By John Sonmez June 9, 2016

Does It Matter If People Are Smarter Than You?

Have you ever felt that? You're in a room, and you feel like other people are smarter than you. You begin to feel like shit like you'll never accomplish anything. Sounds familiar huh? In today's video, I received a question from a student asking me about this thing. Does it matter if people are smarter than you?

Will these people have a much better life than you have right now? How should you overcome this feeling of people being smarter than you? Should you even bother about this? Watch this video and find out!

Transcript Of The Video:

John Sonmez: 

Hey, what's up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I get a lot of questions I guess from high school students at least recently. “Hey John, I’m a student in high school. I’m mostly a B – B+ student but even when I try my hardest in school I remain a B+ student and never seem to be able to shift to a straight A student. I’m not trying to come off as lazy. I take as many challenging classes as I can to learn new things and don’t use the internet too much on weekdays because I do lots of homework.” Okay, cool. “I’m wondering if when you were nearing the end of high school you were a straight A student/valedictorian or you were like me? Do you think the work ethic and overall intelligence you possess in your early year defines how you do later in life without factoring in luck? I’m mostly curious about if in school you were ever worried about how lots of people seem to be smarter than you and doing better in equally hard classes. Do you think you’ve gone further in life than those people even though some of them may have been smarter? I hope you make a video about this. If you can, I’d love to hear your take on this thing. Shawn.”

So Shawn, a bunch of questions here. I’m going to try to answer as many of them as possible. I think this is just a really good topic to talk about. To start off, was I a straight A valedictorian student? So, when I started off high school I was actually more of a C student. Then I think probably like my sophomore or junior year I started to take things more seriously and coincidentally this was the time when I had this shift. I’ll do another video on this, but I’ll briefly talk about it.

Essentially I woke up one morning and decided that I could be whoever I wanted to be and so I’m just going to start pretending to be that person and I did. I joined sports and became athletic. I wasn’t athletic before. I stopped being shy. All these transformations happened and I decided that I was going to get good grades because I could, so I did. That all happened around that time.

My junior and senior years I did all AP courses pretty much and got pretty close to straight As. I had a couple of Bs or something like that but a lot of my school years before high school even I was getting Cs and Bs and doing average or just barely above average. It wasn’t like one or the other. I was never that full all the way straight A student the whole time.

The reason why I’m saying that is because I don’t think that it really matters. You’re asking this question like do you think that it matters if there’s people that seem a lot smarter than you and do I think that how you did at school determines how you deal with the rest of your life. Well you can look at a lot of successful people that didn’t do well in school, right? I mean we all hear about how Einstein was bad at math. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he obviously wasn’t a valedictorian student, right? He wasn’t so good. You take Bill Gates. I think he didn’t do too well. He didn’t go to college. Dell, Michael Dell, he also didn’t go to college and didn’t complete his degree. I don’t think he did so well in school. There’s a lot of drop outs that ended up becoming really, really successful and doing really well.

Don’t let this preconceived idea—first of all, let’s back up a little and talk about what school is. School is a fantasy land. It’s a little test lab that doesn’t exist in your reality. You’re forced to go and participate in social activities and be tested with a group of people that you haven’t chosen to associate with. It’s really just an experiment. It’s not reality. The grades that you get there don’t reflect you. They reflect the system. You’re being trained for a specific purpose. That is not—you should not evaluate yourself based on that, right?

I know plenty of people, I mean, when I was in school there were plenty of people that seemed a lot smarter than me that were getting much better grades than me and I look at my Facebook now and they’re like—they’re working at a help desk. They’re doing customer support or something. Not that that’s such a bad job, it’s just that hey, it’s been 20 years since high school I would think that maybe you should be a rocket scientist by now because it seemed like you were going to be a rocket scientist in school and you made everyone else feel bad because you were so smart. I’m like, “Wow, look what I’ve done. I’ve been working so hard and I’ve far exceeded all these people that I thought were smarter than me at the time.”

It’s not even—it doesn’t even matter if someone is so much smarter than you. Raw intelligence doesn’t matter. It’s more of—you’ve got to be a certain amount of smart and you’ve got to have the perseverance and commitment and dedication. There are so many other attributes that are required. There’s also non-book smart, they’re street smarts the whole social intelligence and the things like that that really factor in.

My whole message to you is basically don’t worry about this. Don’t sweat it out. Obviously do a good job. If you do a good job in school that’s going to be good for you. That’s going to help you—there’s no reason to not do a good job, but at the same time, don’t consider any of this as a reflection of your future. Every day when you wake up, you decide what your future is. You get to choose what that is and it’s unwritten. You don’t want to have these barriers that hold you back that make you think that you’re lesser just because someone’s greater. I did a video on this but I’ll keep pointing to this which is compare yourself to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people because you want to just improve yourself every day. If you are working on improving yourself every day, I guarantee you’re going to get far beyond people that are constantly comparing themselves to others and then trying to adapt. Their primary motive of—primary way that they’re going to make themselves feel better is to not see reality truly, to be able to—to put down someone else in order to make themselves seem better.

Anyway, don’t worry about this. Just live your life. Do a good job. Sounds like you’re on the right path if you’re thinking about these things. Just go and do your thing and don’t let anyone stop you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not as smart or you’re not as good because that’s up to you to decide. Whatever you believe is going to be true, if you believe that you’re not good enough, if you believe these people are smarter than you and you believe that being a B+ student that’s all you are then that’s what you’ll be in life. But if you believe something more than that, if you believe that that school and those grades and those people can’t tell you who you are what your limit is you won’t have a limit.

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About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."