Sunday, June 9, 2013

Alpha Mail: IQ has its downsides

For a smart guy, it has taken AB an awfully long time to realize that mere intelligence is no guarantee of anything:
What would you recommend for a high-IQ person who seems to have no ambition or ability to get things done?  Do you know of a resource for smart people with self-discipline problems?  Now the wordy background, in case it helps: I'm a [forty-something] programmer and [retail shop] owner, and have been broke or nearly so most of my life, because I always seem to make just almost enough money to get by.

I was tested at an 8th-grade level going into kindergarten, and at a 160 IQ when I was 13.  I'm not a savant in any particular area.  Though math was my best and favorite subject, I got all A's in everything (when I wanted to) and my ACT scores were 32+ on all subjects.

I don't think I'm lazy exactly, because I'll work hard on a killer sudoku or building something in my back yard when I'm into it.  I tested positive for ADD a few years ago, but the medication seemed to make no difference except reduce my need for naps, so I gave that up.

The problem comes when I have a job to do: if I don't absolutely have to do it right now and will be totally screwed if I don't, I put it off.  I try to make lists, leave myself notes, give myself pep talks, but nothing helps much.  When the creditors are knocking and I need the money to keep from going to court, then I sit myself down and tear through a job to get paid, and feel stupid that I didn't do it much sooner.  So I *can* do the work, and I'm fortunate that I'm smart enough to do it fast, but it's still a miserable way to get by.  Ten billable hours a week would cover my living costs, but I don't manage that most of the time.

It started in school, when I could do the homework during class while all the other kids were still learning the lesson, or in a pinch I could knock out a 3-week essay on the bus in the way in.  Then it got worse, to where I'd turn stuff in late and use the extra credit to get back up to an A.  In real life, the consequences are worse, of course.

As best I can figure from bouncing ideas off a counselor, the problem is that I hate having to do anything on anyone else's terms, and when it came to mental work, I've never had to.  Terminal stubbornness, basically, and having no self-discipline.  I'll spend an hour writing and polishing a comment for someone else's blog, but when I think about spending an hour working on a job that's over deadline, I get tired and start rationalizing a nap.  Even with my own projects, I get started well, but I think I start to balk when I reach the point where I'd be going live soon, because then I'll be obligated to support it.

Sorry to go on so long, but as you can probably tell, I've been struggling with this for a long time, and I hate wasting my God-given brains this way (and giving smart people a bad name).  If you have any suggestions, I appreciate them, and also your time in reading this.
High intelligence, superlative athleticism, and great beauty come with the same handicap; the expectation that the mere possession of it is sufficient to merit the high regard of others and material success.  My recommendation is that AB belatedly get over his intelligence, realize that no one but him actually gives a damn about it, and focus on developing his self-discipline so he has the wherewithal to pay attention to a task longer than the average male kindergartener with ADD.

Some very smart people don't seem to realize that talking about their intelligence is no more intrinsically interesting to normal people than listening to strong people talking about how strong they are or pretty people talking about how pretty they are to them.  Nor do they realize that their obsession with one facet of their lives tends to render them rather low in the socio-sexual hierarchy. There is a reason, after all, that Roissy subtracted a point for IQ over 120 in rating male attractiveness.

The chief problem here isn't a lack of focus per se, but rather that intelligent people can rationalize practically anything, no matter how stupid or self-destructive it is. 

If AB really wants to change his life, then I recommend first getting involved in an activity where intelligence doesn't help much, if at all.  Full contact martial arts is a great way of truly understanding the irrelevance of intelligence versus hard work.  Weightlifting is also good; the iron doesn't care and you can't persuade it off the bar.  He doesn't need to develop a work ethic, but rather, a work habit.

The second thing is to learn to start completing tasks.  Pick a small, reasonable goal and do not permit any divergence from it until it is accomplished.  Then pick a larger one, and do it again.  There is a sort of decision paralysis that tends to afflict the highly intelligent; the more options one can see, the harder it can be to choose between them.  But in this case, the perfect is not only the enemy of the good, it is the enemy of accomplishing anything.

The third thing is to get over the fear of failure.  The intelligent often pre-rationalize their failures by refusing to throw themselves sufficiently into their projects and responsibilities.  But this is simple self-sabotage and an exercise in repeated frustration.

AB is starting late.  These are lessons he should have learned by his mid-twenties.  But in such cases, better late than never.  The prime objective is to avoid getting trapped into the high-IQ gamma mindset, in which everything happens to the gamma for reasons beyond his control and nothing is ever his fault.

61 comments:

Dr. Faust said...

But...but..girls say they like smart guys.

worm-is-not-nice said...

A few points, which AB will doubtless not appreciate hearing:

1. AB's question is badly posed. He frames it in terms of an IQ qualifier, which is entirely irrelevant. Imagine he'd asked 'What would you recommend for a high-IQ fattie who can't stop gorging on the carbs?' You'd recommend the same thing as you would for a low-IQ fattie, which is to stop gorging in the carbs.

2. At no point does AB mention goals, plans, aims, ambitions or anything longer term than getting his week's work done or tinkering with some toy projects in his back yard. If I gave enough of a shit, I'd find this faintly depressing. Frankly, I don't see why he feels the need to bother improving his follow-through, as he's already pissed whatever talent he might have against the wall already.

3. And then there's IQ. Vox mentioned this already, but it's worth reiterating and extending the point. There's no doubt that IQ is a good measure of general intelligence––the best one we have, in fact. And there's no less of a doubt that, ceteris paribus, it's better to have a high IQ than a low one. But make no mistake: IQ is a measure of algorithmic intelligence, and algorithmic intelligence has been outsourced to far more effective devices than us. AB mentions Sodoku; well, my cell phone can crack a Sodoku faster than any human being alive, and it's as dumb as a post when it comes to real cognition. In the long run, relying on IQ as a measure of valuable human intelligence will be about as edifying as citing the Special Olympics as a measure of athletic virtuosity.*

*Which is not to say that the Special Olympics cannot be edifying for other reasons.

JDC said...

Weight lifting is also a great way to understand a different hierarchy in life. At our gym we have neurosurgeons lifting alongside grocery story bag boys on equal footing. Pumping iron is also a great activity for people who don't get to see a lot hard results from their work. You work hard, you get results, and if you've never done it before - the results come quickly.

tz said...

First, I doubt you are sitting on the couch doing sodoku all day. There is *something* you like to do. Maybe several things. It may not translate into much money now, but that is where to start. Simply get paid to do something you would do anyway.

First a note on health - you need exercise, but unless you can bring yourself to enjoy it, I wouldn't start too aggressively. Walk-jog-run and use podcasts or audiobooks to keep your mind from the idle-thought-overheat. Downpour.com has titles on everything, or if you accept DRM, Audible. So "Just do it", but find something sustainable.

Audit your eating and drinking habits. If you are overweight, I would suggest trying any of the low-carb diets - Primal, Paleo, Atkins, Harcombe. It will take two weeks but you will have energy, think clearly, and not be hungry. Sugar is the most abused drug.

Now find what you like doing mentally and do anyway if you aren't paid, and use your IQ to find how to get paid for it. I program - in that I like debugging, making code pretty (and deterministic so fewer bugs), so I can get paid a lot. I find that I have a similar "ADD", but that tends to mean I'm burned out and need to take a walk or drive, or I'm working not only on paid work, but my projects, several simultaneously (My desk is usually a mess but that is because I'm switching between the bread-boarded circuit, the embedded device, the test fixture, and the stack of datasheets I need to read depending on the mood I'm in at the particular minute or inspiration.

Third, Pray. God is the greatest goal in life, but a goal which will come to you if you but ask honestly. Most of what you are worried about are vices and sins. Substituting pride or addiction to exercise for indolence and sloth is not really a victory. It sounds like you need to overcome your flesh, but still, this requires building up and conforming your will. If you can will something, you can then will your mind to focus, and your body to change.

I have many problems with Alcoholics Anonymous, but one thing they have exactly right is you cannot defeat things like addiction or indolence without a higher power. If you had the power today, yourself, you would have already changed. Temporal goals are easily forgotten when the discomfort and pain of the change begin. You need something transcendent, eternal.

Becoming a better blob of flesh is hard, and you are generally on your own. Becoming a real man - body AND SOUL is harder, but more likely to bring success as you have a heavenly ally.

We are a will and an intellect and a body. The intellect you seem to have taken care of. But to change you need to fix and strengthen the will. The body will follow.

Dr. Faust said...

There's also a difference between a high verbal IQ and a high mechanical IQ.

e96dd1c6-d05b-11e2-ad29-000bcdcb2996 said...

Character counts. And once you get to the +3SD IQ range, it becomes critical. As Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

691 said...

Reading between the lines, I'm going to guess that your problems result from trying to preserve your ego and self-image as a "smart" person. As you describe them, you work habits seem to fit the profile of "preemptive failure", where you unconsciously self-sabotage yourself as a way of maintaining some control over your life. If you completely invested yourself and your emotions in an ambitious project, you would have to face the enormous uncertainty and possibility of failure. Instead, you hold back because then at least you have some control over the outcome: it's the familiar failure that comes from starting too late and trying to hustle your way out of the problem.

What you have to do is give up your self-image as a "high-IQ" person. Not that it's not true, but it's a trait not an identity.

You have to pursue some ambitious goal and be willing to put yourself and your ego on the line, to accept that you may fail.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

Wow, that sounds familiar. A childhood where you can hit the maximum reward by occasional short term intense effort. I suffer from a similar situation. Since you are a computer person, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of "Time Management for System Administrators" by Tom Limoncelli. It's based on the Franklin Covey system, but described in more accessible terms.

The suggestion to lift weights is probably a very bad one for you, I know it is for me. Pick something that will give you much more immediate rewards and reinforcement. I've done a little Crossfit and the culture of encouraging and supporting each other can be very effective, there's a reason it's detractors call it "Cultfit". It's good for keeping your motivation level up. I haven't done any Parkour, but it may be something else to look at, being in motion engages a lot more of your brain. Finally, I've done some aerial work and loved it, but all too often the instructors are psycho bitches who loathe the thought of a straight white male who is a beta trying to improve himself.

So, pick something that gives you positive reinforcement while doing it and that you will be able to see solid improvement over short periods of time.

GF Dad said...

I would echo the advice to pray and seek God. Also, consider changing your diet. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so forgive me if this doesn't work for you. Three years ago, I eliminated gluten and later rice and 90% of the other grains and starches from my diet and it has made a world of difference. I've gotten off anti-anxiety and blood pressure meds and lost weight. I have confidence, strength and stamina like I have never had before. I just regret not having known about the change this would make. I've noticed similar changes just by doing week long juice fasts. Diet effects your mind.

Trust said...

Most of the world's greatest problems have been caused by geniuses.

Geniuses may be remarkable in their ability to understand complexities like chemistry. But they are equally remarkable in their ignorance of human nature, often naively assuming people are logical creatures.

tz said...

One further practical suggestion. Do a task list in a form that works with your ADD and shifting attention. I use a stack of index cards with a compact pen. I write various tasks I can do and check it when I'm between things I want to do. Even things like backing up or maintaining (e.g. defragmenting) my computer. There are tasks I need to get done but aren't urgent, others that are urgent so I get a reminder, yet others are just something I need to look up that I thought about when I was out.

I haven't found anything better since pen and paper takes only the time to uncap the pen, and I can go graphic and don't have to hit backspace (just remember to write clearly). Something might work better for you. I cross out completed tasks (sometimes rewriting them if I need to complete a different aspect), and when there is too much I take a minute or two to move things to a new card.

Also, like many, I keep forgetting to start background things when I leave, so I've taken to putting them (or a post-it) next to the exit where I can't miss them at the point I think of them.

poohbum said...

How weird I read this now, I'm just about to check myself for ADD soon since I am very much like this guy (but younger). My brain is a complete scatter, but I always figured my inability to pay attention without thinking about something else, plan, move forward, focus and whatever was just me. I guess I'll see if it is just me.
The internet doesn't help...

noseintheair said...

Competitive dancing is also a place to grow stones. it is a world apart from things like competitive lifting; but it comes from the latinos who gave us the word "macho." It also does not care about other kinds of ranking (surgeon vs. plumber) and also cares little about your feelings; and exposes you to a variety of male and female "types."

rycamor said...

If you can't impose structure on yourself, you need to put yourself in a position that does it for you. Work a blue-collar job if you have to. For a high-IQ person, hard labor is actually a form of rest. You know that at the start of the day you have X square feet of wall to cover, needing about Y gallons of paint, and once you set yourself in motion, you can let your brain dwell on whatever it wants to. And if the work permits earpieces, so much the better. Listen to your favorite music, podcasts, audio books, or even better, the audio Bible.

And then, at the end of the day, if your brain has had enough play and wants to work, you can still bill a few hours at night, and probably make as much money as you made during the day.

Once you have some sort of structure to your life, adding more structure isn't as hard. Goals and priority lists are necessary, but not enough. Set up some block time: "From 8PM to 10PM Mon-Thu, I will do nothing but billable programming hours." or something like that. The key to block time is that you can clear your mind of the nagging thought that you are skimping on something else that needs to be done. If anything urgent distracts you, just write it down and get back to the task at hand.

Amy G said...

Honestly, once he started talking about being tested in 8th grade, I skipped down to VD's reply because I lost interest in anything else he had to say and figured the reply would fill me in. Sure enough...

hideous said...

At any given moment, you are either consuming or you are producing. By consuming, I mean of OTHER PEOPLE'S PRODUCTION in the form of their work or thoughts or words, usually consumed for your own entertainment. For most people consumption is through TV and/or internet (surfing, email, gaming, social networks).

So for the first step, you must STRICTLY LIMIT CONSUMPTION. Set it to two hours a day or less. It doesn't matter at this point what you put in its place as long as it's not consumptive. Even if all you can come up with is staring blankly into nowhere. Don't force what the replacement is. Eventually, if you hold the line, you will eventually fill that "negative space" with something productive. This step may take a while. And of course it is very difficult. You may feel miserable and bored as you go through addiction withdrawal. Most people will never take this first step.

Bobby Dupea said...

You have a monkey brain (that values short-term stimulation) and a human-brain, that comprehends and values abstraction, achievement over time, delayed gratification. We all have both. Whatever you are doing to distract yourself in the here and now is destroying your life. You need to think about how you think, and recognize the harm the monkey brain is doing, and suppress it to stay on task. You need to think about how you're thinking.

All of this is in Chapter 6 of You're Not So Smart. Yes, I have procrastination issues. I'll leave my computer in my office at the end of the day, turn off the iPhone, only buy liquor when I want to drink it (and not house it), do my PT at 5 a.m., and the rest. All habits, really no different or more elaborate than what a smoker would do if he wanted to stay clean: not hang out where people smoke. If I were to guess, your TV, web surfing, junk food consumption, and maybe alcohol/dope consumption now consume entire days if you're not careful. None of these habits, as simple as they are, result in accomplishing anything, though their presence in most lives is ubiquitous.

Also, I'd drop the sense of entitled befuddlement about why someone who scored 32 on the ACT might have these problems. No one gives a fuck about what a man did in high school on a three-hour test, and certainly not women and men of value. And *certainly* not your 'please me now' monkey brain. Behaviors have a cumulative effect, and you need some cold turkey on your distraction behaviors of choice.

It won't take but more than few weeks to develop new habits, and rigorous attention to those habits will yield new rewards personally and professionally -- overnight.

Also, look up your local Fight Club chapter.

(Formerly known as BuenaVista)

Huggums said...

"AB is starting late. These are lessons he should have learned by his mid-twenties. But in such cases, better late than never. The prime objective is to avoid getting trapped into the high-IQ gamma mindset, in which everything happens to the gamma for reasons beyond his control and nothing is ever his fault."

Definitely true. I'm glad I realized how much of a problem these bad habits could be and started when I was around 18. I'm not perfect, but I'm better. I started confronting and attacking my weaknesses. Take that advice about developing your physical fitness. Best advice you could get.

denizenofgoo said...

Grady Towers's excellent essay 'Outsiders'. For more motivation check out how he died.

" the problem is that I hate having to do anything on anyone else's terms, and when it came to mental work, I've never had to. Terminal stubbornness, basically, and having no self-discipline."

and your own terms.

Eric Mueller said...

I always test high for ADHD, although the tests I've taken are made by the same people who would get my "subscription" for the medications. I'm always a little leery of their subjectivity.

When I find I'm procrastinating something, it's usually because I either don't understand it well enough, or because I don't give a flying crap if it ever gets done or not. I've learned to focus more on things I do care about. Most of my attention span problems came from having unrealistic expectations of myself, or other people (ex-wife) having unrealistic expectations of me.

It doesn't sound like you've had much structure in your life. It's too late to join the military, which would knock you into shape. For about $7, you can get Victor Pride's "30 Days of Discipline" http://30daysofdiscipline.info/ . It's motivating, and mostly realistic.

Doom said...

Yeah... sucks... but... What they taught you in public ed, even most private schools, sucking up to you if you showed potential (proved smarter than teachers/admin, low hurdle that it is), doesn't win anything outside of teh stupid zone. It sure fascinated school teachers though.

That, actually, is why so many liberals are liberal. They were smarter than teachers and were lead to believe that was really something. When they entered the real world and it shit on that, their whole game was pretty much over. Now they demand the super equality they came to believe in and expect.

Do, or shut up and sit in the corner (or otherwise get out of the way). Do or do not, the world doesn't have time for talk. Prove you can and the world will love you. The less you can do it for, the faster, the better? The more love you will get. Enough, and they might even listen to your bullshit about being "bright", "pretty", "strong", or whatnot. Until the next problem presents... It's always 'what have you done for me lately'.

Oh, no complaints. Everyone with half a brain, or other slightly above average thing, has to learn. The thing I hated was realizing I really couldn't do it all. Pick a few things you really love, learn them well, then do them. Figure out what you can't do, or well, and figure out who can and work with them or pay for it... or trade what you can do. Just get it fucking done or shut the hell up... and sit in the corner mumbling about having whatever you think you have.

Nova said...

Nothing of value in life comes without hard work, and hard work is not really possible without discipline.

Being of high intelligence is helpful in that it gives you a leg up in certain areas, but is , or can be, harmful in other areas -- just like any other trait. What matters is not how intelligent you are, provided you are at least somewhat above average in wit, but rather what you do with it -- and that means hard work and the discipline which makes it possible.

The trouble that very smart people have is that early in life things can be quite easy for them in terms of academic achievement, which is generally overemphasized. They can "get away with" getting great results with rather meager efforts, and some of them begin to see this as a kind of "dividend" of being smarter than average, perhaps quite a bit smarter than average. The problem with this, however, is that it is very short-lived and it creates a very unhelpful pattern of thought for later in life. This is why it is critical, absolutely critical, for parents of high intelligence kids to make sure that even if their kids have it easy in school, that they also have a lot of other experiences in their young lives which are much more difficult, much harder for them to master, and require a lot of effort and discipline to do so -- and, and this is the critical piece, are equally valued by their parents. This creates an outlook that places the relative ease of their academic achievement at that early stage in its proper context of being one small part of a life which will require generally a ton of very hard and focused effort and a lot of discipline to achieve much of anything of use.

For too many, this doesn't happen, and they enter young adulthood still seeing their intellect as a way to assist them to cut corners on other people. The trouble, of course, is that once you walk away from the classroom, this isn't possible. Generally, these people can "keep up average" performance by leveraging their high ability without making too much of an effort, but they cant keep up with people of much lesser intelligence who are blasting past them in achievement and goals and so on because they have ambition, discipline and they work hard. The latter three are much, much more important in life than high intelligence, even in fields that are populated by true geniuses like theoretical physics. What these people need to learn, often the hard way, is that using their intelligence as a crutch to achieve a very average result with no real achievement is a complete waste of whatever intelligence they have -- and often they only learn it when, in their 30s or even 40s, their lesser intelligent but more disciplined, ambitious and hard-working peers are blowing them out professionally and personally. The latter are not as smart, and may not have the "most interesting ideas" or be able to talk intelligently about as many things or what have you, but they blow past you because they have what it takes to achieve things in life, and you don't, even though you are more intelligent.

So the best thing you can do is recognize that your intelligence, at this point in your life, has probably become a complete crutch for you. That means you need to develop discipline and a hard work ethic -- which you can do by doing things that are difficult for you, that have nothing to do with intelligence, and for which, therefore, you can't fall back on your raw intellect as a crutch to help you achieve acceptably average results with minimal effort. In other words, the things you should have been forced to do as a kid or teenager. You have a lot of catching up to do. It may be too late, I don't know -- but it's worth trying to change the course.

Ingemar said...

I agree, there is no substitute for accomplishing tasks, and for that there is no substitute for actual work.

Here's an idea--in the next three weeks try to earn $50 dollars through a means other than your job (assuming you have one). Go online and look up "how to make money." There are literally hundreds of ideas on how to do this but I'll spot you a few--sell on eBay, sell on Amazon.

I got started by selling items on clearance sales and shipping them to Amazon, pricing them 2-3x higher than what I bought them for. Immediately I was thinking, "Now how sustainable is this as a business model? Why would anyone buy from me? Plus if I could find a deal a thousand others and we would price war each other all the way to the bottom."

Had I succumbed to my doubts I would not be a hundred dollars richer.

Point is, set goals, believe in yourself, and don't be so into rationalizing why something you try won't work--it is a common failing of all people of above average intelligence.

Oak said...

For a high-IQ person, hard labor is actually a form of rest. -rycamor

That all depends on the labor. I spent much of a summer sandblasting and painting crane counterweights on a shop yard and it was absolute mental torture. At no point could I zone out and entertain my own thoughts because moving the big counterweights around was boring but potentially hazardous enough that it required constant focus. I got home too tired to do anything but grab food and sleep so I could drag myself out of bed the next morning to do it again. By the end my brain literally started to go on strike, to the extent my inner monologue was going silent. (that may not make sense to some people, not sure how else to say it)

Yeah, I know, woe is me, etc. But I was thankful for the money at the time, and it taught me something extremely valuable, which is that taking the path of least resistance actually ends up being one of the most difficult ways to live.

-Sensei

aeolipera said...

I recommend Bible readings for ADD. Dunno why it works, but give it a shot (and collect some data as your mileage may vary).

aeolipera said...

By the end my brain literally started to go on strike, to the extent my inner monologue was going silent. (that may not make sense to some people, not sure how else to say it)

I had this for two years in college. Some sort of executive function problem (feels exactly like your brain is on strike). I would not recommend operating heavy machinery when this is happening, as I had two accidents and several tickets during this period.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

Lots of good points. The big thing is to develop discipline. If you try to do it all at once you are almost certainly going to fail. That's why I recommended picking things that you can see regular progress with. It took me six months of very hard work and a lot of physical pain to become a good enough marksman to shoot to Rifleman standards in the Appleseed Project, but I did it. It was hard and I was one of the least talented students they have ever had. It was 104 with no shade for the first weekend. I stuck with it and I succeeded.

I generally stay away from highly competitive situations. I like to win and if I'm continually losing very badly, it's really frustrating and a disincentive to continue. Challenges are good, but too big of a challenge is bad.

Folks talk about manual labor as a way to let your brain idle. Mine doesn't work that way, too much boredom and my mind races out of control. Before the invention of personal music players, mowing the yard was really difficult.

Find an activity you like. I used to sail and race beach cats. It was a lot of fun and quite good exercise. I've thought of taking up windsurfing or kiteboarding.

Stick with it and know that at the very least, I'm cheering you on to success.

AB said...

I'm the guy who wrote the email above. Many thanks to Vox and everyone else who chimed in with suggestions. There's a lot of good stuff there, and I'll be rereading it over the next few days. The suggestions to start lifting make a lot of sense; I know I feel better when I do something like that.

To clear up one thing: I don't obsess about IQ; I don't talk to people about it in real life or belong to any high-IQ groups. I didn't bring it up because I think a high IQ should guarantee success, but because a high IQ does make a lot of things in life easier, so I have less excuse for failing. I suppose I try to use that as motivation: "With your gifts you should be doing better than this, so get on with it." That doesn't help, though.

I've thought about getting a job that's more physical than mental, where I'd punch a clock and someone else would make the decisions, but that seems like giving up. If I have the talents to make $100/hour -- and be able to help out family and friends and do charitable works and so on -- would it be right to take a job lifting boxes for $10/hour just so my mind is free to daydream all day? That seems like catering to my mental laziness. Am I wrong?

I'll have more to say later, but one thing I'd recommend to parents of smart kids: don't worry about their academics; worry about their self-discipline. My parents are very disciplined people, and I think they just assumed I'd inherit that, but it appears to be a skill you have to learn. If your kid is smart and you teach him self-discipline, the academics will take care of themselves. If you focus on the academics, he may be able to put up good grades against the field without ever really learning to work hard.

Some dude said...

I needed this, thanks

Some dude said...

There is a sort of decision paralysis that tends to afflict the highly intelligent; the more options one can see, the harder it can be to choose between them

That is actually the worst. I can get so bad I can end up sitting for an hour doing nothing while four or five really important tasks compete in my head for priority. Then a day passes, then another, etc.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

You might think about joining Mensa. It's not bad for a built in social life if you travel. Some groups are a lot of fun, others are deathly boring. I bought a life membership years ago and have never regretted it, but I have spent long periods of time where I didn't go to anything.

Yeah, lots of people make snide comments about it, but I've found it to be better than bars that are so loud that my ears ring for days afterwards. I can't stand professional sports, I think they are a waste of time, effort and taxpayer dollars.

Ez said...

This was encouraging to me in a different way. As a homeschooling mom of three average boys, I feel a bit panicky sometimes over all the intelligence talk that drives a lot of parent chatter.

It seems that in the race of life, the finish line is "intelligence" or "athleticism" and everything is geared towards that. I'm not even sure what the goal should be. But it's nice to think that my sons aren't necessarily doomed by their lack of IQ.

AB said...

It's interesting that Vox mentioned fear of failure. One thing I've noticed is that I don't like to start on a project until I have it completely worked out in my head, or at least have a pretty good idea how it's all going to work. (I don't mean I've written all 1000 lines of code in my mind, but I've thought through all the problems and basically have a mental flowchart and a good idea how each part will work.) Maybe that's because if I don't have it all figured out, I might fail, or at least be seen to struggle, and I hate that idea.

It doesn't bother me a bit if someone sees me strike out in a baseball game, but being seen to struggle or fail at a mental task does. Hmm, maybe I'm more obsessed with my smarts than I realized.

AB said...

About making lists: it seems like I've tried about every kind of list making and organizing technique out there. That's really not the problem in my case. I usually know what I need to do next; it's getting myself to do it that's difficult.

In fact, if I make a list on an index card and stick it in my pocket, there's a very good chance that I'll forget it's there until I'm doing the laundry. There has to be some denial going on there, some part of my mind that blocks it out so I can go play.

I often have the problem Some Dude describes of being torn between too many to-do tasks; but in my case, I think that's just another excuse for not working. I know the answer is to just throw a dart and pick one, so if I don't do that, I'm deciding not to.

Markku said...

About making lists: it seems like I've tried about every kind of list making and organizing technique out there. That's really not the problem in my case. I usually know what I need to do next; it's getting myself to do it that's difficult.

Business idea: Smart deadbeat customer hire a big guy to smack him around every time he fails a deadline he has set for himself. Smackings get progressively worse.

A Man For All Seasons said...

I am very similar to this guy. I only got a 32 on my ACT, not 32+ on all scores, but its close. I think of this as mental horsepower. It still takes motivation and guts to achieve things, and it takes people skills as well as the ability to complete hard programming tasks.

As for motivation, I've recently come to see this as an issue of dopamine and testosterone. One of the commenters above says he thinks weight lifting would be a poor solution for this guy, because it doesn't provide an immediate payoff. I disagree.

If you lift the heaviest weight you can manage on each type of exercise (squats, bench, etc), and try to either increase reps or weights each week, you can see amazingly rapid gains in stength, like 5-10 lbs/week for the first few months. This is very satisfying. Also, this type of lifting, together with a low carb / high protein diet, will max testosterone and dopamine levels, which will give you a sense of drive.

Finally, yes, I am under an extremely high stakes deadline right now, and am wasting my time on blog posts. I hope this helps some people. Now I'm going to get to work.

Recruit said...

AB,

I highly recommend you read the Rich Dad Poor Dad series and start learning the power of the mirror. It has done wonders for me, and I'm absolutely certain it will do the same for you. There are multiple forms of intelligence that do not grow at all based on growth in another area. Examples, Physical intelligence (most effect for least effort), Financial Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Etc... You have to develop them all.

kudzu bob said...

Perhaps AB should have his testosterone level checked.

badgerhut said...

Except in matters of degree, I could have written this letter. I know the doing things up near deadline, not wanting to do "work" things as much as things I feel are voluntarily for my own enrichment, the fear of failure causing me to shy away from things I don't think I'd succeed at, the not wanting to start something until I have it all planned out, the analysis paralysis. I've spoken with a number of other people in my work life who have the same thing going on. (I suspect my lack of desire to do something "expected" of me goes back to some betariffic training by women in my family, constantly concerned with making me superficially please others as a child that I developed a lifelong backlash.)

I can't say I had any secret to developing my self-discipline, but it seemed to start early for me as a second core value along with exercising my mind. I was driven to succeed by whatever metrics were put in front of me.

Whether it has to do with intelligence or not, know that you're not alone - lots of successful people have the same challenges; it's not that it's that much easier for them, but they've honed the skill and habit, and built a secondary reward system for being disciplined.

Just this week I was reading Charlie Munger, who discussed "granny's rule" - no ice cream until you eat your carrots, or, organizing your day so that the uncomfortable stuff gets done first and the stuff you are automatically driven to do will happen automatically after the drag stuff is done.

One piece of advice I'd offer is, as Vox has done, make your plan...very...simple. A complicated or many-numbered plan is going to make it harder to solve, not easier.

Actually, here's a post that might be of help: http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/self-affirmations-that-actually-work/

I wrote it to codify something that works for me - to remind myself of the reward of something that is hard to get started, like “you should go lift because you always feel great after you do it.”

The health advice is smart too; I personally found that when I started taking Omega 3 fish oil and lifting more regularly, my ability to concentrate and complete tasks was greatly improved.

badgerhut said...

"I'll have more to say later, but one thing I'd recommend to parents of smart kids: don't worry about their academics; worry about their self-discipline. My parents are very disciplined people, and I think they just assumed I'd inherit that, but it appears to be a skill you have to learn. If your kid is smart and you teach him self-discipline, the academics will take care of themselves. If you focus on the academics, he may be able to put up good grades against the field without ever really learning to work hard."

Eric Barker posted a fasincating study on his blog: a group of kids were given an exam. When the results came in, some of them were praised for their intelligence, while the rest were praised for their work ethic (the results were thus linked in their minds to the trait being praised). Then they were given another exam. The kids who had been praised for their work ethic did better on the subsequent exam. I don't recall the exact details, but the conclusion proferred was that being praised for something innate led to a sense of complacency, while praise for something controllable led students to double down on that trait.

You'll notice that coaches routinely praise their athletes in public for hard work.

JCclimber said...

Wow, I've struggle with this from time to time myself.
Being able to succeed in many, many fields was extremely difficult to choose a career path (with no adult guidance).
Coasting through school without developing self-discipline. etc..

AB, perhaps one important thing is missing from your lists:
Prioritization.
Your list should be prioritized, with only the top prioritized task getting your attention until it is completed. Not started....completed.
Then on to the next one.
Try it daily for a week.

Vox said...

if I don't have it all figured out, I might fail, or at least be seen to struggle, and I hate that idea.

That's not a surprise. You've very vain about your intelligence, so much so that you're permitting it to make you an uncompetitive loser.

I know people who didn't turn in their completed PhD theses because they were too afraid of the possibility they might not be brilliant and ground-breaking, merely sufficient to receive the degree for which they'd spent time and money.

Give up the vanity. Take the risks. If you fail, so what. Try again. This is where the martial arts are very helpful. You quickly learn there is no shame in being decked, there is only shame in a) refusing to fight, or b) refusing to get up.

AB said...

You've very vain about your intelligence, so much so that you're permitting it to make you an uncompetitive loser.

You could be right. It occurred to me this morning that I don't fear failure so much as embarrassment. I fail multiple times every day, every time I think "I'll start on that later." That's what the whole email was about. But instead of applying my intelligence to fixing that failure, I mostly apply it to inventing excuses and putting on an act for others so they can't see it. I seem to care more about the appearance than the actual failure, and I guess there's no better term for that than vanity.

All the diet advice is good, but I've been low-carb and gluten-free for a while. I can tell a difference in my health, but it doesn't make much difference on this issue. I'm going to try to up my intake of T-enhancing foods, though.

I have a list of 3 things to do today, in that order. I'm also going to lift weights when I get home tonight (large chunks of firewood for now, until I can afford some free weights).

I've been talking to a counselor about this for over a year, and I think I got more good advice here in one day, so I'm glad I wrote. Thanks again to Vox and everyone.

AB said...

Badger,

That's great stuff about using affirmations that are true. I always had the same problem with feeling like I was trying to fool myself. Many standard recommendations for fighting procrastination are the same way, like the one I read about putting a non-important task at the top of your list so when you skip it and work on other things it won't matter. Uh, sorry, but I can't trick myself that easily. Now that I think about it, when giving myself a pep talk has worked, it's been when I had a particular achievable goal in mind, and not when I was using open-ended affirmations.

Simple said...

Your post could have been written by me. I imagine there are multiple people who read this blog who feel the same way. I don't have this beat, but I am able to get more done now than I ever have before. The main things I changed were as follows:

- Pick up a martial art. Might be tough for you if you can't get your income above the essentials. However, doing MA will engage your brain and your body simultaneously while also providing discipline. Also, with each belt, you will feel rewarded for your work ethic rather than your innate intelligence.

- Delegate. You mention that you don't like finishing something because you will have to support it afterwards. I've found that by having someone else roll out the things I produce, that person becomes responsible for the Level 1 type problems and I only have to deal with the Level 2 or 3 problems. Level 2 and 3 problems are the challenging Sudokus you want to deal with.

- Commit as little as possible to memory. Your memory, like RAM in a PC, should be dedicated problem solving. If you are trying to challenge yourself by telling yourself, "I don't need to write this shit down, it's all up here," you are wasting your resources when there are a million ways to free up your memory. I use my Inbox for keeping tabs on what needs to be done (including sending emails to myself to remember things) and then filing emails away when they are done or deleting things that I never need to think about again. If my Inbox gets past 30 emails, I know I either have too much shit on my plate or have gotten lazy.

Good luck.

AB said...

It's interesting how many people recommended martial arts, because I've thought for a long time that I'd like to join a boxing club. Hitting someone and getting hit just seems like it'd be awfully satisfying somehow.

Bobby Dupea said...

"I've been talking to a counselor about this for over a year, and I think I got more good advice here in one day, so I'm glad I wrote."

The therapist's objective function is not to fix you. His objective function is to get you to come back next week. He can't pay his mortgage if you don't come back next week. What you're paying him will pay instead, and more helpfully, for a pair of running shoes and half-a-dozen dumbbells at Walmart.

And you don't need weights, anyhow. You have your body weight. Situps pushups pullups body squats run around the block. The Marines at Iwo were not bodybuilders.

No one cares about your personal issues, not even your mom. Don't think that paying another human for 50 minutes of attention means that that person gives a shit about you. That person just wants you to come back again and pay for another 50 minutes. This is not a nihilistic insight. It is the key to the door, that leads to a door, that promises freedom.

herenvardo said...

Good advice, VD.

Since I started going back to gym, my focus has improved in inverse proportion to my faffing about. This guy has a lot of the same problems I do, though I've never been told how high my IQ was (probably better that way).

Exercise is the answer to so many questions.

RobertT said...

Pardon me, but I think this is bullshit. Intelligence and athletic skills do not hinder you from having success with women. My iq is in that range and have numerous Honor's and awards for intelligence. I graduated at the top every time I graduated. I also played most sports competitively, led my baseball team with a 471 batting average to the state championship, went to state in basketball and skied with the Olympic team. And even in my decripit age I have no trouble with women. I've never dated anything but beautiful women. To this day I am still athletic and have no troubled attracting women in their 20s. Something besides intelligence is causing this guy's troubles. Probably whatever the reverse of the dark triad is called.

Emma said...

"The third thing is to get over the fear of failure. The intelligent often pre-rationalize their failures by refusing to throw themselves sufficiently into their projects and responsibilities. But this is simple self-sabotage and an exercise in repeated frustration."

This can sometimes be a product of stupid parents always telling their kid "you're so smart", and praising their natural talent, rather than achievements. Parents, do not do this. Do not build your kid's identity around some natural talent!! It makes them want to only do the easy tasks. A hard task would break their "smart guy/girl" identity, which you established.

And if you're an adult whose parents did this, learn to try and fail, and build identity around something you earn yourself.

BoysMom said...

I'm parenting high IQ boys. It doesn't matter how high the IQ is, they need a challenge. They need to have to work to achieve my academic standards for them.
How you'd apply this to an adult who didn't get it as a kid, I don't know.

empathological said...

I cant understand none of this

rodfreeman said...

I'm not a superintelligence by any standard but I breezed through high school and found college and then two University degrees to be no more challenging. I don't think I studied for more than an hour for any of my exams while getting my Master's Degree.

I attribute it all to gaming the system and practicing simple memory development (ie. pinning, anchoring etc)

Once I figured out how to play the academic game it was easy. Universities do not require one iota of creative thought. All you have to do is be good at regurgitation. If your professor is at all political (they all are) you simply need to parrot back their political pablum of choice in subtle ways.

Occasionally I would have enough of the total BS some feminist prof was spouting and skewer her assumptions with perfect logic. All of those experiments resulted in lousy grades. I got one essay back with a big C- on the top in red, but absolutely no comments anywhere in the paper. When I went to her office to inquire why she gave me a crap grade, I was told that my libertarian, free market approach was not representative of what she was teaching in class. I asked her to point out a flaw in my logic, grammar or argument. She said nothing. So I tore the paper up and let the pieces flutter all over her desk, smiled and walked out. After that I knew precisely how to play the game. I enthusiastically black knighted the rest of the course and drove her bonkers with my over-the-top, flowery portrayals of our future communist paradise.

One of the things that those experiences left me with after completing my education is a deep sense of cynicism that I have to combat on a regular basis. It’s easy to simply look at a task and rationalize why doing it really isn’t any different than not doing it.

For me becoming a Christian in my early 20’s helped a lot. I am much more likely to embrace a “meaningless” task or activity because I can connect the dots to it furthering some deeper purpose in my life, even if it’s only do develop a particular character trait.

(A few commenters have highlighted the importance of physical exercise. I can definitely attest to the fact that being physically fit and strong does a lot to keep me moving forward in life mentally, physically and spiritually. Some days that one extra rep is the best part of being alive.)

Мишаня said...

huh. that's almost me except age (I'm 28).

I remember when I was at school and we had 4 types of a test and I was doing all of them while many kids was not able to did even one. At university I became so lazy that I almost dropped out, just because I studied to the point of passing. Except English and programming, because I liked them (I learned C and passed the course while my teacher did not know it).

Now I work as a programmer at a russian factory. I work about 2-3 hours a day and read books / learn english / do nothin all other time. I do some planning, but it's like "well, I have to get ready this stuff until september" - while I could have done it in one - two weeks. Factory works slow, I dont have any incentive to take any other projects (I wont get a promotion) or to leave the job (comparing amount of work and payment it looks very nice).

Relationships with girls has turned into online-dating (the easiest). I'm handsome + 7 years in gym, so getting laid is not very hard. I just find some more or less pretty girl online and fuck her for about 3-4 months. Then she gets crazy (I dont intend to marry) and we break up. Continue.

I tried to make lists. I completed all the stuff and was amazed by my perfomance, but, anyway, what's the point. I'm happy by my lifestyle, I have some goals which I slowly approaching (like, pressing 130 from chest in gym). I have enough money. I'm fit. <- that's an example of some sort of self-rationalization.

Thank god I have found TRP; otherwise I would have married some chick because of social pressure.

Going to read the article and comments again. GL AB.

AB said...

I'm glad to report that, in the week since Vox posted this, I've tackled five items at the top of my todo list -- all important things I've been dreading and putting off for a while. It hasn't been easy; it's amazing how strong the resistance and rationalizations are when I just don't want to do something. I still have a long way to go, because years of this have dug some pretty big holes, but it's a better start than I've ever had before, so I have Vox and you guys to thank for that.

A while back, Jack Donovan wrote an article about men starting gyms and other men-only clubs, partly as a way for them to make each other accountable and instill a "healthy sense of shame" for un-masculine behavior. That's been nagging at me ever since, and I think that's what I was looking for here, and got.

Tomorrow I'll be doing lots of heavy lifting (in this case, work, not working out), and getting a short todo list ready for next week.

dayuntoday said...

Wow. It's amazing how much I am relating to this. I coasted through school with little effort, but am completely overwhelmed by simple everyday decisions, and tend to put things off to a ridiculous degree. The unfortunate part is that AB's comment above about teaching self-discipline hits me in the gut. I homeschooled my kids, and the youngest is now 16, so I'm nearly done, BUT...the youngest two are certainly not self-disciplined. This post has really given me some things to think about. Thanks for a thoughtful discussion!

Joe Blow said...

I have experienced similar problems. Here are steps to take to get over it:
1) Life weights. It will increase your testosterone and the incremental positive changes in your looks and well being will give you motivation for self improvement in other areas of life
2) Work on your game and getting laid. It takes effort by as you put forth effort you will get rewarded with pussy and that will motivate you for more hard work
3) Make financial goals rewarding such as going on vacations to cool places or experiences (race car driving, Club VIP etc.)
4)Work on developing yourself in some social way (playing guitar, acting, improv, comedy etc). You need to 'get out of your head'. As a high IQ person you can probably just enjoy yourself thinking about stuff. But to be happy you need to socially interact with other people. Use your intelligence to become expert in this area.
5) See a hypnotherapist. They will program your subconscious to be more motivated or however else you want to improve yourself. Look at reviews online and pick one. It sounds weird as hell but it works.

Joe Blow said...

I have experienced similar problems. Here are steps to take to get over it:
1) Life weights. It will increase your testosterone and the incremental positive changes in your looks and well being will give you motivation for self improvement in other areas of life
2) Work on your game and getting laid. It takes effort by as you put forth effort you will get rewarded with pussy and that will motivate you for more hard work
3) Make financial goals rewarding such as going on vacations to cool places or experiences (race car driving, Club VIP etc.)
4)Work on developing yourself in some social way (playing guitar, acting, improv, comedy etc). You need to 'get out of your head'. As a high IQ person you can probably just enjoy yourself thinking about stuff. But to be happy you need to socially interact with other people. Use your intelligence to become expert in this area.
5) See a hypnotherapist. They will program your subconscious to be more motivated or however else you want to improve yourself. Look at reviews online and pick one. It sounds weird as hell but it works.

Mellow said...

The Great Porn Experiment: Gary Wilson at TEDxGlasgow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU

Some side effects he mentions:
ADHD
Depression
Will power erosion.

Zick said...

How are you doing, AB?

Pussy-ManiaGirls: http://goo.gl/w9Oepq said...

watching my collection, we have upload more video at here:

Collection Part 1:

Doggy Style and In Missionary Position

Hot Sex Anal With Amazing Girl Friend

Sex Under Hot Lights Bad Girls

Give Me The Cum

Cum In My Panties

Nude Amateur Teen Girls

Sexy Brunette Girls

Young Kinky Sluts

Busty Tattoo Chick On Car

Young Asian fucked anal

Latina Havana Ginger gets

Teen Threesome Porn

Hot Blowjob

Amateur Pulls Down Tanga

Sweet girl amazing hot

Sexy japanese babes getting their tight

TEEN BLONDE ANAL SEX ORGY




Collection Part 2:


Hot asian blowjob and pussy creampie

Sucking dick, Audrey put vegetables in all holes

Blonde love fuck

Naomi Russell And Her Royal Ass

Sexy blonde gives blowjob in the car

ASIAN XXX PORN VIDEO

JAPANESE XXX PORN VIDEO

ARABIC XXX PORN VIDEO

HARDCORE PORN VIDEO

GAY XXX PORN VIDEO

WATCH STREAMING PORN VIDEO

USA CELEBS XXX PORN

LATINA XXX PORN

LESBIAN XXX PORN

Hardcore Porn Celebrity

HOT TURKEY PORN MOVIE

INDIAN NUDES CELEBRITIES VIDEOS

UZBEKS Fuck PORN VIDEOS

HOT RASTA GIRL


100% MAKE you satisfy......








































Reply Delete

Post a Comment

NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS.