Intelligence: The Goldilocks Zone

Posted 2 years, 7 months ago | Originally written on 2 Dec 2021

It is possible to be too intelligent for your own good. When one is too intelligent they tend to be deployed where others can make the best use of them. This typically means that they will end up working in isolation on things that others are incapable of working on because of their sheer brilliance. However, despite their intelligence, they fail to realise how isolating their intelligence will make them perhaps because of the rewards they receive for their intelligence.

On the other hand, having too low an intelligence means that you will not be able to keep up. Again, this leads to isolation to perform menial tasks but clearly for a different reason. Unfortunately, society does not reward low intelligence so there is little glory in this.

Therefore, there is a Goldilocks zone where intelligence is increasingly appreciated outside of which it becomes a handicap on the subject.

From my observation, the one trait that tends to get sacrificed at the higher echelons of intelligence is empathy: the ability to take on the perspectives of consumers of your intelligence. Outside the Goldilocks zone, highly intelligent individuals are almost completely devoid of empathy to their detriment. This is why they need to be managed in order for their intellect to be useful. It’s a major blind spot they bear that no amount of explaining can make them understand. While they can solve mind bending complexity they lack the basic judgement required to make it digestible for others of lower intelligence. High intelligence inside the Goldilocks zone is supremely defined by this feature. In fact, I would argue that genius lies only within the Goldilocks zone, not outside, for this very reason. Genius is not just about advanced reasoning but also being able to lay breadcrumbs for others to discover the fruits of advanced reasoning. Genius is high intelligence with empathy.

I once knew an individual who was too intelligence for his own good. He was capable of working at worp speed but had no clue the damage he caused. His bosses were just glad he delivered way before schedule so that they could show off his work. Inevitably, he was tied to the work in such an unfortunate way that he could never truly rest. Fortunately for him, his high intelligence came in handy but it hid from him the opportunities that he will have enjoyed to work on other things.