Where are you intelligent?

Pardon the following rant. Here I go overanalyzing about how to start this post and it is sending me in circles. The plan again here is to be imperfect. I heard a great mantra that says to “write for the trashbin,” which to me means to be free in my thoughts and let it ooze out of me. Writing posts are difficult for me at this stage, as I am pretty novice with little experience under my belt, but once I crank them out and post them, there is an overwhelming amount of energy that pulses through me after. Even though I find it very challenging, I am covering topics that really make me feel alive and writing is one avenue that I can express my passion about the broad area of personal development. Also, the more I keep at it, the easier it will get for me. I’ve already spent 45 minutes on this post up to this point, writing and then deleting things out because it was jumping everywhere. Gavin Gavin Gavin.

...so stop trying.

…so stop trying.

Anyway, I wanted to use this space to write a little bit about intelligence. I am currently reading Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, and he writes about intelligence being very diverse, not purely of the kind we were based on at school. I don’t know about you, but I was not a strong math student at all, nor would any of my English teachers say anything special about my reports about Shakespeare or whatever else I felt obliged to read and write about at the time for the sake of getting a decent grade in English. But honestly, how much trigonometry am I really using in my life on a regular basis? None. How much has reading and writing about Shakespeare really influenced my life? Not much because I can’t remember much of his works, nor did it interest me at the time. I’m confident that I will come to read some of Shakespeare’s masterpieces again, but I am in no rush at the moment. But, I also knew that I didn’t want to be a Math or English teacher.

Academic career filled with bubbles

Academic career filled with bubbles

Back to the point. In my opinion, a lot of what I generally learned in school was just fluff that was supposed to expand my horizons, but I felt like I spent so much time bubbling answers throughout my entire academic career that I didn’t take the time to understand what I was doing it for or what I wanted to pursue in life.


Formal schooling kept me in this bubble of working to get a good score and if I didn’t get a good score, it would cripple my self-esteem and I would tell myself that I am not smart enough. This was particularly painful when I received my SAT scores and found out that I fell in the 1600 range. I don’t remember the exact score, but I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. Now, it’s like “Well, not good enough for what?”

Sir Ken Robinson asks a great question in his book. But I have often asked myself a slightly different question and the question itself is not too promising:

Are you intelligent?

Does anyone see the flaw in this question? It can easily be answered with a “yes” or “no.” If someone were to say “no,” which I have before, I can’t speak for others but it has contributed to a lack of self-esteem and I undergo feelings of not being good enough as I mentioned previously regarding my SAT score. Intelligence is far too vast to be grouped together in this much too simplistic question. A lot of the intelligence in tests like the SAT or IQ test is determined by cut-and-dried answers. There is little room for creativity and Sir Ken Robinson contends that creativity is extremely crucial in intelligence, but unfortunately the current educational systems in place largely hinder our use of creativity. As he puts it,

“We are educating people out of their creative capacities.”

I agree with Sir Ken Robinson that creativity and intelligence are not separate entities. Rather, they are all a part of the same process. You can watch his famous TEDTalk on school and creativity here.

Now, I am not saying that school is a terrible thing and that I wish I never went to school. Getting an education is very important to me and has benefited me in countless ways. I wouldn’t have the privilege of living in Japan with the company I am with right now unless I had a college degree. I wouldn’t have been able to previously work at Behavior Frontiers with such amazing children and their families for 2.5 years if it weren’t for my bachelor’s in Psychology and Social Behavior.

However, I am saying that formal education doesn’t have all the answers, so identifying ourselves based on say, our performance during formal education – which is very narrow in scope – is very misleading because our intelligences stretch beyond what is emphasized. I am using school performance here because I fought with not feeling smart enough for a long time based on test scores, so this is a personal matter that I feel others can relate to. There were times when I felt incompetent because I didn’t get the grade I wanted. Delving into this is an old story that is no longer relevant unless I continue to delve in it and allow it to manifest over and over again. By repeating this outdated story, I am causing unwanted pain. Here, I imagine Shakespeare would say:

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once."

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

I suppose I do have much to learn from him. Perhaps I should pick up Julius Caesar after I complete Sir Ken Robinson’s book. This goes to show that education definitely  provides value, but I am digressing.

So, saying you are not intelligent because of how you performed in school is absurd and stems from a flawed question.

Wear your zest. Same sleeves everyday.

Wear your zest. Same sleeves everyday.

Yet, after all of those years so focused on bubbles, so stuck in a bubble, I’ve had time to try and figure out what to make of myself in this short and beautiful life. All I know is that I am driven to create more happiness, inspiration, enthusiasm, emotional stability, love, purpose, and gratefulness in others’ lives while I continue to make mistakes and garner more strength. In a nutshell, I am here to continually become an even greater lifenthuziast over time and bring out the undeniable lifenthuziast in others. This blog is just the beginning. I cannot recall any class in school talking about following one’s happiness and harnessing habits to lead more enriching lives. I am here to do just that.

Everyone has an area or areas that they are naturally good at, or an area that they really enjoy and can get much better at because it’s enjoyable – even if it’s not highly valued in formal education.

So, a more specific and effective question is:

How are you intelligent?

There are a number of areas that I excel in, areas that the SAT or a grade in high school or college couldn’t track. These areas include:

  • Creating strong connections with people from various backgrounds and fostering a comfortable environment for them to openly share their vulnerabilities.
  • Quickly adapting to situations, generating high levels of enthusiasm and positivity amidst challenges and transmitting my high energy onto others around me.
  • Effectively articulating my thoughts and asking quality questions that dig deeper into the heart of matter, while offering empowering perspectives that build up confidence.

How about you? :

    How are you intelligent?


Gavin Masumiya

A lifenthuziast seeking new adventures and ways to expand my awareness, while transmitting positivity and vibrancy throughout the world.


  1. I think early on, education is used to exercise the fundamental levels of thought (i.e. evaluate, analyze, comprehend) while establishing a work ethic or a level of commitment to a goal. Thereafter, the measure of “intelligence” gets a bit tricky. I’ve met plenty of people that are book smart but…lack in other aspects.

    • Justin Wong. Yes, you make great points. I also think that early education is critical in such things like fostering analytical thinking, embedding a sense of structure and consistency towards a goal, and learning by repetition which is a key component of building mastery. As we move up the educational ladder, there becomes this line between merely taking in knowledge and applying it to get experiential feedback, the line is more polarized for some. I can regurgitate everything I’ve read, but what good is it to just think I know it? Formal schooling equips us with the knowledge, then it’s left up to us to decide where it’s applicable, to make mistakes, get feedback, and refine it. Education and training both have its purposes. Thank you for your two cents, bud.

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