You don’t have to be the brightest or the most original mind on the block . . . but what Washington’s life shows is the clarity of vision, the tenacity of purpose and character, and how much can be accomplished in life if you keep your sights on your ultimate goals.
In The Millionaire Mind, I cite the work of two scholars in the field of intelligence and human performance. Fred Fiedler and Thomas Link concluded:
Cognitive ability tests [standardized intelligence tests] have been notoriously poor predictors of leadership performance . . . . Relations between intelligence and leadership and managerial performance . . . accounting for less than 10% of the variance . . . . Even these low correlations are likely to be overestimates of the true relationship . . . . Leader intelligence under certain conditions correlates negatively with performance.
It is unfortunate that counselors rarely tell students that 90% of the variation in leadership is not explained by standardized intelligence measures. How many kids gave up on themselves early in life because they did poorly in school or ranked low on the SAT totem pole? Perhaps they should have been told:
You still have a chance. You may have to work harder, but you may also have the ability to lead other people.
One of the most interesting millionaires that I ever interviewed never excelled in school or on any standardized test. During high school, his parents in frustration asked for a consultation with a seasoned guidance counselor. He told them, “Don’t worry about your son; he is a natural born leader. What he has cannot be measured.” The counselor was correct in his assessment of the young man who today is an extraordinarily successful adult.
George Washington like most successful people took responsibility for being a leader at an early age. It is important to encourage young people to look for opportunities to lead and not follow.