Why smart and hardworking people don’t succeed

Translated editor Melissa Chu’s article on Medium, where she argues that intelligence and hard work are not synonymous with success and well-being. Read it if you, like us, have been told otherwise for half your life.

For a long time, I believed that if smart people worked hard, they would be successful. But then I realized that there are no 100% guarantees. Some of my acquaintances have created outstanding things, some not bad, but there were also those who did not understand at all what they were doing. Despite the fact that all these people were educated and hardworking.

Later, I realized that when it comes to well-being in any area – relationships, career, health – there are many factors that affect success, besides intelligence and perseverance.

I have highlighted 7 reasons why you cannot succeed despite being smart and hard-working:

1. You chat with the same people

The problem is that when constantly communicating with old acquaintances, albeit very interesting and smart, you are discussing the same thing – no fresh ideas. You don’t see new opportunities until your environment changes.

It’s hard to meet new people at first, so start small. For example, chat with a coworker you don’t know well, or make one new acquaintance every week. Communicate with different people from different fields – this is very broadening your horizons.

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2. Are you afraid of change

It is always difficult to change something that is well-established, especially one that is very comfortable and understandable. But the good news is that change offers a chance for new opportunities. Often experienced professionals say “I have always done this and everything was fine, why change something?”, And this is the problem of smart people who know a lot, but are closed to innovations.

Instead of resisting the change, consider the benefits for yourself. Change leads you to unusual solutions and those to unusual results. Be open to new concepts and be curious about the world around you.

3. You are not ready to take risks

Educated people often take the safe and proven route. They follow the well-trodden path of the majority – “school-university-work-retirement”, or choose a profession because it is considered prestigious in society.

This approach guarantees some degree of security but is unlikely to lead to incredible gains. I often hear from smart people that they consider their careers unfulfilled and that they want to do something else, but are afraid.

If you are thinking about changing activities, imagine what your life will be like in 10 years if you change your mind about changing something. Will you regret it or will you be pleased with your caution?

4. You attach great importance to awards

People who worked hard at school and university are used to being on top and talking about their successes. First place in “Russian Bear” – is it a joke? 🙂 Of course, the awards are wonderful, but they also have negative sides.

I heard many people claim that they deserve something just because of their diplomas or because they studied at the best university in the country. They expect their diplomas, cups, grades and crusts to automatically open all doors. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

In real life, success is not built on past merit and fulfilling your standard responsibilities. Success is hard work + strategic thinking. And a pinch of luck.

5. You only focus on interesting things

I often hear from excellent students that they hate wasting time. Smart people understand the value of time and understand that while they spend their efforts on one thing, they are potentially missing out on the opportunity to do something else.

On the one hand, this approach helps a person to appreciate the time, and on the other hand, sometimes it does not allow him to finish what he started. At the first difficulties or routine, a person abandons his plans, because these difficulties allegedly waste his precious time.

You need to understand that any undertaking is associated with overcoming difficulties and therefore it is important to be patient. By focusing your efforts on one goal, you will get much better results than changing directions.

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6. You don’t know how to make decisions

Intelligence and hard work can open many doors. But, unfortunately, the variety of choices gives rise to the need to make difficult decisions and choose from several options.

I know people who have changed their master’s programs one after another, and after ten years they still don’t know what to do. Before diving into any area, I suggest doing some research first. Talk to people, analyze your interests and make informed decisions.

7. You don’t believe in yourself

Surprisingly, smart people can underestimate their abilities. They become their own worst critics and undermine self-confidence.

Smart people set the bar high for themselves when it comes to working. Each time they carefully study the information, think over the final result, doubt, look further. Such work perfectionism is exhausting. Done is better than perfect – think about it.

“What if ..”, “my knowledge is not enough ..”, “but I never did it …” – don’t let fears keep you from changing. Think about how you want to see your life in 5, 10, 20 years. Get started and don’t wait for signs from above.

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