weeks ago I received a letter from a subscriber,
Adele, which included the following comments:
the past year youve outlined various
techniques on how to prosper, often requiring
certain arithmetical calculations. Youve
also recommended college courses that
can be taken for self-improvement.
I suppose these are good
ideas, but you should know that not
everyone is good at math, and some of
us didnt get very far in school.
Do you really have to be a genius to become
financially independent? What if youre
just ordinary? By just following the systems
you outline, can you really prosper?
thanks to you, Adele, for raising a subject
to which I may not have paid enough attention.
Admittedly, I sometimes get carried away
with a particular financial
strategy while ignoring how it may be
received by some persons. Although I try
to avoid burying my audience in intricate
details, I do resort to numerical analyses
from time to time. If Ive left anyone
puzzled or frustrated, I can only apologize.
Ill try to keep things in proper
that said, I now want to respond to your
very penetrating question:
Do you really have to be a genius
to become financially
independent? Perhaps its
time that we consider exactly what role
plays in achieving
Although the modern public school establishment
may contend otherwise, we cannot all be
at the top of the class.
must be: If you diligently pursue the
approaches I outline in my writings, but
possess no more than average brain power,
what are your chances? As were all
aware, its common to equate intelligence
with financial success, with one of the
more overused put-downs being the perennial
inquiry: "If you're so smart, how
come you're not rich?"
fact is, however, that affluence is not
confined to the brilliant, nor are the
brightest people necessarily the most
prosperous. As a case in point, many members
of the international high-IQ organization,
Mensa, are of modest means. This is not
meant as an endorsement of stupidity,
for most certainly dimwittedness does
little to promote wealth accumulation.
Nonetheless, high intelligence is not
the answer either, and Robert Heller in
his 1974 book The Common Millionaire stressed
that, down through the ages, a lot of
untalented people managed to make a million
the question remains: Exactly what qualities
are most helpful in acquiring and retaining
wealth, and where does intelligence fit
into the equation? From my observations
it appears that the necessary ingredients
include habits of thrift and moderation,
the diligent pursuance of a plan of action,
and just plain good luck.
the second of these three factors requires
some acumen, which obviously works to
eliminate the truly inept from the game.
But on the whole it is the meld of character
traits that seems to determine the outcome.
My belief is that of these characteristics,
"diligence" is by far the most
important. If this is the case, then high
intelligence conceivably acts as a bar
to financial prosperity.
success in scientific endeavors, which
requires profound skills
often complex problems,
the continued application demanded in
wealth accumulation is one that often
requires little but a repetition of procedures,
with no continual input of brainpower
needed. Quite likely a mind capable of
absorbing and processing new and stimulating
information finds the demands involved
in money-making a monotonous exercise
offering little satisfaction except for
the obvious benefits of having wealth.
comparing brains versus achievement, heres
another thought for you. Perhaps the link
between intelligence and financial success
is not the direct correlation weve
been led to believe. It might be that
beyond some level, increased intellect
is actually a deterrent in the wealth-generating
process. As with any theory, no rationale
is convincing without at least one testimonial
to make the argument.
offer as a prime example a man who in
the early 1990s achieved national prominence
as a symbol of financial achievement:
self-made multi-billionaire and presidential
contender H. Ross Perot. Theres
no denying that Mr. Perot displays some
remarkable traits, foremost among them
driving energy and a compelling self-confidence.
I contend that its these characteristics
which account for his spectacular success.
On the matter of his intellectual brilliance,
as evidenced by performance in a college
classroom, you might note that, as a graduate
of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1953,
his final years record in purely
academic subjects would have placed him
in the bottom ten percent of his class.
me conclude by proposing that the true
relationship between mental capacity and
financial success is most accurately reflected
by a bell-shaped curve showing that success
in wealth accumulation peaks at an IQ
of about 115, dropping off at both higher
and lower values. If this is reasonably
accurate, then we of questionable intellect
may take heart; there surely is a fortune
waiting for us.
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