Are Intelligence and Humility Inversely Proportional?
You may be gifted, but you cannot accurately measure the intelligence of those around you. Despite all too common feelings of superiority, (reinforced by lifetimes of praise, high test scores, and advanced placement classes), we have no true means to assess or compare our intelligence to those around us. Let me illustrate my point:
Certainly, you can judge a person by their grades, classload, accomplishments, exam scores, and daily vocabulary. But how much of the picture are you really getting before you write them off as "inferior?"
For instance, the intelligent do not flaunt their vocabulary, for it is impractical. The insecure do. When a word is not common or widely understood, it is not effective to use it, so an effective communicator will chose a more appropriate phrase. They may even use a less advanced word when speaking to YOU, as they, like you, assume others are inferior. How would you know? Limited conversations prevent you from recognizing instances such as these. If your words are bigger, it may be that you have something to prove, are less appropriate to your audience, or that you're more inclined to an over the top or "ostentacious" presentation.
Another example? Certainly. The quickest problem solvers are not usually the ones to blurt out the answer, announcing their speed to others present. Someone who is secure in their intelligence does not need to raise a hand, volunteer a response, join a competition, or otherwise brag about their intellectual prowess to those around them, for it only breeds envy, attempts to cheat, academic leeches, and rivalry. How many people have solved problems BEFORE you, yet remained quiet, while you stole the spotlight moments later?
We are often aware of our own intelligence. We are complimented, praised, and rewarded to keep us motivated. But at what cost? Is it possible that the same superiority that keeps us motivated and self-aware also blinds us to the gifts of others? Being a top dog in a small kennel proves nothing. If you know none more intelligent than yourself, it is not a sign of intelligence at all, but of ignorance to the outside world.