Why Do Some Intelligent People Fail to Achieve Their Potential?

While it certainly is a boon to be born intelligent, smartness can be acquired over the years via learning. However, sometimes even this deadly combo can fail, when it comes to achieving one’s potential. Yes, you have every reason to be shocked, but this sadly, is the truth. Let us look at why this happens.

Intelligent people

Lack of motivation is one biggest hurdle for intelligent people to fail. A talent lying dormant and unused is a huge waste of resources. Motivation may be external or internal. Depending on external sources for motivation can be inconsistent while internal sources deliver consistent performance. Impulsive behaviour can be quite dampening in professional set ups. Not using one’s full intellectual resources and choosing a random (first) solution could be an impulsive decision leading to failure.

Lack of perseverance can lead to doom, when intelligent people give up easily without putting up a strong fight. Not using the right skill sets for the task at hand is another common cause for failure. Inability to implement ideas is a strong reason for low performance at work. Improper co-ordination between focus on the process and the end results can cause intelligent people to fail. Inconsistency in completing tasks due to the fear of what next, can delay completion and possible success. Fear of failure is another strong deterrent in implementing ideas. Procrastination due to insufficient work pressure is a common occurrence. Psychological issues like, blaming self and others, indulging in self pity, dependency on others and being caught up with personal problems can pose as hurdles in executing tasks effectively. Lack of concentration, undertaking too many activities at one time, concentrating on the details rather than the bigger picture are some other deterrents. Inability to balance between critical, analytical and synthetic thinking and too little or too much self-confidence can also cause problems.

Ashok was a bright student at school and a topper in academics. It was understood that any task given to him, would be completed with perfection. Now, this expectation of perfection was what led to problems and eventually his performance slipped to that of an average person. He became depressed and once a topper, he was now a failure. When we understand that perfection is a myth, no man is perfect and there is always room for improvement, life becomes peaceful.

Shaina, was a supermodel of her times and the showstopper in most shows. As age progressed, her obsession with the perfect body got the better of her and she was soon written off.

So what happened in both cases? A thought that we keep in our mind when we are at the top interferes with the natural flow of things, leading to doom. Perfection is a dangerous habit, one that can seriously lead to psychological issues. Let us face it- abilities, creativity and talents may change with time and the given situation at any point in life. When the changes are accepted with a calm mind, it is possible to still deliver results albeit differently. Instead of ten paintings a week, you could deliver three and that is perfectly okay.

Being overly ambitious can have a detrimental effect on our work. Intelligent people are sensitive and may take a lot of time to bounce back after failures. The time taken between forming ideas and implementing them is long in most cases, which is another reason why intelligent people lag behind. Impatience can thwart performance leading to failure.

So we can safely conclude that it takes more than intelligence to become successful. Other important personality traits like perseverance, being consistent and dedication need to be cultivated.


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