What Were the Odds?

I have written more than one article on this topic because sometimes I’m hit in the face with a coincidence so unexpected I just have to shake my head!

I love Entrepreneur magazine (Jason Feifer is the editor in chief) because the stories of those who dared, who struggled, who learned, and who succeeded are always amazing.

And that’s all I expect, right? Great stories.

So the other day, I was reading about a man whom I’d never heard of before (although he’s never heard of me, either … 😊) named Jim Kwik. He has an amazing backstory about head injuries, having had difficulty learning how to learn, and always feeling like the “odd kid out” because others seemed to have so little difficulty where he had a lot.

He considered dropping out of school until he met a friend’s father. It’s amazing how when we’re ready to hear a message, it often comes to us, right? That friend’s father helped him see the path he could continue on, if he wanted to. And he did! He’s just an amazing man!

But for me, there’s an odd coincidence. The way Jim Kwik phrased something is almost exactly as I have done for years, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone else write it like that.

Many of us know about IQ, which we think of as a predictor of absolute intelligence and achievement.

Am I right?

But how many of us have ever taken the time to consider what IQ really is, which is an indicator of intelligence and potential, but not an absolute predictor of success? And because of that, we too often assume that anyone with a high one is smart … in everything.

I’ll bet you’ve heard this question in all its forms many times: “If she’s so smart, how come she didn’t know THAT?”

But specific smarts are not equally distributed among us.

Let’s face it: Some folks shine in an area others don’t. Some mathematicians are klutzes with words or music, while some grammarians can’t be trusted to add two and two and always get four!

So, what exactly did Jim Kwik write that caught my attention?

“It’s not how smart you are – it’s ‘How are you smart?’ ”

I have to say I was floored.

Why? Because this is what I have been saying/writing for the last 20+ years; I’ve included it in every version of my “Communication Skills” workshop material since 1999.

“Wrong question: How smart is he or she?”

“Right question: How is he or she smart?”

Such a simple question, but I hadn’t ever seen it anywhere else, which doesn’t mean, of course, that no one else ever wrote it. I just had to shake my head in agreement, laughing all the while.

And whether it’s Jim Kwik’s or my version, it’s a fair question that allows us to see the person for who they are, not as some number seems to show us.

We’re all smart, just in different ways, and I for one am happy to know that!

How about you, friends? Where do YOUR strengths show themselves?  


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. That is an excellent question, Susan, and just in case anybody reading this thinks more is better, rest assured that when it comes to IQ, that is NOT the case. Apparently the optimal place to be is 132. Yes, that is Mensa material, but only just.

    One of the many idiotic things our brains do is that they forget how difficult something was to learn once we have had that Eureka moment. And that makes it very difficult for very intelligent people who knows tons of stuff to relate to the rest of us struggling to “add two and two and always get four”. So yes, IQ is good, but if it damages your relationships with other people, the end result is not so good.
    After all, life is about doing things with other people more than about filling out questionnaires measuring spatial rotation awareness, number patterns, and what not.

    So far I don’t think anybody has created a scale for being wise. And, supposedly, the best scale for being happy is measured in how many close friends you have.

    • Wisdom is something entirely different from IQ, as many of us have seen throughout our lives, Charlotte! To me, IQ speaks of potential, but it’s no guarantee of any kind of success. There’s just so much more to humans that a number!