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Sunday, August 23, 2009

My success came through effort, not IQ

I've been looking for years to determine what a good IQ score is, and haven't been able to determine it. I even have a book about IQ scores, and no mention of abnormal, normal, above average scores. This morning, however, as I clicked on the computer there it was on Yahoo News.

Here is the chart on an actual IQ test:
  • 75 poor
  • 80 mediocre
  • 90 below average
  • 100 average
  • 110 above average
  • 120 very good
  • 130 excellent
  • 140 exceptional
  • 150 gifted
  • 160 genius

As I wrote in a previous post, a higher IQ can lead a person to having a more satisfying life, but IQ does not lead to success. What leads to success is effort and determination.

When I was a kid at the asthma hospital in 1985 I had to see a psychologist. She did an IQ test on me. Actually, she did two IQ tests on me, and my results were inconsistent. I scored a 95 and a 105. So that makes me about average.

You have to consider, though, that I was extremely nervous while taking this test. Likewise (and in my defense), according to Flaurence Litnaur in her book "Personality Plus," I am a Peaceful Phlegmatic Personality.

This means I have a very laid back and indecisive personality. The best way to determine if a person is this type is when giving the test they show signs of being every personality type. The reason is they can never decide on the answers to each question. That was me when I took the personality test. I actually had to have my wife sit down with me to determine my "true" personality type.

I think that IQ test I took so long ago was the same. Plus you have to consider I was 15 at the time, and even according to that psychologist, "He's a very immature asthmatic from Michigan."

That was then, though. A lot of things have changed since I was an "immature" 15-year-old. In fact, back then I was too "antsy" to sit and read a book. Now that's all I do is read.

I think my teacher at National Jewish wrote on my report card once that "Rick would be a much better student if only he would apply himself." Ironically, on my 5th grade report card (I have it right here by my side) Mr. Kaap wrote, "Rick is a very intelligent young man. If he would give a modicum of effort he would be able to get much better grades."

I can't remember my high school GPA, but I think it was very average: like 2.5 or something like that. That might even be high. My first two years of college my GPA was about the same. It's not that I wasn't smart, it was more that I never applied myself. Some tests in high school and college I never studied for and managed to get a "C" grade or better.

Then around my third year of college something clicked, and I stopped dinking around with my life. I started reading books galore (I never read one book in high school. I fudged all my book reports. Lazy?). I studied emphatically and hard. My grades shot up. Yet I still graduated with a below 3.0 GPA because I already blew it my 1st 2 years of college.

Now, so I earned a bachelor's degree, but what good did it do me at that time. I never got a job, perhaps because I never applied myself. My effort was lacking. I chose a degree in journalism and advertising that didn't suit me (however, even right now I'm using those skills).

By the time I was 25 years old my effort caught up with my intelligence. I suppose if I were to see that psychologist again she would note that I "matured late." Many women would probably say, "typical guy."

Well, for whatever reason, I quit taking for granted that I would succeed, and I studied my ass off during the RT program. I studied with my low IQ. There was one girl named Vika in our class I competed for top grade. She never studied. I bet her IQ was 150 or above. Yet, she did not succeed. She did not succeed, I would guess, due to lack of effort.

My friends continued telling me I was smart. I knew that I was not naturally smart like Vika, that I became smart through hard work and effort. I literally studied my butt off.

I graduated tops of my RT class. There were many times while progressing through the program people would ask me, "How do you do it? How do you get such good grades?" I would always say, "I study every chance I get. I never take for granted I'm going to pass a test, even when I know I probably know it all."

Even to this day I'm constantly reading and trying to improve my knowledge base. I think that is a skill my grandma tried to instill in my when I was a kid, yet I didn't apply the effort. I was interested in learning, always have been, but effort was lacking.

So now I'm an RT, and I have to take a class to be an neonatal resuscitation class, and the person teaching me how to do this says to me, "Your boss tells me you are very intelligent." I smiled. My ego went up a notch. I hear this a lot from my co-workers. Sometimes people read my writings here and acknowledge to me how smart they think I am.

Yet, now you know the rest of the story: I am not smart at all. I am no smarter than the average Joe on the street. The only difference between me and any of them is that I apply myself. I go the extra step, and take the extra effort. I go out of my way and read even the most boring text to improve my knowledge base.

Now, here's a thought I've been pondering. Perhaps I'll have to wait another 19 years to get the answer to this, but I am wondering: Does IQ grow as you age. I understand that people get smarter, but can you actually improve upon your IQ score. I've been told the answer is no, that whatever you are born with you have to live with. But I'm just curious.

I think the answer is no: that IQ stays the same forever. That the reason some of us do better as we age is more so because we mature and learn to apply ourselves better. Those who don't mature (including those with high IQs) are left holding down the less satisfying jobs.

I don't consider myself successful by any means. I think I have a decent job. I think I have an easy job. It's challenging at times, although it's not completely satisfying because doctors don't give me the autonomy to really use my skills and knowledge. Sometimes I think I keep studying for no reason.

Then again, on occasion, a dire situation falls before me when my wisdom comes in handy. Yet this doesn't happen often enough in my line of work (or at least where I work). I think my RT satisfaction would be greater if I worked for a larger hospital with a trauma center and RT protocols. Yet, as I talk to RTs who work at these hospitals, they aren't completely satisfied either.

So, in this regard, I suppose my effort is lacking. If I really, really wanted to be satisfied, to succeed on a grand scale, to reach my full potential, I would be more competitive and would move to a bigger city, go back to school, and get a degree in something where I could use my brain a little more --- perhaps as a teacher.

But, then again, I already have 7 years of school in. I have kids, and -- as my wife says, "You are not going back to school." And that brings me full circle and to my point. That is why I started blogging. I wanted to share what wisdom I acquire through my readings and experience I feel I'm never able to use while working.

It's a shame that doctors and nurses don't come to us RTs more often to ask for our opinions, because we are all intelligent people with loads of wisdom to share. In the ideal world, we would have the protocols we want, and the opportunity to find the success and happiness we yearn for the day we enter the doors of that first college class.

Yet unlike we surmise as we start college, success does not come down to how smart you are, it comes down to how much effort you put forth.

We'll consider this RT Cave Rule #37: If you want to succeed in life you have to supply the effort, which may involve going out of your way or doing things you don't necessarily want to do. Thus, success is not determined by IQ, but through effort.


Related posts: IQ doesn't equal success: focus on your EQ


Anonymous said...

Really interesting Rick. I just went and got tested this Winter for a LD because It's always taken me way longer to study than anyone I know. Yet I have two masters degrees. When I was a kid they almost held me back in kindergarten, but I tested in the excellent to exceptional range for IQ, so they let me go to first grade and chalked it up to maturity. So it turns out I have a processing disorder, and my reading IS slower. Like I could have gotten accomocations. Huh. But the funny part was my IQ this time was in the average range. So they kept telling me I have very strong determination. I also was in the middle of an asthma attack, on pred., and with a migraine when I took the tests. So who knows?

But I am just about to start an hospital residency program as a hospital chaplain (am also a social worker) for just the reasons you described of liking to use my brain more often. Love social work but certain parts can be VERY repetitive.


Danielle said...

There's no doubt about it, you're one hard-working RT.

About IQ stability, it apparently is quite conserved from childhood through to adulthood with very little variation. But IQ tests on very young children (like toddlers) aren't really predictive. That's what they teach us in child psych anyway.

I agree with what you said about motivation and work 100%