Here’s a simple truth: Intelligence is challenging to measure.
It’s more complicated and multi-faceted than scoring well on an IQ test, getting straight A’s in school, and even getting a great salary in a top company.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the traits of intelligent people that are often underestimated.
You’ll be surprised to know how these characteristics reveal one’s inner genius.
1) They’re intuitive
“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion”
– Steve Jobs
Have you ever had those moments when you had a difficult decision to make and you just knew what to do? You couldn’t really explain why.
Or that time when you felt your body was telling you that something wasn’t right?
That’s your intuition. It can be very puzzling, but besides Steve Jobs, many researchers and experts have argued that it’s a powerful force of the mind that can help us make better decisions.
Trusting your gut instincts or following your inner voice isn’t merely guessing. It’s combining what you know and what you feel, and taking action based on the insights.
2) They’re naturally curious
An intelligent mind is a hungry mind. What does that mean?
It means intelligent people are those who aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know.” They ask open-ended questions, and they listen without judgment.
They’re always open to learning new things and gaining new experiences. They’re passionate about having a deeper understanding of the people and the world around them.
And the best part? They’re willing to be wrong. They seek to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things.
3) They’re keen observers
Are you the type of person who sees possibilities everywhere? Do you love to observe other people and how they react to their surroundings?
If so, then you may be more intelligent than you think you are.
There are many benefits to being a great observer. For one, it compels a person to take a step back and take a deeper look into themselves and others.
Keen observers never take anything for granted. They have their way of seeing the finer details — from the sights and sounds to patterns, styles, and results.
4) They’re highly creative
Intelligent people are very imaginative. You know, the type of people who can think in and out of the box.
They can find 10,000 new ways to do the same thing — consider different methods for reaching a desired outcome.
They can also come up with new ideas even if they’re dealing with limited time, tools, and other constraints.
And it doesn’t stop there: They practice and develop their creative skills so they’ll feel more confident in using them.
5) They’re adaptable
I’m always fascinated by people who can easily thrive in different circumstances or environments.
Not only can they gain new knowledge and learn new skills quickly, but they can also see opportunities above obstacles.
Those who are highly adaptable don’t simply go with the flow. They are never complacent.
In other words, they challenge the status quo. They’re willing to break and bend habits so they can reinvent themselves and expand their horizons.
6) They communicate effectively
I love listening to and talking with people who can make hard ideas simple. These are the type of people who can effortlessly convey a message and make it clear and impactful.
They don’t use big words just to impress people. Their main goal is clarity of expression.
They build strong connections with the people they’re communicating with by paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues.
Simply put, intelligent people know how to actively listen: they ask relevant questions to better understand and validate the other person’s experiences.
7) They’re open-minded
Intelligent people believe that there are two sides to every argument. They’re willing to consider different perspectives, and they acknowledge people who make good points.
Most importantly, they challenge their own beliefs against facts and can admit when they’re wrong.
This means they can change their mind about something when presented with overwhelming evidence.
8) They solve logic and real-world problems
Have you ever wondered why some people are good at brain teasers, puzzles, and math problems?
They’re the ones who have great critical thinking skills. They can look beyond the obvious. They gather data, evaluate all information and arguments, and determine connections.
And it gets better: They can take what they learn and make it relevant to their lives. They use this skill to solve and prevent real-world problems.
9) They’re practical and resourceful
For intelligent people, resourcefulness is a powerful way to deal with adversity.
They can look at what they have at a given time and optimize what they have to work with.
They find new ways to use assets and make old things function better. They look for shortcuts that haven’t been considered.
What makes them more admirable is they do not let outside factors determine when or how they take action. They proactively seek and take advantage of opportunities.
10) They’re resilient
Speaking of adversity, it takes a lot of persistence to overcome obstacles and solve a difficult problem.
That’s why intelligent people are very resilient. Many of the world’s most famous geniuses — Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, and Vincent Van Gogh, to name a few — failed many times before they succeeded.
You see, intelligent people never see a setback as a failure. They view it as opportunities to learn. They figure out what went wrong and how they can do better next time.
They never give up until they reach their goals.
This leads me to my next point….
11) They’re self-motivated
Many of the intelligent people I know don’t wait for others to motivate them before they start working on their goals.
They have this “can do” mindset and they set themselves up for success.
Whether it’s prioritizing self-care, going back to their “why,” celebrating the small wins, and more, they identify strategies that will get them closer to achieving their goals.
12) They’re emotionally intelligent
If you have a heightened sense of self-awareness, you’re more intelligent than you think you are.
That’s because intelligent people are great at reading their emotions and thinking deeply about them.
They can accurately identify their emotions and recognize how these feelings affect the people around them.
This emotional intelligence helps them empathize and connect well with others.
Let’s keep in mind that intelligence reveals itself in many ways, and is not limited to a few characteristics.
Instead of underestimating people’s potential, it’s better to celebrate how they are incredibly smart in their own ways.