Knowledge is all that’s been perceived or grasped by the mind. It’s the body of accumulated facts and principles within your awareness, understanding, familiarity. To know means to have a clear perception or understanding of, to be sure of, have securely in your memory.
Intelligence is very different. Intelligence is the ability to respond quickly (quickly means without hesitation) and successfully (successfully means you get the outcome you were hoping for) to a new (new means you’ve never seen this before) situation. Intelligence is also your ability to learn, to continuously get smarter.
It’s the ability to solve problems in situations you’ve never seen or heard about before.
It comes from the Latin word intelligere which meant to choose. To make excellent choices.
It’s the difference between being able to remember and being able to think.
The more you know, the easier it should be to be intelligent. But knowledge is no guarantee of intelligence. There are many people who know a lot, who can’t solve problems when faced with new situations.
Intelligence is literally your ability to be in a new situation where you don’t have knowledge and you’re faced with a problem. How fast, and how effectively, can you solve that problem? The faster and more effectively you can, the greater your intelligence.
You can see that especially in a situation where you don’t have a lot of knowledge, you would want a lot of intelligence.
You can also see how imagination plays into intelligence. Great intelligence is composed of great perceptiveness and great imagination.
Intelligent people are not afraid of problems. They’re good at facing and resolving them. They enjoy the process. In my experience, they’re usually rather cheerful about them.
That’s one of the reasons why I place a premium on intelligence over knowledge, both when I hire people and also in my personal life. I love intelligent people.
There’s someone I work with closely and one of our favorite things to do together is to sit down and tackle what we call unsolvable problems. Amazing how rapidly you can solve them when you cheerfully decide to use your imagination to come up with answers.
How do you increase intelligence?
Interestingly enough, I have found learning and understanding the precise meanings and derivations of words greatly increases intelligence. The more hours I spend in the dictionary, the smarter I’ve become. It greatly increases my ability to discern, to think, to activate my imagination, not to mention communicate effectively.
I once asked a corporate executive over 1500 people how many intelligent people he had working for him and he said he didn’t know. When we precisely defined the word he said, “3”. It was the first time he really knew what the word intelligent meant.
Knowledge is good. Intelligence is king.
PS I got these definitions from Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 2nd Edition, where I get many of my definitions.