How far an average person can go in life ?

What is the secret recipe for success? Is it having a high IQ?

No, having a high IQ is not enough.

It might even prove to be an obstacle in some cases!

For people with high IQ everything is relatively easier. But people with an average IQ have to struggle through various concepts which might not always be a bad thing.

There is no improvement without any struggle and more often than not people with higher IQs are unwilling to put in the hard yards as they are so used to good things happening to them so easily which many a times prevents them from reaching their true potential.

Hard Work beats talent when talent does not work hard.

The story of the rabbit and the tortoise is not so famous without reason and teaches a valuable life lesson.

There is no limit to what humans can achieve. The sky is the limit. We even have people reaching out for achievements beyond the sky. Take for example Elon Musk. He owns Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX, three companies which are pushing at the frontiers of human imagination and achievement.

For a layman it might appear that he just got lucky with his ideas and execution. But someone who has been closely following the man would know that living on the edge is a habit for this man.

His life goal now is to build a colony on Mars so that the human race can survive even if some catastrophe hits planet Earth.

Although this might seem eccentric to most people, people like Musk are who are carrying the human race forward.

The Wright Brothers were thought to be mad when they were inventing the aeroplane.

Galileo was called mad when he claimed that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe.

Anyone who does not think within the narrow confines of our society is deemed to be mad but there is a method to their madness which every person can inculcate in their lives.

These people dream of something and have the knack of actually building it in reality. For doing this, is required the ability to slog it out day and night along with a dash of creativity. It is a well-known fact that Elon Musk has been putting in 100 hour work weeks since the past 20 years and it is not uncommon for him to go two to three days without any sleep when doggedly hounding some project.

The recipe for success has three ingredients namely Intelligence, Hard Work and Luck.

Let us look at all three individually.

Intelligence is not just about your IQ levels however. Professor Richard Muller who is a renowned Professor of Physics at UC Berkley believes there are a lot of other factors that determine how successful a person becomes such as:
Intelligence in understanding complex phenomena: This is what is attributed to business and military leaders who have to make correct decisions based on a lot of complex information that might not present a clear path ahead. Warren Buffet says that

“If you have a 150 I.Q., sell 30 points to someone else. You need to be smart, but not a genius to be successful.”

Artistic intelligence

Artistic intelligence is another form of intelligence which IQ cannot measure.

How did Mozart know what symphonies to create? How did the Beatles create some of the best rock songs? This type of intelligence is clearly different and cannot be attributed to IQ.

Social Intelligence

According to Professor Muller, this one is one of the most important types of intelligence. The ability to influence people, to read their body languages and to deduce if they are trying to fool you or are honest with you help in negotiating your way through rough waters.

Entrepreneurial Intelligence

This is quite related to the complex phenomena intelligence. But this is more about the “execution” part while the first point was about the “understanding” part. As important understanding complex phenomena and determining a set course of action is, having the ability to actually carry it out is a completely different ball game and requires an entrepreneurial spirit.

Hard Work is something which everyone can do but very few people actually do. Nevertheless this is another crucial element in any successful story.

Most of us are familiar with Thomas Alva Edison’s story of how he invented the light bulb. He failed approximately 10,000 times before he made a model that actually worked yet he never dreamt of giving up.

There are no shortcuts to success and people who believe otherwise are just deluding themselves.

As was mentioned earlier Elon Musk has been consistently pumping in 100 hour work weeks for the past two decades even though he made huge amounts of money during the dotcom bubble. But instead of resting on his laurels, he decided to invest that money further and continue on his path of success.

Hard Work thus is not a one-time thing to do; instead it needs to be ingrained in one’s life. Moreover, hard work need not be viewed as a negative thing always as is the general perception. People are generally averse to working very hard but this will not be the case if someone is working on the things he/she loves. Work then becomes pleasure and hard work does not remain a hurdle anymore!

Luck has a huge role in life in either a positive or a negative way. It can propel someone to the stars or can push someone down to the depths. But generally people are loathe accepting the importance of luck in their success but are quick to point it out in their failures. This is because it undermines their hard work and determination that they have put in and people do not like accepting the fact that they are not always in control of their lives and in shaping it.

Nassim Taleb who is a renowned scholar even has a theory for it named “black swan”.

The black swan theory or the theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event which comes as a surprise, has a major effect and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

Basically what it says is that successful people generally feel that they were destined to success and often have a story which tells about their roadmap. But they fail to assign the appropriate amount of importance of luck and probability.

However, it is also true that fortune favours the brave (not just philosophically but also statistically) and one needs to perennially be an optimist and hardworking in order to achieve the best results in life.

Juggling through all these things is what successful people habitually do. However regularly living up to one’s potential is not that every does (not that it can’t be done).

Not everyone is born intelligent but intelligence can be garnered along one’s life too. There are certainly some things that can be kept in mind for getting the most out of every situation.

Inculcating these thumb rules automatically makes someone intelligent!

Do mistakes. This advice is the most common advice to be meted out. However learning from them is more important. Thus a better way to phrase this would be to “learn from your mistakes”.

A positive attitude towards mistakes allows them to be corrected rapidly leaving you much wiser than before.

Being curious is a natural thing for humans and this is what has propelled the human race. But the downside of doing new things is that there definitely will be failures along the way. However do not be scared of falling. Be scared of not trying. In the end people only regret the chances that they did not take.

Put yourself in the right environment. One of the most important decisions we make in life is who we choose to be around. It is said that a person is the average of the 5 people closest to him or her. Thus it is paramount that these five people always affect you in a positive manner. The right environment also entails garnering the right information.

Following the right blogs or the right people (again) ensures that you always have the right ideas in your mind. This in turn guarantees that your thought process is on the critical path always.

Having the right attitude helps in the bad as well as the good times. There is quite a famous quote which says “The only handicap in life is having a bad attitude”. This true to quite a large extent. One might not get the required results even after putting in the required efforts. This should not lead to getting frustrated and giving up.

A quote from the movie Rocky Balboa here aptly sums up the point being made “Life is not about how hard you can hit. It is about how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward.”

As has been pointed earlier even though a person is intelligent and has worked hard, it is not necessary that he or she will succeed (courtesy luck).

But what that person can inculcate is a right attitude. Luck will not always be on the wrong side just as it is not always on the right side. It is a statistical thing, just a probability, and one should not worry too much about it. But a bad attitude will definitely sink your ship.

The best way to stay motivated is by looking up to people who have achieved some big things in life. Following their lives shows that they tread a treacherous path but never gave up on their willingness to succeed. Here are 5 such people:

Dhirubhai Ambani: When Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani died, the then Prime Minister of India Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee observed “The country has lost iconic proof of what an ordinary Indian fired by the spirit of enterprise and driven by determination can achieve in his own lifetime”. Dhirubhai Ambani even has a film loosely referring to his life in “Guru”. He founded Reliance Industries in 1966 and by the time of his death in 2002 was the richest person in India.

Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet is another shining example of a self-made billionaire and has earned a majority of his wealth investing in the stock market and definitely is the most successful investor in the world currently.. He is consistently ranked in the Top 5 wealthiest person’s in the world but still lives in modest surroundings and drives a plain Cadillac. Despite a net worth in Billions he has simple tastes but this can be attributed to the fact that he is a value investor and looks for the maximum utility in everything he does. Nevertheless here is a very wise person who everyone should look up to and try to emulate.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a typical example of someone bulldozing through life. When he wants something, he gives everything to achieve it. And he never wants small things. As has been told earlier his current goal is to set up a human colony in Mars. He earned $180 Million from PayPal’s acquisition by eBay and then proceeded to invest $100 Million in SpaceX, $70 Million in Tesla and $10 Million in Solar City. He is the perfect example to teach people to “give it everything” in whatever they do.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

The more is said about this man, the less it seems to be able to capture his persona. He is known as India’s missile man and was probably the best liked President India has ever had. He was instrumental in a number if ISRO’s projects and has played an influential role in bringing India’s space program to the world class level it now finds itself at. Perennially humble and soft spoken, here is a person whose life is a lesson in hard work and humility.

Narendra Modi

India’s current Prime Minister was a “chaiwallah”. But his tremendous work ethic and the willingness to forever improve his skills have enabled him to become the most powerful person in India. Even at the age of 65 he is known to sleep only 3 to 4 hours every day so that he can devote more time towards serving his country. He had famously remarked that he is going to be the Prime Sevak (servant) of the nation rather than the Prime Minister and has been performing true to his words.

These persons while creating awe in people also create a sense of purpose at the same time. Looking at them one can deduce that the only thing preventing us from reaching for the skies is ourselves.

Thus one needs to keep growing through life and not just plodding on through it like it is a burden.

The world needs changing and you can be the one to bring about the next big change. However as Mahatma Gandhi famously quipped “Charity begins at home”!