Technologies have found their way into every sphere of our lives, from household appliances to the space industry. Nowadays, no production can survive without computers and the relevant software application developments. In all countries around the world there is a great demand for intellectuals who can make any equipment with in-built software modules work like clockwork. Programmers spin the flywheel of the technocracy, endowing lifeless metal with intelligence. We are constantly working towards the development of science and technology, expecting it to make our lives more comfortable and make us happier.
This article is dedicated to programmers. How are they coping in the modern world? What effect does possessing a high degree of intelligence have on their success? Are they happier than others?
What society thinks about programmers
Programmers stand out from others and this is why attitudes towards them can be ambivalent. Some admire their abilities. Others place their business stakes on them – that is, they invest money in innovative solutions and scientific experiments hoping to amass great profits. And there are those who can see the other side of the coin: the disappointment, loneliness and existential fear of an intellectual genius. Ernest Hemingway once wrote about this: «Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know».
There really are a great many unappreciated geniuses who find themselves worn down by life. Too often they turn out to be unable to cope with its challenges. There are also many appreciated but lonely prodigies who remain isolated even at the height of their fame. It seems that the great writer was correct after all. Meanwhile, advanced states spend billions on brain training, attempting to raise the average IQ level and rear more geniuses. Let’s look at the conclusions made by the psychologists who have studied intellectually gifted people.
Ever since IQ tests have proved their efficiency, psychologists have had the chance to select intellectuals and work with them.
A notable mark was made in history by the famous «Termites» study conducted by American psychologist Lewis Terman. He selected 1,500 students from schools across California who had an IQ of 140 and higher, tracking how their lives progressed. It should be noted that 80 of the children had an IQ higher than 170 points. Many of the termites became famous and rich. Their average salary in the middle of the 20th century was twice that of the average white collar worker. Today that gap is even wider. Nevertheless, not all the members of the group matched up to Terman’s expectations. Many of these intelligent children went on to careers in «commonplace» professions, working for example as train drivers, policemen, or sailors. The psychologist came to the conclusion that there is no direct relation between intellect and success in life. Moreover, an outstanding mind did not guarantee personal happiness. The level of alcoholism, divorce and suicide within the group fell in line with the national average. Having started with flying colours, many termites finished in line with the other, otherwise perfectly undistinguished members of society. It should be noted that this has little to do with those who channeled their abilities in a productive direction from the start. As computer technologies are booming, intellectuals in our times often choose to become programmers, rarely falling through the cracks of society as they have a good job and are always in demand.
But a high degree of intellect without a «proper» philosophy does not guarantee a good life. This is the moral of many people’s life stories. At best, unharnessed intellect will not affect a person’s satisfaction with life; at worst it will become a hindrance en route to a harmonious existence. There are several reasons for this.
The burden of unfulfilled expectations
When a person has talent, a lot is expected of them. Such expectations from people around you become a heavy burden, imprinted in the person’s psyche for their entire life. Even those intellectuals who have attained certain results find it tough to be simply happy about what they have achieved and reap the fruits of their labour. They often fail to meet the expectations of their youth and that weighs down on them. Prodigies usually begin their journey with flying colours and have an absolutely radiant picture of their future life. But one can also enter bad patches, and should be mentally prepared for this.
A great mind begets great unrest
It should be said that intelligent people see the shortcomings of this world much more clearly. Many ordinary people never suffer from existential despair, but the intelligent among us more often think about the insecurity of the world and the foolishness of those around them. Unrest is a common state of mind. This is not to say that all clever people are philosophers without exception and that their worries are more profound. They often worry about down-to-earth situations and everyday problems. However, they tend to think about many things at the same time and weigh up such problems more often than others. If something bad happens, they keep thinking about it for longer.
Having conducted detailed research, the psychologist Alexander Penney made the supposition that the quality of anxiety is connected to verbal abilities. The more eloquent you are, the longer you consider the cause of an anxiety. This quality can help you to learn from your mistakes. Programmers can therefore be said to be better equipped to solve social problems.
Inability to be objective
If a person is very intelligent, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he can make wise decisions. More often than not he cannot manage to be both unbiased and objective. This phenomenon was studied by Keith Stanovich. When a person has an established worldview, he takes in information from the outside world selectively. He chooses only that information which confirms his views.
Intelligent people find it hard to block out their preconceptions, since they are well established and well-reasoned. It appears to be impossible to make truly rational decisions in such cases. This explains why in a world where intellect is so highly developed, so many stupid decisions are made. This applies to some programmers too. A crown on the head and an overweening ego are not the signs of wisdom. At the same time, the more developed one’s personality is, the more objective he can be.
Intelligence alone is not enough
Not all intellectuals can put themselves to good use. They may be at the top of their class in school and at university, but once they begin their adult lives it becomes clear that one must also be hardworking, possess willpower, be able to acknowledge one’s failures, and be purposeful and self-motivated. One has to be able to roll with the punches and resist giving up. Furthermore, there is always the question of sticking to a routine, which can’t be avoided. What one needs is character – one must have a personality. One has to be able to get on with people, to feel with one’s heart and see the beauty around. In short, there is a lot of work to be done. Only a harmoniously developed person can appreciate life to its full extent.
Intellect and entrepreneurship
Ichak Kalderon Adizes arrived at interesting conclusions concerning intellectuals. Initially he admired people of sharp mind and invested money in them. But he then realized that there is truth in the proverb: «Grade A students work for for grade B students who are bought by grade C students». Less educated people often become serious businesspeople where university geniuses fail as entrepreneurs. Why does this happen?
When a person knows too much, it is difficult for him to see the essence of things. Entrepreneurs are distinguished by common sense. As a rule, they are not highly educated, but they have a talent to see things that are of critical importance, while educated geniuses can’t single out the main thing from their wide scope of knowledge and thus end up making things more complicated.
A second reason is that when a person knows too much he is less inclined to risk. If you think or know a lot about something it is not likely that you will become deeply engrossed in a thought process. It is indispensable for an entrepreneur to be able to take intellectual risks. Nevertheless, this quality is a double-edged sword. In the long run it can lead to bankruptcy. That is why it is sensible for an entrepreneur to delegate the management of his business to a well-educated intellectual who will be able to handle it better, at a given time after he has set it up.
Thirdly, geniuses tend to focus on values while ignoring costs. They have become used to a situation where all the necessary conditions are created for them to exhibit their talent in their field. That is why they don’t have much of a business orientation: they can’t objectively estimate the relation of cost to value.
The fourth reason is that intellect hinders a person from using his innate intuition. An intelligent person will not trim his sails to the wind, but will rather insist on the soundness of his views to the very end. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, intuitively feel what is right or wrong at any given moment in time.
As for programmers, they quite often find themselves within their comfort zone. They are in sustainable employment with a high salary. It would not be sensible to take risks in such a situation, as one could lose everything. Programmers cannot afford to fail, and this is why they prefer to work for those who are willing to pay well and tackle the risks.
Escaping the intellect trap
How can we make intellect our ally? We must learn to be wise. The psychologist Igor Grossman expressed a conviction that wisdom can be acquired. To achieve it one has to leave one’s preconceptions, shift the focus from oneself to other people and learn to acknowledge one’s weaknesses.
If you place your stake on wisdom you will receive wonderful dividends:
- Lifelong satisfaction;
- Absence of pointless anxiety;
- Harmonious relationships with loved ones;
- The possibility of a longer life.
Interview with EDISON programmers
The above-stated ideas do not mean that all intellectuals are tortured geniuses. Far from it! Many of them become professionals in high demand and are very successful. In reality it is important to find one's niche.
We have talked to the programmers at EDISON Software Development Centre. Each of them has a rather high IQ and all of them have reached what were striving at: they became programmers. We asked them a series of questions, and here are some of the most interesting answers..
— What helped you become so intelligent?
— It all starts with curiosity. If a child is curious and this quality is encouraged and cultivated in him, then he’ll have a craving for knowledge. You shouldn’t suppress his initiative if you want him to achieve a lot in life. You should encourage responsibility.A well-developed intellect is the result of upbringing, effort and ambition. But the main thing is to foster interest in knowledge — this is the foundation.
— What do you like about being a programmer?
— This profession always has room for growth. It has a creative element, a constant need to study something new. It is a comfortable and highly-paid job, which provides an adequate standard of living.
— How does being a programmer help you in life?
— I learnt to manage my time and became a more organized person generally. I can solve abstract problems and that means that there will be few situations in life which I won’t be able to handle. I know how to study, so every person that I meet will be able to teach me something.
— What advice can you give to parents of clever children?
— Apart from intellect, a child should be physically well-developed: let him engage in sports. He should have friends and be socially active in order to balance out the intellectual side. Positive personal qualities should be developed.
— What about yourself helps you win over girls?
— Perhaps the fact that I’m a good person.
Today programming is a wonderful way to find your place in the world. A programmer can find any sphere in life which is close to his heart, whether production, medicine or art – and contribute to its development. However, you shouldn't attempt to fit into the narrow framework of your intellect, however «highly-developed» it may be: you are greater than your mind. Reason everything out, but let the heart guide you in your most important life decisions. As the famous quote by Blaise Pascal has it: «The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing».