There’s A Big Difference Between Intelligence and Drive
Know your strengths before choosing your career path
What does one need to be successful in life? To find the answer to that, you first need to define what success means to you, don’t you?
Do you want to be successful like the CEO’s, directors, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, doctors, and the movers and shakers of the world? Do you want to be successful working for a government agency? Do you want to be successful working in the non-profit sector? Or do you want to achieve success your very own way following some kind of hybrid model? There’s various levels of success available out there and each rung of the ladder comes with its own pros and cons. Some fields require years of education and research, some require a daily grind with heaping amounts of determination and dedication, and some others need you to be a combination of the two.
So, what are you going to pick from this wildly colourful palette with a smorgasbord of career paths and lifestyle choices to choose from? It not only comes down to the skills that come naturally to you, but also how much you’re further willing to learn and expand on your current knowledge base.
Some people possess intelligence. Some possess drive. Some possess both, but when the going gets tough they fall apart. That’s the reason there’s so few of us right at the very top.
So let’s find out, is intelligence really that different from drive?
Drive is that go getter attitude that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning, tie your shoelaces with enthusiasm and make your way to work. Drive is something that doesn’t let you sleep at night unless you’ve reached a certain level of success. Drive is the unflinching determination one has for their work or passion every single day, and not only when there’s a vacation or a party right around the corner. Drive is the ability to work with the same attitude regardless of workspace and people constraints. Drive is trading weekends for learning and upskilling.
It’s also saying no to meaningless friendships and relationships that are a waste of time and precious mental resources.
I know people who’ve worked all their lives out of smart offices; where the lights are dim, the chairs are comfortable, and the coffee is gourmet. Now they can’t even stand the thought of working at less thoughtfully designed spaces. Legacy companies spoil you rotten with all the perks and benefits one could ask for. Their offices are located in posh ivory towers overlooking the city with fancy interiors, cute receptionists, and perfumed corridors. The food courts and recreational areas resemble a clubhouse rather than an office.
Everything is detailed to the T and honestly makes the lower rung employees feel totally underdressed.
When people are offered so many perks and benefits on a golden platter, they seldom possess any drive. When they arrive at such a level of comfort, there’s usually other strong reasons keeping them driven at work. With poverty and destitution as a primary reason wiped out, it is now a race for accomplishment and recognition amongst their peers. When comfort has been attained, you want the next best thing. Luxury. But luxury comes at a much bigger price than comfort.
This is where knowledge, intelligence, and experience come in.
Intelligence is not just theoretical knowledge obtained from books and research but the practical application of that knowledge in daily life. Its only when you start applying that knowledge to your work that you give yourself the opportunity to interact with scenarios and learn how to formulate time bound solutions to them. A comprehensive blending of all your experience knowledge and knowhow at the right time to circumvent challenges and prevent tragedy right before it strikes is what makes intelligence. A professional who only applies theoretical knowledge to his craft and doesn’t know how to think out of the box will never learn to deal with perplexing scenarios.
Likewise, a poorly educated entrepreneur who only learns through experience and mistakes will pay the price of his insufficient theoretical knowledge through delayed success, failing products, poor profits, and strained relationships with stakeholders.
“Learning informs you; it doesn’t make you “smart.””
So in the end, what is the one thing that finally leads to success?
Let’s get one thing out of the way once and for all. Success isn’t absolute. You could be successful today but a failure tomorrow. So neither is failure in that sense. You get the gist. The problem is our educational institutions along with the larger society in which we live in has conditioned us to think of success and failure as set-in-stone absolutes. A thought process which is extremely defeating and detrimental to growth in the long term. When you think of either of these two in absolutes you greatly downplay and minimize the gifts of learning, knowledge, skill, and experience.
You trivialize the entire process. You begin victimizing people.
“Oh look she started just a few months ago, but already shut shop.”
“Damn, that dude used to once have it all, now look where he is”
“Can’t believe he neglected his family and friends for this and it hasn’t worked out”
The only thing that this line of thinking does is make you think of people as absolute robotic characters devoid of emotions, personality, and the ability to think critically. A career path isn’t a one-way street. You can always start over. Regardless of whether you’ve succeeded or failed, you’ll always walk back wiser from the event with a whole bunch of values to share and impart to the unknowing student. That’s the reason Tedx videos are all the rage today.
So what is the one thing that finally leads to success?
Success is nothing but a blend of all your education, research, skill and experience along with a little bit of luck, street smarts, and connections thrown into a master product or service which people find irresistible. And this has to be done at the right time, of course. You could have the best product or service in the world, but the world doesn’t need it because it’s either too far ahead of its time or outdated. I’ve seen that happen to some of my entrepreneur buddies.
Some people could possess all the drive in the world, but reach nowhere if they don’t document their daily learnings on the job in order to be the one running the show later down the line. Some people could possess all the intelligence in the world, but reach nowhere if they don’t keep at it regardless of the curveballs life throws at them.
If you find yourself to be a highly driven individual, then choose a career path that let’s you exercise those strengths and then build your intelligence on the way. If you find yourself to be a highly intelligent person, then find a job that requires you to make those decisions everyday, and then build your drive for it on the way.
In the end, you need a mix of intelligence and drive to steer you in the right direction and achieve the version of success you envisioned for yourself right at the very beginning. And that’s going to take a lot of time, discipline, and effort.