7 Reasons Why Most Educated People Have Average Lives

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In 1921, a psychologist at Stanford University named Lewis Terman set out on a mission to conduct a research study unlike any before it. Terman and his team studied over 1,000 students; boys and girls. They tracked their IQ, analyzed how many books each student had in their homes, took their medical histories, and on and on. The study, which is famously known as Genetic Studies of Genius, collected data from the students throughout their entire lives. The participants became known as “The Termites.”

As at 2003, there were over 200 members of the sample still alive. The study is to continue until the final member of the sample either withdraws or dies.

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The result of this experiment showed the number one reason why many highly intelligent people end up with average lives. Before we dive deeper into this, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa on Youtube for more insightful posts like this below.

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Now, here are the seven reasons why most educated people achieve average result in life.

  1. They exaggerate the importance of formal education

Going back to the termites experiment, it concluded that, “At any rate, we have seen that intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated” In other words being academically intelligent is not directly proportional to being successful in life. A level of intelligence is required to be successful but beyond a minimum threshold, more intelligence does not make any difference.  It’s like enrolling for a beauty pageant. As a lady, you need a degree of physical attractiveness to qualify. Once you meet that minimum threshold of physical looks, you are as eligible as the most physically attractive person to win because at this point winners are measured by other important attributes. Beyond this, that you look more physically attractive does not make much difference.

The problem is that most educated people believe getting formal education is enough to have a successful life. So, they neglect other important qualities like relationship, leadership, negotiation, self discipline, emotional intelligence, effective communication and other relevant skills. Success in life is a combination of head, heart and hands; not just head. Understanding this will make a great difference in your life.

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  • They Settled

The circle of the average life dictates that you go to school, get a stable life, and then settle down. When you were in school, you had big dreams, high hopes and aspirations. You believed you can conquer the world. Then you got out, life happened, you managed to fix yourself somewhere, then you settled down. After all, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

Most people don’t set out to end up with average life. But at some point, they accepted the life they have as what they deserved. Settling down is a common African culture. In this context, you settle down to be responsible and raise a family. After all, life is not all about making money. Yet they go for every church program to battle for your destiny. What these people fail to understand is that life does not give you what you deserve; rather it gives you what you consistently ask of it. The key is to never settle for the bird in hand; but to stay hungry and keep exploring opportunities.

  • They have Poor leadership skill

According to a study, 57 percent of people leave their jobs because of their direct manager. I recently read through a twitter thread where people mentioned why they left their jobs. Almost everyone mentioned it was because of the poor leadership skills of their manager. They usually lack empathy and people management; they micro-manage. You may be thinking, how does that make an educated person end up having an average life? Well the answer is simple. We are social beings. Progress in life comes from being able to get people to help you get what you want. And poor leadership skill will deprive you from getting people to help achieve your vision.

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  • They Don’t Understand the Power of Leverage

Bill Gates spent years to build Microsoft. Even after he resigned from Microsoft, he still held the position as the richest man in the world for years due to his shares in the company. Here is what you need to understand from this; you only have too hands, one brain and less than 24 in a day to be productive. There is a limit to how much you can do with these. What high net worth people do is to leverage the hands, brains and time of other people to build their empire.

Another thing you need to understand from this is that you cannot build wealth from will power and effort alone; rather you grow your net worth by building or leveraging existing systems that function in your absence. It could be a business you co-own, an investment in stock, real estate and so on, or any other form of investment. The point is that you do not live the job of growing your net worth to just your two hands, one brain and less than 24 hours.

  • They live for Instant Gratification

The richest black man in the world bought himself a private jet worth $45 million at the age of 53, but he was worth over $10 billion and it took him 30 years to get to that status. Now think about this; what is the faction of the price of his jet to his net worth? Well, it’s equivalent to someone worth $10,000 spending $45 on a toy. Not so extravagant right? Now you see why it’s not smart to spend $750 on a phone, when all you are worth is $4,000?

According to researchers at Temple University, and several other research for that matter, the ability to delay gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. Educated people end up with average lives when they cannot delay pleasure for future benefits. If you analyze your spending habits and what you spend your money on, you can easily tell if you are on the path to an average life or possibility of making a fortune.

  • Poor Financial Education

There are three money skills you need to be financially independent; the skill to make money, the skill to keep money and the skill to grow money. Most of the people you consider as rich from their spending habits are only good at making money. Some people are also good at saving money in the bank. But real wealth is created when you grow money. Unfortunately, these skills are not taught in school. Which is why most educated people know very little about making and keeping money, and almost nothing about the growing it.

It’s not rocket science to understand the simple financial principle that what cost you money to own is a liability and what makes you money to own is an asset. But it’s alarming how we throw common sense in the gutter once money hits the account. You studied to develop skills and knowledge you can exchange for money. You also have to study to understand how to make the most of the money you earn.

  • They don’t invest in self education

The last time most educated people read a book was to write an exam. Most people don’t seek to learn for the sake of learning. They take a job not because of what they will learn or the opportunities the job will create for them, but because of the money they get paid. Failure is often the result of reaching for something without having the necessary education and resources to make it happen. The more education you gain about something, the more likely you are to succeed at it.

If you are educated but cannot get your financial life together; that means you lack the education to make that part of your life to work. Can I be blunt here? Most educated people are too arrogant to learn what they don’t understand. While most educated people rely rather too much on their academic qualification to get through life, people who become successful continuously invest in themselves to know what they don’t know. If you want to make an average living, rely on formal education; but if you want to make a fortune, choose self education.

What’s one lesson you are taking away? Let us know in the comment section. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa channel, now is a good time to hit the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!


  • Ifeoma Chuks is a naturally-skilled writer. She has written and contributed to more than 6000 articles all over the internet that have formed solid experiences for particularly aspiring, young people around the globe.

    Content Manager