What’s Your IQ’s IQ?


A man walks into a room full of strangers. He picks up the newspaper on the table in front of him and reads the weather report, aloud. He then exits the room. The strangers are then asked to guess the random man’s IQ. Huh? How the hell should I know?

It turns out that the strangers were 66% more accurate at guessing the man’s IQ than the man was guessing his own IQ. How is this possible? The group of people in the audience did not know the man from Adam, nor were they proteges of the Oracle of Delphi. The issue is not with the observers, the issue is with the man who read the report; he (and we all) are terrible self-evaluators.

We constantly think more highly of ourselves than is actually true. This phenomenon is called a positive illusion. It helps us sleep at night and it helps convince us that the other person is always in the wrong/crazy. It helps us tell our friends, “Can you believe so-and-so said xyz to me?! She’s crazy!” Rest assured, so-and-so is telling her friends her own version of xyz about us.

This is key as to why a group dynamic is needed when chasing our own goals. You know as well as I do that when we fall short of our internal goals it is due to many reasons, none of which had to do with our own shortcomings (of course), but instead were all because of something else that got in our way (work, sleep, someone not returning our email, people not willing to help). Rarely, if ever, do we look ourselves in the mirror and say, “I didn’t reach that goal because I didn’t work hard enough for it/spend enough time on it.”

Making a commitment to a group strips our ability to use our positive illusions as a reason for falling short. Members of the group will be your reality check and you, theirs. Our body already filters things for how it wants to see it. You create the most comfortable view of anything. You’ve worked as hard as you can. You need a rest. You’re happy. You’ve reached most of your goals. You’re living the life you dreamed of, right?…. Right?

Be wary of the person in the mirror. While he/she will be the host of your confidence in the abilities you need to conquer your goals, he/she is also the most enigmatic enabler you’ll ever come across when you don’t.

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