What Is Brainpower? A Definition

What is brainpower? My dictionary simply says this: “Intellectual capacity.” That’s the entire entry. This two word definition leaves a lot of things unanswered. For example, does “intellectual capacity,” and therefore brainpower simply mean IQ, or “intelligence quotient”?

I have another definition of brainpower that I prefer. It is “The effective use of ones brain.” Power, after all, is defined as, “The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively,” and “Strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted.” Power is not the mere possession of things that have potential, but the ability to use them. Military power, for example, does not arise solely from owning weapons, but from having men who are trained to use them.

In a similar way, intelligence alone is not brainpower, if there is no ability to use it effectively. Perhaps you have known an intelligent person who can talk endlessly about almost any topic, but has trouble actually doing anything in life. You might say that such a person has much potential brainpower, but a less intelligent man who can implement one good idea has more actual brainpower.

We are sometimes in awe of intelligence, but we forget that like all tools, it has no value in and of itself. Does a million dollars have any real power if it is simply buried in the ground? Is a man richer because he has better business potential? Is an artist great because he could learn to be better than the best? Unrealized potential is simply that – unrealized.

Defining Brainpower

I would say that Einstein, who also had a high IQ, had a lot of brainpower, because he produced many things with his intelligence. Henry Ford, who was not known for his high IQ, also had a lot of brainpower, because he very effectively used what intelligence he had. Then there are the millions of intellectuals who truly have potential and maybe even high IQ scores, but never seem to find a way to make that mean something in the world or in their own lives. By my definition they have no real brainpower.

If you agree with this definition of brainpower, and you want to increase yours, you have to do a couple things. First, it certainly helps to have more knowledge, and learn certain techniques (like problem solving techniques). But in addition to that, you have to connect that raw intelligence and technique to real life.

In other words, it doesn’t increase your brainpower to have a new problem solving technique if you never solve a problem with it. It doesn’t mean much to know all about physics or biology or politics if you spend your life washing dishes for a living and doing nothing with your knowledge. Interestingly, many very intelligent people are often unhappy. Perhaps it is a lack of brainpower that limits their ability to make that intelligence serve them.

Definition of brainpower: The EFFECTIVE use of one’s brain.

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