4 Red Flags That Actually Prove You’re Smarter Than You Think, Backed by Science

Viewed in Inc.

Perhaps you are one of those executives, managers, or employees who is aware you have one or more of the following four work traits perceived to be (at best) unconventional and (at worst) dysfunctional: Procrastination, indecisiveness, an preference for self-isolation, or a preference for starting your work day late and working into the night.

Deficiency vs. Intellectual Brilliance

If so, this Inc. article brings you scientifically-backed good news: Possessing one or more of these traits might actually not represent a deficiency at all. In fact, they may more likely reflect your intellectual brilliance.


First, procrastination. As this Inc. article notes, procrastination is actually a trait vastly more common in individuals with high IQs. Evidence of this fact appears right here in a 2016 Journal of Personality article, which finds that high IQ individuals prefer to deliberate as opposed to diving right into their work.

In fact, as Inc. reports, “waiting to get started could be the smartest approach to take.”


Second up is the tendency to be indecisive. Here too evidence exists that challenges the conventional wisdom that it is the opposite, decisiveness,  that reflects wisdom.

No less than Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s most celebrated and successful (now former) chief executive officers, has stood up to defend indecisiveness. “The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved,” Bezos says. Nor is Bezos alone in this belief. Thinking, Fast and Slow author Daniel Kahneman has argued that self-correction also is a reflection of intelligence.


Third, while it may be true that a desire to spend a lot of time alone does not exactly match the traditional image of an active, engaged, and intelligent leader, it might be advisable not to stereotype the trait.

Once again, science challenges this presumption. “Research published in 2016 in British Journal of Personality found that the more highly intelligent people socialize, the less happy they tend to be,” Inc. reports.  

Reason: Because highly intelligent people tend to prefer spending time focused on long-term goals, they tend to view social engagement as an unnecessary and even counterproductive distraction.

Late start and night work

Finally, perhaps you are not a morning person. In fact, perhaps you feel guilty about preferring to start your work day late and work into the night. Here again, science challenges any negative stereotyping of this trait. In fact, research published in Personality and Individual Differences reports that “people who feel more alert and productive well into the late hours are more likely to have higher intelligence.” And that’s not all. According to findings published in British Medical Journal, “night owls also tend to have better jobs and earn larger incomes than early risers.”

Genuine wisdom

So go easy on your self-criticism. What you may perceive to be dysfunctional work traits maybe , as science suggests, signs of genuine  wisdom.        

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