7 Extremely Rare Signs Of High Intelligence You Should Look For In Yourself

Photo: Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock
woman smiling at camera with blurry background

You want to be intelligent. And you take several actions in that direction.

  • You read books.
  • You watch TED talks.
  • You spend more time with intelligent people around you.

But are your efforts paying off? That’s what this article is about.

Here are 7 extremely rare signs of high intelligence you should look for in yourself:

1. You’re quick on your feet

One of my seniors called me when I was working.

I didn’t pick up, because I knew that he’d have some work for me to do. He called again. And I still didn’t pick up. I thought I’d return his call after a few hours.

I later found out that he was with my roommate when he made the call. And when I didn’t pick up the call, he asked him to call me — thinking that I was purposefully dodging his call. He said, “Call Akshad. He isn’t picking up my call. But if he receives your call, he’s going to regret it.”

But my roommate had my back. So he just pretended to make the call, stuck his phone to his ear, and after a while said, “He isn’t picking up.” When in fact, he never made the call.

He was quick on his feet. And that’s a sure sign of intelligence.

RELATED: 5 Smart Ways To Boost Your Emotional Intelligence And Control Your Emotions

2. You’ve surpassed functional fixedness

My friend needed a door closer to fit on his door. But he couldn’t afford one. So he went the creative way.

He took a filled water bottle and tied it to a meter-long rope. He then tied the rope to the ceiling of the doorway and put the rope over the door on the other side.

So whenever someone opened the door, the door closed by itself as due to the positioning of the rope, the gravity of the filled water bottle acted in the direction to close the door.

I was impressed when I saw it!

This is the opposite of functional fixedness. Functional fixedness is the psychological bias that restricts you to use a thing only in the way it’s meant to be. For instance, I’d use a water bottle only to drink water.

But he realized that a filled bottle has gravity as well — and he could use that gravity to create a makeshift door closer!

If you’ve done something like this too, it’s a sign of high intelligence.

3. You think in unexpected ways

In one talk show, Stephen Colbert asked Keanu Reeves, “What happens after we die, Keanu Reeves?”

Now, this question could have two common expected answers — the religious kind and the atheist kind.

  • Religious: You go to heaven or hell.
  • Atheist: You just die. Nothing happens.

But Keanu Reeves chose neither of these. He paused for a while and said, 

“I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”

And everyone’s jaw dropped.

His answer wasn’t unobvious, but it was unexpected. And that made all the difference.

RELATED: The Smartest People Possess These 4 Traits Of Emotional Intelligence

4. You don't give unsolicited advice

I conducted an experiment.

I went to some of my seniors to ask for advice on studying better to top our post-med school entrance exam for residency. And I specifically went to seniors who I know for a fact are not that great at studying.

I wasn’t going to listen to them. I just wanted to know what they’d say.

And each one of them started giving me advice — most of which was BS. And they went on and on. But not once did anyone say, “You know what, I’m not that great at studying. I’m not the right person you should seek advice from.”

And I think that’s a sign of lack of intelligence — when you cannot even realize and accept that you’re not good at something.

But if you can accept it — and you don’t give advice on things you’re not great at — that’s a sign of high self-awareness and high intelligence.

5: You seek unconventional methods

Here’s a simple rule in life that I follow: “If you do things the same way as everyone else, you’re going to get the same results as everyone else.”

That’s why I’m a sucker for unconventional methods.

For instance, the common method for studying is post-testing. This is when you solve questions after studying. However, after reading several books on better learning, I came across a concept called Pretesting.

In Pretesting, you solve questions before even studying the topic. It seems stupid, but it’s actually wonderful because it tells you the kind of questions asked in the exam. And then when you actually sit down to study, your cognitive attention is reallocated according to the importance of a given topic.

This unconventional method has completely revolutionized how I study.

A sure sign of intelligence is asking yourself, “Is there a better way to do it than how the majority does it?” When you do that, you find unconventional methods that lead to better and faster results. And that's a sign of high intelligence.

RELATED: 11 Little Habits Of The Strongest, Most Resilient People

6. You observe and deduce, and not just look

Sherlock: You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room?

Dr. Watson: Frequently.

Sherlock: How often?

Dr. Watson: Well, some hundreds of times.

Sherlock: Then how many are there?

Dr. Watson: How many?! I don’t know.

Sherlock: Quite so. You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps because I have both seen and observed.

This is an exchange between Dr. Watson and Sherlock A Scandal In Bohemia, 1891.

And that’s just it. Most people just look at the world. But some people truly observe it mindfully. And make deductions. That’s a sign of high intelligence.

7. You can keep up and adapt in any social environment

I have a friend who’s able to make friends everywhere. He connects with people wherever he goes — no matter how unique the social situation might be.

I thought that this was a sign of social intelligence specifically. But it’s not. It’s a sign of intelligence overall. Here are two reasons why:

  • To connect with different people, you need to have a knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. That’s what allows you to find common ground with so many people.
  • And even when you have knowledge of a variety of subjects, you have to be able to adapt according to the room.

Most people often feel out of place. But my friend never feels out of place — no matter what kind of room he finds himself in. This is because being able to adjust and adapt according to the room is a sign of high intelligence.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Build Emotional Resilience & Mental Strength When Facing Adversity

Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.