When speaking of motivation, we usually refer to the three following main human drives:
The wish to gain
The fear of loss
The wish to love and be loved

I want to bring up another driving force, and although it is possible to see it as part of each one of the afore mentioned three drives, I think it is an independent force that stands on itself on the list of main drives, and that is

The personal need to be smart all the time

In the past, this surely was a need related to survival, since the advantage of man over all the other animals is his brainpower. The more intelligent you were, the greater your chance of survival.
In the modern world, survival is of another nature, but yet intelligence still has an important function in modern survival. Intelligence has the power to determine the level of your success and your quality of life.
Therefore, I add two more drives to the list of main human drives:

The wish to be smart
The fear to be stupid

Many paradigms are related to the matter of intelligence and stupidity.
For instance:
I have to prove that I am smart all the time, every time again.
I need to cause a "wow" effect on people in order to prove that I am a "Wander Kid".
I always have to be right.
I have to be original, all the time. Originality is an indication of intelligence.
Never become a loser. To be a loser means to be stupid.
It is below my dignity (intelligence) to deal with routine matters.
Any activity for which you don't have to use your brain is inferior (for instance manual labor).
My intelligence makes me "superior" to others
Never say "I don't know". Ignorance must be concealed.
I must always be sharp.
It is shameful to ask questions, because people will think that I am ignorant/stupid.
I must have an opinion about everything.
Under no circumstances should anyone get the impression that I am stupid.
I must never fail. Failure is an indication of stupidity.
Intelligence (or being smart) points to superiority
When I criticize others, I feel intellectually superior to them.
Intelligence means doing things with great success and little effort (mediocre people must make efforts; brilliant people do everything with ease).
It is better to refrain from a certain activity than making mistakes when doing it.
And so on…

Intelligence (or being smart) boosts our self-importance, both in our eyes and in the eyes of others.
Values as devotion, giving, honesty – yes, they are important, but only after intelligence.
Why? Why would someone think that if he/she doesn't prove that he is (very) intelligent he is not worth anything?

That is because intelligence is thought to be a very basic resource required not only for survival, but also for any successful activity and action.
Also, intelligence is the symbol of superiority of man over other living creatures, of his dominance of the earth, his scientific development and learning.
And there lies the paradox. As western culture commends intelligence and knowledge as the "highest value", and since intelligence has no boundaries and continuous efforts should be made to expand it – this striving for and glorification of intelligence seemingly does not have any negative aspect to it. But by sticking to this idea that "intelligence is a superior value" (be smart or die), one does not see to what extend this belief may paralyze him, cause him to shrink back, to develop inhibitions and barriers in his personal growth.

It is so obvious that when we do anything for the first time, and in particular the most important things in life, we may make mistakes and bring poor results. It is clear that the most important things in life require an investment of time and effort. It is clear that leaning is a continuous process and that knowledge and experience are acquired in a process, and not all of a sudden.
It is also clear that if we don't ask, we don't learn. That being intelligent is more about asking than answering.
Also, if we don't do anything, we will not fail, too. And that applies to any area: marketing and sales, dating, playing music, dancing salsa, opening a business… It takes time to learn new things, sometimes even a long time. There are very few areas in which we feel immediately like a fish in the sea, but most things require an investment of learning and experience. So why do we make such an effort to hide this? Why do we try to demonstrate that our intelligence is natural, came easily, is imprinted in our DNA?

Our sages said: "There is no wise person like one who possesses experience"

Many people will live their lives in eternal mediocrity only because they don't want to admit to other people that they lack knowledge, that they are no experts or, God forbid, do not know how to do something that others do regularly. They cannot afford to be doing anything "poorly", not even temporarily. If a more knowledgeable and experienced person on the same matter tries to give advice, they ward him off saying: "I know it already". They clearly want to give him the message: you don't tell me anything new, and if you think you know more than I, you are wrong, I am not any "worse" than you are. And out of this fear to feel inferior they are not ready to accept advice and guidance from a knowledgeable and experienced person. To be "inferior" is something they cannot stand, especially inferior in intelligence, which is the basic ingredient for their self esteem.

What a heavy burden will be taken off the shoulders of such a person if he gives up the need to prove his intelligence. This is self-liberation, the opportunity for creativity, the ability to broach original ideas that may seem stupid but may prove to be a breakthrough; this is freedom from self-importance and the need to boost it all the time, the courage to try other things, to enter non-secure areas.

A person is much more than his brains.

Intelligence does not need to be proven. Intelligence is there, one way or another. It serves us in each and every moment by its very existence. The proof of intelligence is by its self-evidence. The need "to demonstrate it to everybody" is no more than lack of confidence in its very existence.

Intelligence is indeed natural; it indeed comes easily and is imprinted in our DNA. But in its basic form it is only a potential, a seed that can grow and become a large tree only by means of continuous investment in learning, research and experience.

Do yourself a favor; admit that you a complete idiot in something, if that is the case. It is impossible to know everything all the time. By doing so, your learning curve will go up drastically.

Your intelligence is not something you need to prove. It is something you need to use. Being smart is your internal asset, no matter what others may think of you. Being always right is a burden and not a prize. Faking as if you know everything is recipe for ignorance.

And remember, "Everything worthwhile doing is worth doing poorly in the beginning" (origin unknown).

Author's Bio: 

Irit Gezler is a Personal Development Coach & Mentor. Working with groups and individuals for personal transformation and empowerment, using spiritual techniques for awakening awareness, combiend with goels setting, motivation, leadership and excellency.