5 Traits Of Extraordinarily Brilliant People


Jennifer Cohen, Contributor

June 30, 2015

We have all heard it time and time again: experts urge us to get six to eight hours of sleep, articles preach to us that true leaders are those who have the ability to make lightning fast decisions and literature informs us that it was curiosity that killed the cat. However, what if I were to tell you that some of America’s most intelligent individuals are those who have made themselves the exception to the rule.

I think Aristotle said it best:

There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.

It is never a good idea to stick to the same regimented routine. Rules are meant to be broken – but take that with a grain of salt. What Aristotle meant here was that in most cases, real geniuses, who are among the top 2% of our nation’s population, often times are the ones to defy the status quo and make literature bite it’s tongue.

When it comes to intelligence, there are many different ways to define and measure it. Street smarts, straight As, innovativeness and IQ tests may come immediately to mind – but what do the people that have these traits and excel at these tests all have in common? I went digging around and found what may set the extraordinarily brilliant apart from the average bright.

1. Nocturnal Rebellion

There ain’t no rest for the wicked…or the wise. In fact, according to Psychology Today, intelligent people are more likely to be nocturnal than people with lower IQ scores. In a study run on young Americans, results showed that intelligent individuals went to bed later on weeknights and weekends than their less knowledgeable counterparts. This is because those who are brilliant are also often times anti-establishment. They refuse to conform to the societal norm of going to bed and waking up at the recommended hours. Instead, they pave their own agendas and allow the energy of the moon to fuel their brainpower.

2. Driven by Curiosity

Some of the most intelligent people are the ones who have not completely grown up yet. Think less Peter Pan, and more Tom Hanks in Big. The 30 to 50-something year olds who have not lost their childlike curiosity tend to be significantly more innovative, creative and original in their craft and make learning new things enjoyable. Sometimes asking yourself “why,” “what” or “how” can open the door to a newfound sense of knowledge and may surprise you.

3. Expert Decision Makers

Those who are blessed with brilliance also have the ability to predict the future. Kidding. However, they do have a great sense of future-focused decision making. In some cases, the ability to think on your feet and decide something within minutes can definitely come in handy. However, allowing internal impulses to do the dirty work for you is not the approach of intelligent individuals. Instead, they consider their options carefully, pinpoint patterns, review statistics, thoroughly research, and meticulously analyze their choices before jumping the gun. It’s always a good idea to put your Eminem thinking caps on and imagine, “if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted…would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

4. Calm, Cool And Collected

We all know that when it rains, it pours, and sometimes that makes it extremely hard for us to brave the storm. Intelligent people are not exactly the exception to the rule; however, they are more likely to handle a chaotic situation in a more productive manner. They are able to see through the storm clearer than others and are equipped with the ability to improvise and problem solve.

5. Abstract Thinkers

Remember high school? Where you would pass the dorky freshman in the hall and your egotistical guy friend would do the classic *cough*nerd*cough?* Or maybe that doesn’t ring a bell but seeing the strange kid sit alone poking around his invention at lunch does. Whatever the case, you may have been in the midst of an extremely intelligent individual. This is due to the idea that most of our world’s geniuses are abstract thinkers who go about things differently than most. No, not all intelligent people are nerds and vice versa, but it would not be a surprise if they were. Brilliant people tend to beat to their own drum – so that weird kid always sitting alone at lunch with his invention was most likely thinking outside of the box, and could also very likely be the boss of you now for doing so.

Also on Forbes:

The Most Common Practices Of Super-Achievers

This article was written by Jennifer Cohen from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

There are 9 comments

  • Steve Korn - 11/08/2015 22:25
    Raw intelligence is fine. All factors being otherwise equal, I choose to associate with people with passion, curiosity, and skills to work with people.

  • Robert Webb, PRC - 10/31/2015 04:38
    I'm not sure one can be in the "midst of" an individual. I believe you mean "in the presence of" an extremely intelligent individual. Also, the cliche is to march to the beat of one's own drum, not to "beat to their own drum." There's something rather curious about composing an article on extraordinarily brilliant people and not bothering to proofread the text.

  • Candice Brown Elliott - 09/15/2015 01:16
    Read the actual research... it showed that the two chronotypes were in fact nearly the same... there was NOT a huge difference in intelligence.

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