Intelligence & Hard Work Arraigned

Here’s why I will choose hard work over intelligence.

Being a medical doctor, and having to go through the rigorous training that the process demands, I can arguably say that becoming a doctor is more hard work than brain work.

Ironically, most doctors in this part of the world were top students in secondary school, and a large percent of us chose the discipline because it was the path that smart student took – if they didn’t opt for Engineering or Law.

How wrong we were!

Your brains may admit you into medical school but your hard work and tenacity will see you through it.


Growing up, I had an uncle who would readily place a bet that my immediate younger brother was a lot smarter than myself. And I would agree with him.

My brother was that child who consistently took the first position in primary school. I, on the other hand, alternated between the first and second positions.

My dad desired for my brother to be a medical doctor and myself a lawyer. This desire had nothing to do with our perceived levels of intelligence.

True to thought, my brother must have been smart enough to know that he was not cut out for the medical profession. And I too dumb to push for it without restrains.

In my brother’s words, “I don’t have the energy for their big, big books.”

You see, my brother is that smart student who knows he doesn’t need to study to pass the exams. I, on the other hand, innately love to read. And what others call “the pain of studying,” I consider “the joy of learning.”

I graduated from secondary school as the valedictorian of my set to my utter amazement. Sometimes I wonder, “Could that have been because I studied more than the other students?”

I have the memory of staying up late to study in secondary school. Sometimes, I was the only student awake in my dormitory. I also remember the passion I had for finishing my syllables and tackling all the past questions. Doing these must have distinguished me.

My university experience was a different ball game altogether. I passed all my professional exams in one sitting, but I was not the best student in any of the courses.

The valedictorian of my class in medical school is nicknamed The Work Lord or Working Master. A name coined from his famous slogan, “Work has to be done.”

He is a firm believer in the value of hard work and its role in achieving great success.

In recent times, there have been modifications of the term “hard work,” with people placing emphasis on the smartness of the work being done, over the energy imputed to the work. While I agree that there are smarter, and consequently easier ways of getting a work done, I like that both schools of thoughts recognize the value of work.

A “dumb” person who puts in the required work in any venture would over time become smarter than an “intelligent” person who gives in to laziness, solely relying on his intelligence, and makes no effort to improve himself.

What do you think? Intelligence or hard work, which would you rather choose and why?




By annieejiofor

Hello. I'm Annie, a Nigerian, medical doctor, IELTS coach, freelance editor and the voice behind the writing.

I blog about life within and without medicine and other lifestyle topics like books, travel and helpful advice for medical professionals.

9 replies on “Intelligence & Hard Work Arraigned”

Hi Annie,

I absolutely love this post, because it is one that relates directly to me. You see, I am quite like your younger brother, and since my childhood days, I haven’t had to work really hard in order to pass. While this was something I got away with, there is always the inner feeling that comes from knowing that you could do better.

I changed my mind about Medicine last year, and decided to pursue BIOMED instead. I am grateful for being able to recognise the fact that such a course doesn’t require just brains. Even now at uni, I find that with minimal work I could get a first in most courses, and that mentality is quite bad.

This post is definitely a call to put in more work.

Chiazor. xx

Liked by 1 person

I like both. Alternating between intelligence and work is smart work. I hate hard work especially physical work, if i could use my brain to reduce it… The better.

Liked by 1 person

Ahh. Finally a different perspective 😁👍

I don’t like physical work, too. I appreciate when I or someone else finds creative ways that get the job done in a shorter and less stressful manner. In this context though, I was referring to mental work, and intelligent persons striving for more.

Thanks, Chima, for replying your thoughts. 😁 It’s been a while.


I like both of them, but if I must choose one, then I’d definitely choose Hard work over intelligence.

In reality however, most of the success stories we’ve heard were birthed by an interplay between both factors.

I am inclined to believe that both are essential, we only need to combine them in varying proportions depending on personal uniqueness/peculiarities. For some it’s 50:50,for others 70:30 or 30:70 and so on an so forth.

If we are talking ‘all or nothing’, I choose Hard work☺.

Well done Annie👏.

Liked by 1 person

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