Story ‣ Why Do Some Intelligent People Fail To Achieve Their Potential?

One of the smartest, perhaps the smartest person on the planet, Kim Ung-Yong, was doing calculus and speaking five languages before age five.

By age eight he was doing math at NASA and finished his Ph.D. prior to age fifteen.

It’s all a bit over the top.

None of this was by his own decision. After the discovery of his genius, an I.Q. of over 200, he was placed on an ultra-fast track program for his life.

After accumulating a mind numbing pile of academic accolades, he worked at NASA for years until he abruptly quit.

Here you have the smartest guy in the world, someone whose intelligence dwarfs most Harvard students, and he walks away from it all.

Why? He wasn’t happy. It was all too much intensity for him. He felt like a machine and just wanted something normal.

He now works in a normal university faculty position as a professor. A prestigious job for most people. But for him? Not so. Kim is still periodically targeted by Korean news outlets for being a “failed genius”. With all of his gifts he was expected to change the world and innovate within several science fields.

It begs the question, who decided Kim was supposed to change the world? It certainly wasn’t him.

Mr. Kim might not be someone most of us can relate to. But he is analogous, ground zero even, for the problems intelligent people face with regards to “potential.” Just because someone is smart, strong, creative, doesn’t mean they want to be king of the world.

Some people are happy with a low key life. Happiness is the great equalizer. If they are happy, your expectations no longer matter.