18 things intelligent people do (without even realizing)

Socrates once said: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, I know nothing.” 

This makes sense, to be honest. Some of the loudest, brashest people out there tend to be the most ignorant. 

Meanwhile, many intelligent people aren’t even fully aware of their intellectual gifts sometimes. Ironic, I know, but this is the reality. 

Intelligence is a multifaceted and complex trait, but there are certain behaviors and habits that intelligent people tend to exhibit, often without even realizing it. 

By adopting some of these behaviors and habits, you can cultivate your own intelligence and become a more well-rounded individual. Here are 18 things that intelligent people tend to do. 

Let’s get this show on the road!

1) They maintain a growth mindset

I’ll start with this: intelligent people have a growth mindset, meaning they believe that their abilities can be developed and strengthened over time. 

They don’t see their current skillset as a limitation, but rather as a starting point. They embrace challenges and seek out opportunities to learn and grow

This mindset helps them to keep on improving and achieving their goals.

And a growth mindset can’t be possible without proper feedback…

2) They ask for feedback

Intelligent folks know the importance of feedback for their personal and professional growth.  

So, they are open to constructive criticism and are always looking for ways to improve. 

By seeking feedback, they gain a different perspective and can identify blind spots they may not have considered before.

3) They manage their time effectively

One advantage intelligent people have over regular folks is that they are masters at managing their time effectively. 

They prioritize their tasks and focus on what’s important, rather than get bogged down on trivial details. 

By managing their time well, they are able to achieve more and have more free time to pursue their interests and hobbies. Balance is a way of life for an intelligent person!

4) They show curiosity

Another thing that intelligent people have heaps of is curiosity. They are always interested in learning about new topics and experiences. 

They seek out new information and perspectives and are always asking questions to deepen their understanding of the world around them. 

Because of this curiosity, they are constantly evolving…

5) They are self-aware

The most intelligent people I know are also the most self-aware, having a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. 

They know what they are good at and where they need to improve. 

This self-awareness helps them to make better decisions, focus on their strengths, and seek out opportunities to develop their weaker areas. 

Remember, genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. 

6) They are empathetic

Aside from being self-aware, smart people are empathetic and are able to understand and relate to the feelings and experiences of others. 

They are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective. This indicates a high level of emotional intelligence.

This empathy helps them to connect with others, build stronger relationships, and work effectively in teams.

7) They set goals

Fun fact: intellectuals don’t just sit around at home all day watching YouTube. Instead, they set goals for themselves and constantly work towards achieving them. 

They have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and break their goals down into smaller, manageable steps. 

By setting goals, they are able to focus their efforts and stay motivated. Goals keep them sharp and on their toes. 

8) They are adaptable

And when things get in the way of their goals? No problem! 

Intelligent people are adaptable and able to adjust to changing circumstances. They are comfortable with uncertainty and are able to pivot when things don’t go as planned. 

This adaptability helps them to handle stress, manage change, and take advantage of new opportunities.

9) They take care of their health

Here’s the deal: intelligent people prioritize their health and well-being. They know that health is wealth at the end of the day.  

They exercise regularly, eat relatively clean, and are aware of the value of quality sleep. 

They know that self-care in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally – is key to achieving their goals! 

10) They practice mindfulness 

Speaking of mental and emotional health brings me to this next point…the importance of mindfulness. 

intelligent people practice mindfulness, meaning they are present and fully engaged in the moment. 

They are able to focus their attention and avoid getting distracted by outside factors. This mindfulness helps them to be more productive and perform better in their work and personal lives. 

They’re able to filter out the noise and be completely present. Now that’s skill! 

11) They seek out mentors

Want in on a little insider tip? 

Brainy people seek out mentors who can guide and advise them in their careers and life in general. 

They understand that they don’t have all the answers and can benefit from the wisdom and experience of others. 

By seeking out select mentors, they are able to learn from others’ experiences and avoid making the same mistakes.

12) They embrace creativity

Bright people are creative and are able to come up with fresh ideas and solutions. 

They are able to think outside the box and approach problems from different angles. 

The greatest movers and shakers of our generation (say, linguist Noam Chomsky or filmmaker Bong Jung Ho) aren’t just smart people. They are also deeply creative, which allows them to see things in unique ways and innovate as few others can. 

13) They take calculated risks

This is connected to my point about creativity. For creative and intelligent people, risks are a necessary part of success. 

But they don’t plunge headlong without weighing things first. They take calculated risks, meaning they weigh the pros and cons before making decisions. 

They understand that taking risks can lead to greater rewards, but they also understand the potential consequences of their actions. 

By taking calculated risks, they are able to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and achieve new levels of success and growth.

14) They are resilient

What if those risks don’t pay off? That’s okay, because intelligent people sure are persistent. They are resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks and failures. 

They understand that failure is a natural part of the learning process and use setbacks as opportunities to learn. 

This resilience helps them to stay motivated and persevere in the face of challenges.

And speaking of challenges…

15) They seek out challenges 

I’ll be completely honest: smart people tend to get bored. When I say bored, I mean they have an insatiable knack for challenging themselves. 

They seek out challenges and are not afraid to tackle new problems

They understand that challenges are opportunities for growth and learning, and they embrace them with enthusiasm. 

By seeking out challenges, they are able to push themselves to new heights and achieve greater success. 

And to accept new challenges takes an open mind…

16) They are open-minded

 Being open-minded is something that comes naturally to Intelligent people

They are ready and willing to consider different perspectives and ideas. 

They are not quick to judge or dismiss ideas that are different from their own. By being open-minded, they are able to learn from others, gain new insights, and expand their own understanding of the world.

Think about it: the foundation of being an effective scientist is having an open mind. They aren’t fixed in their ways. This is fundamental to the scientific method. 

No matter how firm they are about a subject, if evidence comes along that proves them otherwise, they are willing to change their theory. 

This capability to maintain an open mind makes scientists some of the most intelligent people in the world. 

Scientists think critically, demanding evidence before moving forward. This brings me to my next point…

17) They tend to think critically 

Being a little contrarian is part of the intelligent person’s genetic makeup. 

They don’t just accept things the way they are, instead, they are critical thinkers who are able to analyze and evaluate information objectively. 

They question assumptions and seek out evidence to support their beliefs. 

This ability to think critically helps them to make informed decisions and avoid being swayed by bias or misinformation. 

In an age of fake news and rampant misinformation, being able to think critically is such a valuable skill! 

18) They communicate effectively

Lastly, bright individuals are skilled in communicating and able to express their ideas and thoughts clearly and effectively. 

They are able to tailor their communication style to different audiences and situations and are able to convey complex ideas in simple terms–like a skilled DJ reading the crowd at a bar. 

This communication skill helps them to build strong relationships and work effectively in teams. This also makes them natural-born leaders in their fields.  


In short, by incorporating these behaviors and habits into your own life, you can cultivate your own intelligence and become a more well-rounded individual

Remember that intelligence is not just about raw IQ or book smarts – it’s also about curiosity, adaptability, and a willingness to learn and grow. 


Picture of Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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