Why Smart People ‘Underachieve’ And How They Can Fix That

Have you ever come across those really smart people, who are capable of achieving high and yet all they seem to produce are inadequate results? Many of us have! On Reddit i came across a question asking the readers (in this case, the “underachieving”smart people) how they overcame that stage and what they did to become successful and happy in their work. From the responses,  it’s clear how real and frustrating this problem can be and how it affects people their private and business and career lives.  So how can you as a leader, employee or in your private life fix that?

On Marie Forleo TV, Dr Edward Hallowell, MD,  a psychiatrist, director of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Sudbury, Massachusetts and Best selling New York Times author and world-renowned ADHD expert, shares information as to why this happens to smart people and gives the following FIVE tips on  how they can overcome this problem.

1)  Define Clear and Specific Goals

It is common for people to want to do so much because they have the ability to do so. However, dealing with more input than you possibly can, usually lead to loss of focus on your goals and it’s difficult to define what exactly needs to be done.  In order to stay focused, it is important to define what you really want to do and aim at a maximum of 3 goals for short term, medium, long term and life time. This is an important exercise because it forces you to prioritize.

 2) Avoid Screen Sucking

With many people totally addicted to the internet or technology it’s important to be in control of your digital life as was discussed in a previous post. Dr. Hallowell emphasises on the importance of setting a limited amount of time for your digital activities in order to avoid losing focus.

3) “Let me get back to you on that” -Default Response

It’s all about the kind of the response we give to others. Sometimes we’re too generous and we feel the pressure to please people and try not to hurt their feelings. We therefore end up saying ‘YES’ to everything even when we should actually be saying ‘NO’ or simply just saying “let me think about that.” Practising to say this helps to avoid over commitment.

4) Never worry Alone

You know that saying- ‘A shared problem is a problem solved’?- This can be practical if you speak to someone who can help you solve your problems. In today’s world, where everything thing is practically happening ‘virtually’, it’s very easy to become lonely and completely isolated. Even in our business and career lives, we all need people to connect with and share information to help us get rid the burden.  Of course, not all people are invited to worry with us in our private or business lives. Therefore it is important choose wisely whom you share information in order to solve that particular problem.

5) Cultivate Lilies and get rid of Leeches

According to Dr. Hallowell, Lilies in this case are people or projects that are worth it.  Investing your time and energy on lilies is possible if you get rid of leeches (Leeches here are projects and people that aren’t worth your time)

Ps. on the show, Dr. Hallowell adds that “ Too many worthwhile Projects crowd out each other’s growth and none of them flourish

On a separate article on Hbr.org  , Dr. Edward Hallowell, MD explains in depth ‘Why Smart People Underperform’ and how Corporate Leaders and employees can deal with Attention Deficit Trait, (or ADT) which we all know is now epidemic in organizations.

Here’s the interesting episode on Marie Forleo TV

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