Confidence Is King


What do James Wood, Geena Davis and Nolan Gould (the Dunphy Kid from Modern Family) have in common?

  • They are all members of an almost secret society of eggheads known as MENSA.
  • They stand on shaky ground, almost quicksand like soil, concerning their careers.

Each can solve a Rubik’s Cube in a blink of an eye, yet somehow, Howard Stern – with his 99 IQ – is remembered with greater respect and esteem.

These three, like hundred more, are prime examples of the fact that a high IQ doesn’t necessarily equal success. They are test subjects, that prove that a few more neurons don’t make a lick of difference out in the real world.

The given fact that jackanapes and jesters, who have the intellectual sparring abilities of anvils, are the real mover and shakers of reality is a long ago discovered certainty. The lead dancers are mostly ninnies who can’t properly tie a shoelace yet the somehow garner a meet and greet with the Dalai Lama. Many are individuals who trample on the very notion of intelligence, sound judgment and good sense – and suddenly find themselves ordering their newly acquired staff to wipe down the Oval Office windows.  It is a world of nincompoops playing paddy cake with our retirement funds and lame-duck pudding brains giving Nobel Laureates advice.

The reason is rather simple and succinct, and Captain Tony of Key West almost managed to put his finger on the pulse of that riddle ages ago:

All you need in this life is a tremendous sex drive and a great ego, brains don’t mean shit.

I say almost, because lately the tremendous sex drive bit has only brought about an onset of lawsuits and harassment claims; the age of Mad Men a thing of the past.

The smartest person in the room, somehow overshadowed, and perhaps deep in the payroll, plays second fiddle to a great big lummox, wearing a beer-can helmet.

This is a sad fact most of us face whenever we see a Kardashian on the television.

In a series of experiments conducted at Goldsmith University in London, a team of wise scientists went and proved what any teen in high school knows to be law:

Children with high confidence and a pair of big ones received the best marks at school regardless of their intellectual circumstances.

Allure, pizzazz, the ability to believe in oneself and a glaring fog of callousness towards that snappy dunce cap the teacher had embroidered with your name, has more pull at the end of the day than anything else.

“There has been a very, very big lobby within educational psychology against the notion of IQ,” notes Chamorro-Premuzic.

And part of this lobby has been based on the idea that self-perceptions matter more than actual ability.

A list of factors constantly hampers all  the momentum of the geniuses in the group to actually get to the finish line first.

Forward projection, thinking a few steps ahead, render the smarty-pants into a fit of inefficient catatonia. What might be hailed as a cherished and coveted ability in chess, is nothing short of debilitating in real life.

Plus, Intellectual Coefficient (IQ) isn’t the whole shebang. Our mind a muddled pool of jibber-jabber. A series of data inputs, ingrained within us that somehow go to town on our general matrix. One smidgen of sand, in any category, determines the way we act or function with the outside world. Behind every letter of the alphabet there is a Q besides it. EQ, Emotional; MQ, Moral; SQ Sexual; GQ Gentlemen’s Quarterly… An Inside Out, army of Jungian Archetypes fetched out of David Lynch’s newest kaleidoscope storyboard or a shrink’s boudoir.

All these types of intellects fundamentally drive us towards or away from success. The right measure and balance equals a respectful, tepid, asshole. One pinch in any of the Q columns, and you suddenly shift into the epic prolapsing category.

With me so far?

If you managed to grasp that load of nonsense, here’s a lolly. Feel proud that your tightrope walk with bankruptcy and your Kama Sutra escapades with student loans were not in vain. Now, if you, on the hand are in the midst of testing the elastic properties of your own drool, then go play Marco Polo in the middle of traffic. Rescue us from the possibility of your presidency.

IQ might render us sterile when trying to accomplish a task. Confidence is the proverbial rocket sparking a light in our ass.

This is huge a finding. It may seem the sort of thing that doesn’t move planets, but in hindsight and on further inspection, it might very well dictate policy around the world.

He’s not the best man for the job, he’s practically illiterate, but, man, does he make it look easy.

Everyone has a friend, top of his class, valedictorian, who can solve complex equations while doing a Sudoku puzzle, who can’t seem to get his shit together. The one who never amounts to anything and is a constant disappointment.
“You have so much potential…”
Then, on the other side of the tracks, you have another buddy who flies by the seat of his pants, who goes headlong into fire half naked with a towel wrapped around his head, who believes that being ill-prepared is just dandy… Who, for all logical reason should be pushing daisies, but somehow not only lands on his feet but manages to rake up victory after victory. It’s not luck, or serendipity, or irony, it’s confidence.

Confidence is strength and it will allow you to make the tough or unpopular choice when necessary. It is the sort of factor that, psychologists will tell you, makes stubborn monkeys out of all of us. And, interestingly enough, it is just this attitude that ultimately separates the herd.

Confidence culls the losers from the winners.

Confidence defies the norms you have been thought.

  • It allows you to double down, particularly when you’re ahead.
  • It permits you to sell an idea as a reality.
  • It bypasses your genetic and intellectual limitations and makes you bulletproof.
  • It allows you to accept help when needed. Whereas the scholarly arrogance and those certain on their brainy superiority may be blind to the tools others bring to the table.

Confidence is what most companies, conglomerates, employers and even sexual partners search for.

Doing something with aplomb, panache and style, is far more important than doing it good. Confidence enabling intelligence or at least the idea of it, to flourish is what truly matters.

Like Captain Tony said “Brains don’t mean shit.”

You may need your fingers to do basic math, but at the end of the day your smile, your charm and your can-do attitude beats that little handicap – raw.

By the way, did I mention that Captain Tony was a brigand, with a dwindling education, the vernacular of a salty sea dog, and the IQ of a snail?


Well, he also happened to have fooled the Mob, been best friends with Hemingway, been fundamental in Florida’s proliferation, owned a bar, had more honeys and exes than Keith Richards and actually became mayor of Key West.

Yup, confidence and the not giving a scrap of crap what anybody else thinks – that is the winning ticket.

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