I Wasn’t Born Smart: A Common Misconception

unsplash-logoDavid Pennington

Have you ever found yourself thinking “I wish I was as smart as John” or “This school thing isn’t for me. I wasn’t born smart.” Does this sound familiar? If it does, I have some great news for you! There’s a good chance you’re smarter than you think you are. Before you buy into the “I’m not smart” misconception, consider what I’m about to tell you.

A large part of your ability to learn is dependent on your engagement as a learner. How invested are you in the learning process? Are you interested in what you’re learning? Are you displaying the behaviors of a person who wants to learn? Are you communicating with your teachers? Understand, you may have to study longer or work harder than others. This doesn’t mean you’re not smart. It actually may be better for you in the long run (A further explanation can be found in the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth).  

Personal Story:

In school, I was an A/B student (mostly B’s). Honestly, I thought that getting B’s with a few A’s sprinkled in was my ceiling. I did not have the gifts of academic excellence like my friends who went on to graduate with 4.0’s while graduating near the top of the class. College was worse. I found myself out of school after two very average semesters in college. My academic confidence was at an all-time low.

Fast forward a few years, I now have an associate’s degree, I’m well into a B.A. in Political Science from Penn State, and I’ve received multiple academic awards both in school and professionally. It’s been a few years since I’ve received anything less than a B+ in class. What changed? It wasn’t my ability to learn or IQ–it was my confidence and level of engagement. I found myself locked into my studies, asking my professors questions, setting up professional development programs, and surrounding myself with academic minded individuals. To sum it up–I became invested!

You may be thinking, “well you started off with A’s and B’s, it wasn’t that big of a leap. I have D’s and F’s”. Below is a video of Dr. Eric Thomas. When he was a teenager he dropped out of high school. He was homeless in
in Detroit, Michigan without a high school degree. He now has his PhD and is considered one of the top motivational speakers and educational consultants in the country. Take a look at his story:

Clip from Dr. Eric Thomas’ TGIM Series
Mini Documentary