Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ on the Path to Success

You don’t need to have a high IQ score to be successful in life.


How do you define success?

This term has a different meaning for all of us.

For some people, success is defined by career goals and accomplishmentslike rising up the corporate ladder or adding zeros to their paychecks.

Others see success as a state of mind. They believe that being happy and healthy is more important than their job title or paycheck.

Success can also be measured using short-term goals. 

Either way, when you accomplish your goals, it’s safe to say that you were successful.

Regardless of how you measure success, there is one common truth that remains the same across the board.

Intelligence does not define your chances of succeeding.

Intelligence does not define your chances of succeeding. Click To Tweet

I’m sure that you’ve heard of IQ scores, even if you’ve never taken an IQ test. If you score high on an IQ test, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be successful.

Remember these five letters . . . SYUFS! Set yourself up for success.

You have free will—you can use a haphazard approach to play the game, or you can set yourself up for success.

That’s why grit will get you much further in life than your intelligence. It’s one of the most important keys to your success.

Clear thinking and hard work eventually get rewarded. Like growing an oak, it takes time to get greatness started. You must get your foundation in place before the growth surges come.

Let’s look at the differences between grit and IQ, so it becomes obvious why grit is more important when it comes to achieving success.

What Is IQ?

Let’s start with the basics. IQ stands for intelligence quotient.

Standardized tests for IQ are intended to measure human intelligence. These types of tests have been around for more than a century.

Throughout time, the tests and how the scores are calculated have changed.

Measuring IQ Scores

The average IQ score is 100. Here’s a visual representation of IQ score distribution based on the results of the general population.

This is how intelligence is classified based on different scores:

  • 70 or lower: borderline learning deficiency
  • 70–85: below average
  • 85–115: average
  • 115–130: superior intelligence
  • 130–145: very superior
  • 145 or higher: genius or near genius

High IQ scores are often associated with world famous scientist Albert Einstein, who had an IQ score between 160 and 190. However, the highest IQ on record is between 250 and 300, scored by the lesser known William James Sidis.

Just because someone has a high IQ score, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will be successful.

How IQ Impacts Success

Starting line of a race
(Image Source: http://www.runaddicts.net/start-to-run/what-type-of-runner-are-you-race-your-best-by-knowing-your-pre-race-personality)

There have been several studies throughout the years about how IQ has an effect on success.

Earlier I explained how certain people use their career and job status to measure how successful they are in life.

So does a high IQ translate to a high salary?

Research suggests that only 1–2% of IQ scores can influence annual income.

With that said, IQ is still a somewhat relevant factor to determine the level of success someone will achieve in life. 

For example, someone with an IQ score below 70 may struggle to accomplish things as easily as a person with an IQ score above 145.

Someone with a high IQ may be able to figure out more things on their own, but someone with a lower IQ can make up the difference by simply asking questions.

Let’s continue using career status as an example here.

If someone with a high IQ doesn’t know how to be polite or speak during a job interview, people with lower IQ scores may have an advantage if they have better communication skills.

What are the keys to align yourself with success? It’s not your intelligence.

But if you get on the right road, you’ll get there.

Where is there? Wherever you want to go.

How fast will you get there? As fast as possible from where you’re starting now.

Get yourself mentally prepared and keep yourself organized for success, just like you do everything else.

Keep yourself organized for success. Click To Tweet

You wake up, shower, brush your teeth, put on clothes, and get ready to go meet the world.

Treat your path to success in the same way, with the same mentality—regardless of your IQ score.

You need to learn how to train your mind for success.

Understanding Grit

A man leaping and running, training for a race
(Image Source: https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/blogs/how-start-running-and-stick-it-life)

Some people say grit is a personality trait. I’m not so sure about that. 

One thing I do know is that grit comes from pursuing the things that really matter to you.

Grit comes from pursuing the things that really matter to you. Click To Tweet

Going for what you want is more important than the things that come up that will keep you from getting there.

So you find a way to keep going and overcome challenges.

Every person on the planet has something they would fight for.

For you to have grit, you just have to lock in on the things that are important to you.

That’s where grit comes from.

At that point, IQ simply becomes another tool you use to accomplish your goal and help figure things out.

Your grit determines how you will react to adversity. Take a step back and reflect on the last time you were presented with an obstacle in your life.

How did you handle the situation?

Two Approaches to Living

The Bible says that there are two approaches to living. These two approaches are referred to as the wise and the foolish . . . you can think of them as winners and losers.

Some people are continually rising up, while others constantly sink down. They allow life to beat them up and keep them in a box, as opposed to going for what they want and overcoming the hurdles that come their way.

Then there are those who look for truth and cooperate with it, align with it, and benefit from it.

Others continually flail through life without a purpose, plan, role, or clue. They stumble into every possible ditch or disaster along the way and then wonder why life is so tough, thinking, “why is everything and everyone against me?”

They fail to realize that they are doing this to themselves.

All of these obstacles in life can be overcome by grit.

Some people are stubborn and determined to go their own way. While others are receptive and coachable.

The group who is stubborn and closed minded can’t be helped, but there is hope for everyone else.

Measuring Grit

You may not realize it, but just like IQ, grit can be measured.

The grit scoring system was created by Angela Lee Duckworth, a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an American psychologist. The score is based on a simple 10 question test and ranked on a zero to five scale.

You can take the grit test here to see what your score will be.

The concepts of the test are focused on situations involving:

  • setbacks
  • goals
  • work ethic
  • diligence
  • new ideas
  • focus

Duckworth created the grit scale so she could study grit with measurable results. The test is also designed for self-reflection.

It takes time to build the toughness and strength that it takes to perform under pressure. Give yourself time to develop and mature.

In life, this is much more important than measures of intelligence when it comes to achieving success.

How Grit Determines Success

Now that you understand exactly what grit is, it’s time to recognize how it attributes to your success.

Follow leaders and people with successful track records.

There are no shortcuts, but there are straight lines.

Life is a constant test to see how bad you want to win.

Life is a constant test to see how bad you want to win. Click To Tweet

So how bad do you want it? Your grit will determine your chances of succeeding.

For example, J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers for her pitch on the Harry Potter series.

Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was finally published.

Oprah Winfrey was told that she was unfit for television by a producer.

Even Walt Disney was fired from his job working at a local newspaper because his boss didn’t think he was creative.

IQ scores have nothing to do with how these people achieved success. Their grit, perseverance, and determination to succeed is what makes them winners.

Paving Your Path to Success

Riding a bike uphill helps build grit
(Image Source: https://www.evanscycles.com/coffeestop/advice/12-tips-and-tricks-for-cycling-uphill)

Whether you’ve taken an IQ test or not, don’t let those results determine your future.

You adapt to the rules of the game of life.

Don’t get mad at me—it’s not my game, and these aren’t my rules.

There are no excuses! If you want to be successful, you need to go out there and work for it.

There are no excuses! If you want to be successful, you need to go out there and work for it. Click To Tweet

Don’t accept failure. In life, you’re going to come across speed bumps, hurdles, and obstacles that might slow you down. But people with grit know how to persevere through those challenges and become victorious.

Everyone has a different path to success.

While intelligence may help you complete certain tasks, it’s not the ultimate defining factor for where life will take you.

The decision is yours.

It’s up to you whether you’ll give up at the first sign of turbulence, or if you’ll push through to accomplish your goals.

However you define success, you’ll be able to achieve it with grit.

How were you able to overcome obstacles in your life on the path to success? Share your story of grit with me in the comments section below.

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