Had a good correspondence with a reader recently, who mentioned that he's got the, "If you're so smart, how come you ain't rich?" thing going on.
My reply -
Well, I think intelligence isn't the only thing. Maybe not even the most important thing. I'd rank -
all higher than intelligence for tangible success.
By "effectiveness", I just mean the ability to get shit done. I don't have a fancy definition of it, but some people can obviously get shit done, and others can't. You need to be able to get shit done to get wealthy (or otherwise do meaningful things).
Then desire - a lot of people, it doesn't really occur to them to get wealthy. Or they don't want it. Or they don't think it's possible to them. Or - and this is totally fair - they rank other things as more important than wealth. That's fine if that's what they choose.
On cultivating desire, I'd recommend Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" if you haven't read it. I mean, it's not as good as the hype about it (it's good, but waaaay overhyped in my opinion) - but there are some very, very valuable points in there. Recommended.
Then consistency/persistence - I think you've got to be working on your long term objectives almost daily. At least weekly... if you put them off until some undetermined date in the future, it's very likely they never happen. So the ability to consistently put in time and persist when things suck (and keep putting in time, even if you're sick/tired/demoralized/whatever), I think those are all important.
Intelligence is maybe #4? I'll take an effective-gets-shit-done person who is desirous of success and consistent/persistent over someone who is more intelligent but not those things.
So yeah. What do you, specifically? Ever written out your goals? Highly recommended if not. Gives you a roadmap. I try to look at some of my goals every morning too, helps stay on track with the consistency thing.
Intelligence can often prove counterproductive - especially if you only rely on it to succeed. Being intelligent / smart means the person knows how to think - but that is just part of the process. You need to 'get shit done'. Here is another observation you may find interesting on why smart people don't succeed:
The fear of failure makes some people go for “extreme preparation” – trying to cross all the “t”s and dotting all the “i”s – trying to be “fully” ready before taking the first step. As they prepare more, they realize that there is a need to prepare even more. They end up going into a never-ending loop.
In "How to Make Wealth," Paul Graham assigns the following a multiplier of wealth-building effectiveness in a startup. The numbers themselves, as he concedes, are debatable but only as to where they fall within their order of magnitude.
Endurance: x2 (persistence)
Focus: x3 (desire)
Environment: x2 (effectiveness)
He reasons from this that an $80k programmer working crazy hours with laser focus in a startup environment applying his intelligence to difficult problems is worth $80k * 2 * 3 * 2 * 3 or about three million per year. But, the luck factor means this is a mean return with the median being zero and the extremes being financial losses at the low end and billions earned at the high end.
If he is to be believed, intelligence is tied for most important attribute, but if even just two of the other three attributes are present a person, that person should do better than someone who is only intelligent, and a person with all attributes but intelligence should do about four times better than a person who is only intelligent!
I just posted a new article at Less Wrong - "Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines." This is a little bit longer and more dry than I write for my blog, but I think there's some very important things in here.
If you're interested in goals and achievement, there's quite a lot of meat here. I'm putting the full version up here and please feel very welcome to comment here on this topic, but also consider heading over to Less Wrong, grab a free account, and start participating there. As I described in "You Should Probably Study Rationality," it's a wonderful community.
Reply to: Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic
In "Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic," Anna Salamon outlined some ways that people could take action to be more successful and achieve goals, but do not:
I'm doing my new years post a few days early this year. I have a post coming out on the first and I want to give this one a few days at the top.
So first, let's get to last year's goals.
#1... Failed completely. I gained a lot of insight, though. A few things here...