Why the measure of intelligence is the ability to change


Kevin Mangelschots

Everyone knows at least one social chameleon personality who gets along great with each individual they meet from all walks of life, ranging from CEOs, electricians, and teachers, to doctors, and construction workers.

They aren’t always the strongest, nor the smartest. Nevertheless, they typically get done the most since they can modify their behavior to suit their environment.

Thus, the measure of intelligence is the ability to change and adapt to the needs of the circumstances. Let me explain why.

Why is the measure of intelligence the ability to change?

Intelligent individuals have a desire to learn more

The quote, “always desire to learn something useful” written in black letters on a light blue background. Quote by Sophocles.

Being curious about the world and having an insatiable hunger to learn more is an indicator of an intelligent individual.

Learning more transforms us in one way or another. For better, or for worse. Our beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and actions will forever be altered by the new understanding that we’ve gained of the world.

Yet, many people desperately try to hold on to the past, afraid of going through new experiences that could turn their existence upside down. Nevertheless, this world isn’t motionless, and change is happening around us all the time if we’re willing to see it instead of denying it.

But keep in mind that even when burying your head in the sand, the world isn’t going to stop altering. The only option is to keep up or get left behind.

The world is continuously changing

Change Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds Sun Rays and Sky.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change because the world is a dynamic and ever-changing place, even though we might not always notice it.

These changes might provoke some anxiety, and in extreme cases even frighten us since we inherently have a fear of the unknown. Yet, change is required for us to grow as individuals.

Change leads to growth

Without change, there would be stagnation without any new ideas popping up, or any incentive to improve.

But because things shift so quickly, we are forced to adapt, or we will inevitably be left behind. That’s already happening today and has been this way since forever.

Just think of the technological revolution and how we’re forced to be able to operate a computer, navigate the internet, and make payments online. A lot of older folks who didn’t grow up with these novel technologies are already having a lot of issues keeping pace.

Change leads to new experiences

Illustration about how change leads to new experiences drawn on a blackboard with chalk.

If we only stay in our safe bubble and do what’s already known to us, then we won’t gain any new experiences. Thus, we’ll remain the same without any chance of bettering ourselves.

What we need to learn lies in the unknown. In that scary, dark part of existence that we want to stay clear of since we’re typically afraid of what’s strange to us, and what we don’t understand.

Change provides new learning opportunities

You can’t learn new things when you don’t get new stimuli. It has been shown that children and babies that are deprived of stimuli are detrimental to their cognitive development.

That comes as no surprise to me, seeing as we react to the world, and when there’s nothing to respond to or to learn from, then it’s impossible to acquire new knowledge.

Requirements of the world are changing all the time

In ancient history, strength was probably more valued than it is today since there was less technology, society wasn’t established yet, and force was important to hunt and defend yourself from animals and hostile tribes.

Today, raw power is less critical for our survival since there’s less need to protect ourselves because we have established a society with a government that prohibits us from attacking, or hurting others.

Since there’s an incredible technological revolution going on, intelligence is getting more and more critical to keep up with these changes. But also to develop, and make money from these technological advancements.

Change requires intelligence

Being able to change requires intelligence since we’ll need to figure out how our life is going, what our strengths are, and perhaps more importantly, what our weaknesses are. Not to mention that we need it to figure out what the world requires of us.

We need to engage in problem-solving behavior daily, which is a complex cognitive activity that requires a considerable amount of fluid intelligence to pull off correctly.

Change demands being able to learn

You need to learn new things by acquiring new knowledge and by gaining a novel understanding of the world before you can make changes to your character and your existence.

Advanced learning isn’t something that every life form can do easily. Some get by on instincts, but humans have become a thriving species since we’re capable of learning complex things and consequently, adapting to whatever our environment requires.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change” mean?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change, since it isn’t always the smartest one that wins, nor the strongest. It’s the person who can adapt the best to their immediate environment.

Humans are highly pliable to adapt. This way, we can thrive in multiple environments, and in a rapidly changing world.

For example, physical strength is less demanded in our modern society and thus, less essential than it was before to survive. Nowadays, intelligence and problem-solving are typically valued more highly to produce favorable results.

Who said the measure of intelligence is the ability to change?

A black and white image of Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein famously said the popular quote, “Intelligence is the ability to change.”

He was a German theoretical physicist who created the theory of relativity and lived from 14 March 1879 to 18 April 1955.

Furthermore, he also contributed to the improvement of quantum mechanics.

Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change to fit the requirements of society, and life itself.

It’s not necessarily the strongest who survives, nor the smartest. It’s the one who’s able to adapt the best to their environment.

Don’t be afraid of change. Rather, embrace it since it’ll provide you with new learning experiences that you can use to change yourself for the better.