I rattle off a few names, and see if you can tell what they all have in common: Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, Marie Curie…
Did you guess it? That they’re all insanely intelligent? That’s right, these people are some of the most intelligent folks to walk the earth!
When we talk about incredibly intelligent people, we’re not just talking about high IQ scores or academic accolades. We’re talking about how they weave intelligence into the very fabric of their lives.
How they turn ordinary opportunities into extraordinary achievements – and in the process, push boundaries, defy conventions, and change the world.
What exactly sets them apart? How do we know a person is incredibly intelligent? Well, just as important as the things they do are the things they never do. After all, what we don’t do plays just as huge a role in shaping our reality.
Let’s take a look at nine things incredibly intelligent people never do.
1) They never ignore the power of listening and observation
One of the most noticeable things about exceptionally intelligent people is that they are fantastic listeners.
They don’t just nod while you speak. They absorb, process, and respond. Your words aren’t falling into a void; they’re being taken in with intent.
Or sometimes, they won’t even say much and are content with merely observing what goes on around them.
It’s all about their desire to gather information. For the incredibly intelligent, knowledge is everything. That’s because they have a much higher level of intellectual curiosity than the average person.
2) They never stop questioning
Read any story about those people I mentioned earlier, and you’ll see a common thread – they always ask questions.
And it’s not just any old boring question; they love asking thought-provoking questions that really go beyond the surface.
In fact, this is also why they’re sometimes seen as “weird”; the questions they ask are ones that wouldn’t even occur to an average person.
See, those endless questions come from an insatiable curiosity. They just have a love of learning new things, so they keep pushing, probing, and peeling back the layers of a topic.
That said, they don’t just accept answers and leave it at that, as the next section shows…
3) They don’t accept things at face value
For the incredibly intelligent, the pursuit of knowledge is active, not passive. What do I mean by this?
I’ll give you an example:
Back in graduate school, I took a statistics class. Now, obviously, it’s all about numbers and we were all just sitting quietly, taking notes and listening to the professor teach us how to solve for X using a specific fixed coefficient.
None of us even thought of asking why we should use that coefficient; we all just took it at face value.
Except for one lady in the back, who raised her hand and asked the professor to explain. “Excuse me, but why? What is the significance of this number?”
And you know what? The professor couldn’t explain it! He simply said, “Because that’s always been the number to use in this formula.”
That lady is a great example of someone who isn’t content with not knowing why a statement has been made.
And that’s how the incredibly intelligent operate – they are critical thinkers who need to know the basis of everything!
4) They never assume they know everything
If you’ve met a highly intelligent person, you might have seen them as a know-it-all because they seem to know everything.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and they’d be the first to admit they don’t know it all.
They’re the opposite of people with the Dunning-Kruger effect. You know, that cognitive bias where people think they’re smarter than they really are?
Isn’t that such a strange phenomenon? But it actually makes sense when you think about it. If you’re not very smart, you don’t have the skills you need to recognize that fact.
In contrast, the truly intelligent, because they are, well, truly intelligent, are very much aware of their own thought processes. They have a good grasp of just how much they know and don’t know.
They also understand that the minute they think they know everything is the minute they stop learning. It’s why they don’t do the next thing on this list…
5) They never dismiss others’ ideas
This one’s something I really appreciate in incredibly intelligent people. I love how they really strive to have a diversity of thought. Their open-mindedness is so refreshing!
They understand that everyone, regardless of their intellectual ability, has something valuable to contribute. They listen to different ideas, consider them, and use them as stepping stones to broader understanding.
Sure, they might be the smartest person in the room, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn anything from the less intelligent.
6) They never rest on their laurels
Speaking of learning brings me to this next point. Incredibly intelligent people are always in motion – intellectually, that is.
Day in and day out, they’re reading, learning, and exploring. They’re driven by a constant thirst for knowledge, always seeking to broaden their horizons.
Thanks to that never-ending desire to grow and learn, they don’t stagnate and get stuck in a rut.
Case in point: my 90-year-old neighbor who’s still as sharp as a tack. Back in her younger years, she’d won tons of awards for her work in education.
Yet, she’s as humble as ever, still curious, still exploring whatever’s out there that sparks her curiosity.
Even now, when she hasn’t worked for years, I’d find her on her porch on any given day, nose buried in a book. Sometimes, her book club friends would come over and I would hear them having lively discussions.
She’s one of the most intelligent people I know, and I can only aspire to keep that love of learning burning well into my old age!
7) They never resist change or challenges
By now, you know that incredibly intelligent people are driven by intellectual curiosity. So, if you pose a challenge – a puzzle, a problem to solve – they’ll say, “Challenge accepted!” That’s right up their alley.
The same goes for their attitude towards change. Where many of us would quail at the thought of the great unknown, they would feel excited.
Why? Because it’s something new to explore!
Plus, they have adaptive thinking skills that allow them to make the best of a situation. So, even if they might fail at something, they can easily pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes, and try again.
For them, life is just an exciting journey of countless trial-and-errors!
8) They never ignore their intuition
Aside from those excellent adaptive thinking skills, their intuition is another element they use to propel them forward.
That might sound counterintuitive (pun intended); after all, aren’t intelligent people all about logic and reason?
Well, yes, but they also pay attention to their gut feeling. Because they understand that intuition is an inner knowing, an indefinable sum of their knowledge and experience.
Simply put, they know that the subconscious mind has just as much power and usefulness as the conscious mind.
9) They never stop dreaming
Last, but definitely not least, incredibly intelligent people are dreamers. They have ambitions, goals, and visions that they strive to achieve.
They’re not afraid to imagine and aspire. It’s what keeps them motivated and focused, always striving to do more.
Remember my elderly neighbor? Do you know what she’s up to right now? She’s developing an assessment tool to measure the stress levels of students, that’s what.
I mean, if that’s not the picture of a true dreamer, I don’t know what is!
And of course, I can’t end this list without talking about who I consider the best example of someone who never stopped thinking and dreaming – Stephen Hawking.
Think about it: the guy had ALS and was almost entirely paralyzed. He couldn’t even speak on his own. Did he let this limit his dreams? Crush his spirit? Absolutely not.
Even in the face of these challenges, his intellectual passion and curiosity took center stage. He used his intelligence to dream big, both for himself and the whole of humanity.
Incredibly intelligent people distinguish themselves not just by their huge intellectual capacities, but also by their attitudes and habits.
As you can see, it’s not just about what they do, but what they choose not to do. They’re mindful of their actions and live life with full intention – to grow, evolve, and make positive contributions to society.