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Running a Smart Race

If you Google “who is the smartest person in the world”, you’ll get an answer based on an IQ test. Christopher Langan in 1999 was estimated to have an IQ of 195-210. You would assume a man with this intellect could have helped develop the Mars Pathfinder in 1997 or something else to benefit mankind. This would be incorrect because Christopher enjoys his days on a horse ranch in Missouri which he owns and operates.

Google “the dumbest person in the world” and the answers get more subjective. You might see someone from the bottom third of your high school class or Donald Trump, no exact answers. Personally, I’ve seen a few frat bros on Instagram battle for the title by chugging Grey Goose and jumping off a roof through a table. Christopher probably wouldn’t be convinced to participate in either of these activities. Really, anyone with half a brain wouldn’t participate in these activities. I’m not here to judge though, those frat bros might go to class half the time and show up to an exam in an arm sling and ace it.

So, what am I trying to convey? Should intelligence be based on a test? Should stupidity be based on one action? Perhaps, or maybe there is more to it.

What would you do if you had Christopher’s brain and at 12 years old you already knew more than any of your teachers? At 12 years old I hadn’t had a critical thought, life was full of mystery, and the only thing I wanted to figure out was how to improve my K/D (kill death ratio) on MW2 (Modern Warfare 2). Maybe if I had Christopher’s brain, I would have been teaching myself astrophysics and Greek mythology. But I think that wouldn’t be the case for me and many of you.

Just like you see naturally gifted athletes dominate high school sports without training, people who score well on IQ tests dominate high school tests without studying. But what happens when that athlete reaches a certain level where everyone is just as naturally gifted, if not more, gifted than them. They either develop a work ethic and train to get better or fade away into high school sports history. Same goes for the kid who aced all their high school exams without studying, they get to a certain level where natural gifts aren’t good enough and they need better studying habits to succeed.

Imagine life like a race, except instead of a track we are in a 100-acre field, there are infinite finish lines, and everyone starts in different places. So essentially there is just a field full of people randomly spaced out with multiple finish lines at varying distances. The starter fires the gun, and everyone moves in different directions at different speeds. How do you know who is winning or losing? And how do you know when the race is over? You don’t. A finish line is like a goal in life, you can take 25 years to cross it or 25 minutes depending on the goal. It might take you 4 years to cross a finish line where it would have taken Christopher 1 year to cross, but if Christopher never runs in that direction then he will never achieve that goal. There are infinite finish lines in life and the only way to cross none of them is to stand still. Regardless of what a test says, the only thing preventing you from crossing that line is being stagnant.

Next time you question if you’re smart enough, just remember Kim Kardashian is going to be a lawyer. Anything is possible.

-Richard B. Long

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