When it comes to success, IQ isn't everything.
When I was a kid, I talked to myself all the time. The social pressure of middle and high school conditioned that habit out of me for a while, but it returned with a vengeance when I began to settle into motherhood. I like to joke that I talk to myself because I always listen, but it’s really because my thoughts are often tangled and unwieldy until I shape them into words. Much like the reason I write, I talk to myself to find out what I’m thinking.
I’ve always been a little worried that this is proof that I’m crazy, or at least a bit odd. But according to an article at HealthyWay, talking to yourself is actually proof of a high IQ.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes often carries on a conversation with himself, talking almost as fast as he solves cases. Sherlock, a brilliant (but fictional) detective, may be onto something. Studies show that talking to yourself could be a sign of advanced intelligence. Problem-solving out loud can help organize thoughts and actions. In addition, talking to yourself can help you focus and complete specific tasks faster.
As tempting as it is to compare my daily monologues to Sherlockian brilliance, they’re less focused on solving murders and more focused on making it through these piles of laundry. Not to mention the dishes, scattered toys, and disheveled bookshelves …
Lucky for me (again!), people with a high IQ are often messy and disorganized. A study at the University of Minnesota found that a clean environment inspires people to do what’s expected of them (kind of like the broken-window theory), but a messy environment encourages people to break free of convention and try new things.
Granted, bucking convention isn’t always a good thing, and creativity is of limited value when it comes to things like housekeeping. I’ve found that I function better when the house is neat but my desk is messy — the mess at the desk inspires creativity where it’s useful, and the order in the rest of the house helps me stay on track through the daily grind.
It’s important to remember that your intelligence quotient (IQ) isn’t everything when it comes to living life well, though. In fact, a high IQ can be a hindrance to success if you can’t harness your intelligence and apply it to the increasing complexity of life. According to the Harvard Business Review, our ability to manage complexity is actually dependent on three qualities: IQ, EQ (emotional quotient), and CQ (curiosity quotient).
EQ indicates our ability to navigate interpersonal relationships, while CQ indicates a thirst for knowledge and leads to a higher intellectual investment over time. Unlike IQ, both EQ and CQ can be developed. Also unlike IQ, having a higher EQ and CQ positively correlates with higher personal and professional success and satisfaction.
Luckily, developing your emotional and curiosity quotients don’t require being messy, talking to yourself, or cultivating any other odd behaviors associated with high IQ. You can improve your emotional intelligence by being proactive rather than reactive in personal relationships, and responding to failure with optimism rather than defeat. Your curiosity quotient is even easier to develop — just give yourself permission to ask questions and find the answers!
Above all, remember that having a high IQ doesn’t mean much in itself — even if you talk to yourself. No matter what your IQ, you’ll be happier and more successful if you invest your time and effort into developing your emotional intelligence and staying curious.