In light of the passing of Steve Jobs, the well-loved and widely respected founder of Apple Inc., many are theorizing what it takes to be a truly great visionary. While some believe it’s all about the IQ, Michigan State University researchers are arguing that the key to greatness lies in a person’s memory.

Author Zach Hambrick said he and fellow researchers found that a person’s working memory capacity, which is tied to one’s general intelligence, is the deciding factor in whether a person rises to greatness:

“In a series of studies, Hambrick and colleagues found that people with higher levels of working memory capacity outperformed those with lower levels — and even in individuals with extensive experience and knowledge of the task at hand. The studies analyzed complex tasks such as piano sight reading.”

“While the specialized knowledge that accumulates through practice is the most important ingredient to reach a very high level of skill, it’s not always sufficient,” Hambrick said. “Working memory capacity can still predict performance in complex domains such as music, chess, science and maybe even in sports that have a substantial mental component, such as golf.”

A high IQ alone will not catapult a person into greatness, he said, but training your brain might be the answer.

“The jury’s still out on whether you can improve your general intelligence,” Hambrick said. “We hold out hope that cognitive training of some sort may produce these benefits. But we have yet to find the magic bullet.”

Source: Michigan State University

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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