4 Rare Signs Of Superior Intelligence To Look For In Yourself

If you don’t show these signs, don’t be disheartened. It’s not that tough to develop them.

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Intelligence is the currency of the future.

The way the world is changing, the kind of life you’ll live won’t be determined by how hard you can work, but instead, by the quality of your thought process.

Superior intelligence can mean more freedom, greater peace, higher wealth, and an overall better life.

However, contrary to what most people believe, intelligence is not what you inherit. It’s something that can be developed over time.


In this article, I want to share 4 signs of higher intelligence. If you show these signs, great. If you don’t, try to develop these traits and enjoy a life of greater intelligence. Let’s dive in.

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Here are 4 rare signs of superior intelligence you should look for in yourself:

1. For you, ‘how’ comes after ‘what’

The chronology of these two questions is actually very important. Let me elaborate.

  • For normal people, ‘what’ comes after ‘how’. This means that they mold their desires depending on how competent they are at present. For instance, a student who just knows how to pass an exam, and not ace it, would desire an ordinary college for themselves before appearing for an entrance exam.
  • For people with superior intelligence on the other hand, ‘how’ comes after ‘what’. This means that they decide what they want first, and later figure out ‘how’ to achieve it. This would mean that a student aims for an ivy league school and later figures out how to get in.

People who restrict their desires to their current competency, cage themselves and fail to grow. On the other hand, people who aim beyond their competency, induce curiosity to learn and grow their competency.

This is what Kobe Bryant said in an interview while talking about how he pushes people to be the best version of themselves.

If we have a project and you’re saying, “Okay, I can do that.”, that’s not the project we want. The projects that say, “I don’t if I can animate that.”, “I don’t know how to write that story.”, “I don’t know how to do that.”, those are the things we want. Because through that curiosity, you’ll reach a level that you didn’t think was possible.

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2. You come with solutions, not just the problems

There are two kinds of people.

  • A person who goes up to their boss, tells them what the problem is, and waits for the boss to hand out the solutions.
  • A person who on encountering a problem, comes up with solutions, and then goes up to their boss with a possible solution to the problem.

Of course, when you’re starting new in any field, initially, you’ll be the first kind of person. That’s because you’ve yet to learn. However, I think most people stay at that place forever. They don’t evolve into the second kind of person, and hence, they don’t contribute much.

Your job is to be the second kind of person. When a problem arises, you should try to understand what it is. Then, instead of coming up with just one solution, try to come up with several. Go up to your boss, or your mentor and present them with your menu of solutions. And when they choose one or reject all, take feedback and try to understand why. This will help you learn better.

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3. You’re aware of your biases

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about two types of thinking: fast, and slow. Our brains have come up with such a system to increase efficiency.

You cannot spend a lot of time on every little decision you make throughout your day. This is why your brain came up with the ability to think fast. This kind of thinking is possible due to heuristics, or what we call mental shortcuts.

Such mental shortcuts are effective in most situations. However, at the same time, they make you prone to a whole list of cognitive biases because mental shortcuts are possible only when you ignore some quantity of information. For instance, confirmation bias makes you blind to evidence that goes against your existing beliefs, and you’re receptive only to evidence that confirms your beliefs. When you’re prone to such biases, the truth eludes you.

A sign of higher intelligence is that you’re aware of such biases. And you’re especially careful about them when the stakes are high. To develop this trait, I highly recommend these two ways:


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4. You’re able to put your intelligence on a leash when needed

Doctors make the worst patients. Lawyers make the worst clients. You know why? Because their intelligence comes in the way.

This holds true for learners as well. When we know nothing, and we know that we know nothing, it’s easy to learn. However, when we learn something, we begin feeling like we have learned a lot. This makes us resistant to learning more.

For instance, when you’re good at something and want to become great at something, you hire a good mentor. However, when they try to teach you something, you feel like what they’re telling you is wrong because you think you know a lot. But in reality, it’s you who’s wrong.


Truly intelligent people know that their intelligence can get in their way. Hence they train themselves to surrender their own intelligence while learning. They know how to put it on a leash.

A Buddhist zen story comes to mind:

There was a Japanese Zen master named Nan-in who lived during the Meiji era. During his days as a teacher, he was visited by a learned university professor curious about Zen.


Being polite, Nan-in served the professor a cup of tea.

As he poured, the professor’s cup became full, but Nan-in kept on pouring. As the professor watched the cup overflow, he could no longer contain himself and said, “It is full. No more will go in!”

Nan-in turned to the professor and said, “Like the cup, you are too full of your own opinions and speculations. How will I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Intelligence is the currency of the future, and these signs suggest that you too have superior intelligence.

  • You decide what you want and figure out how to achieve it later.
  • You bring solutions, not problems.
  • You know the defects in your thought process and are aware of them.
  • You can put your intelligence on a leash when needed.

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