The 80th-floor Genius: Steve Jobs’ Definition of High Intelligence
Intelligence is often thought of in terms of logic, thinking, and information processing. It’s this logical and rational side of ourselves.
However, intelligence isn’t just about having a logical mind. It’s about having a high level of intelligence combined with a rational brain.
Intelligence is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. It can help you get a career in almost any field and make it your specialty.
Intelligence, in essence, is your ability to think logically, understand abstract concepts, and learn quickly.
It’s also the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn when necessary. Highly intelligent people can learn quickly and retain information for a long time.
What’s more, they have an excellent memory, can think logically and can solve every problem in the best and most thoughtful way possible. The ability to learn and retain new information is the ultimate sign of high intelligence.
Peak intelligence occurs when a person’s mental abilities are at their highest, and they can produce the best results possible.
High intelligence is a skill, but it’s rare.
High intelligence makes you a better person because you will be able to see things from different perspectives and come up with more creative solutions to problems.
Want to maximize your genius potential?
Jeff Bezos says to improve your ability to change your mind when you find better knowledge. Elon Musk says, “It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree.”
Steve Jobs’ definition is also completely different.
His definition of “smart” is about increasing your experiences and making better connections from a different perspective when the time is right.
In this video, a speech to the Academy of Achievement June 1982, Jobs explains the signs of high intelligence:
“A lot of [what it means to be smart] is the ability to zoom out, like you’re in a city and you could look at the whole thing from the 80th floor down at the city. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B reading these stupid little maps, you could just see it in front of you. You can see the whole thing.”
Most people use the same lens when pondering ideas. If you examine things from a completely different perspective, what you will find will surprise you.
The 80th-floor intelligence is like improving your “bird’s eye view” skills. First, you have to learn how to learn deeper and broader to accumulate experience and better knowledge.
You can only make better connections if you already have the right knowledge. So to improve your intelligence, gather more insight from great sources, choose your knowledge sources wisely, learn from people more intelligent than you, and read books you are willing to reread repeatedly.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest,” Confucius once said.
Improving your intelligence is about stacking experience and applying lessons from good sources. You can only zoom out if you know what you are looking at. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
“You have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does, or else you’re gonna make the same connections and you won’t be innovative. […] You might want to think about going to Paris and being a poet for a few years. Or you might want to go to a third-world country — I’d highly advise that. Falling in love with two people at once. Walt Disney took LSD, do you know that?”
Great brains are open to multiple sources of knowledge. Think Leonardo da Vinci. He was a polymath and mastered dozens of topics.
“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else,” da Vinci once said.
Openness to wide and deep experiences outside your comfort zone will change your life. It will also improve your thinking lens.
Intellectual curiosity is key to peak intelligence. It’s also one of the best predictors of success. Curiosity is at the core of scientific discoveries.
Many of history’s great minds share this trait, from artists to scientists to inventors. Your ability to spot better life and career patterns, make more brilliant connections and predict good outcomes depend on your ability to pause, zoom out and visualize the bigger picture.
“Learning never exhausts the mind,” Leonardo da Vinci said. Do more for your mind — your best future self depends on it.
This article originally appeared in Medium.