Monday, March 26, 2012

Forget what your IQ says; how's your Successful Intelligence level?

You have likely heard the saying... 'Common Sense isn't so Common', but have you ever really wondered about the impact of common sense on our success?  Psychologist Robert Sternberg has been conducting research that does just that.

Sternberg always found the belief that Intelligence tests could accurately predict business and personal success to be flawed.  Most standard IQ tests measure a very narrow range of abilities, many of which aren't strong indicators or predictors of success itself.  He therefore has begun presenting his thoughts on what he calls Success Intelligence, the ability to think in ways that help you to develop your personal excellence and to ultimately thrive and excel at work.

Your Successful Intelligence is made up of three key ways of thinking:

  1. Analytical Thinking, which is the ability to solve problems and judge ideas
  2. Creative Thinking, the ability to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems
  3. Practical Thinking, the ability to use and implement your ideas effectively.
Your level of Successful Intelligence is greatest, and most effective, when these three key types of thinking are operating in balance with one another.  People with high levels of Successful Intelligence know how to make the most of what they have and are able to actively find ways to work around any of their limitations.  In essence, this is very much in alignment with what I share with clients all of the time: the need to focus on developing your strengths, while finding ways to minimize your weaknesses.

J. Robert Baum, Director of Entrepreneurship Research at the University of Maryland, says that your learning orientation has a direct impact upon your entrepreneurship success.  Those that don't learn much from their past experiences don't tend to gain much in the way of Practical Intelligence, thereby seriously impacting their ability to start or run successful new ventures.  Those with high Practical Intelligence though, tend to learn best by doing and not by watching or reading, providing them with hands-on, practical experience they can apply to a variety of different opportunities in future.

Your Successful Intelligence, and in particular your Practical Intelligence, is completely separate from your IQ, which is why some with very high IQ levels can prove to be unsuccessful in business while those with comparatively lower IQs might enjoy a great deal more success.  He and his group ran a number of experiments in which they determined that Practical Intelligence was a key determining factor in entrepreneurial success, rating much higher than IQ.  

The implication for each of us is, of course, to let go of any notion that we might not be 'smart enough' to take on new tasks or roles and that we should consider whether we have Analytical, Creative and Practical Intelligence needed to be successful.  

From childhood we have gotten too hung up on the concept of IQ being the indicator of how far we will travel in life.  Today we are coming to recognise that there are a significant number of other factors that contribute to our overall success, IQ is just one, which helps explain why that 'guy' who kept getting A+ grades all through school may just end up reporting to you, despite your solid B-level grades.  Turns out there's more to it, and to you, than previously was known.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Power of Introverts


This is the lifeblood of the introvert, their deepest need and desire.  Not necessarily the quiet of a total absence of sound, but the sort of quiet that allows for solitude, a time for internal reflection and thought.  Today's workplaces though allow for few opportunities for individuals to break away from group meetings and discussions, or from group-think brainstorming sessions, and truly have time to think and process ideas on their own.  Without this time though, introverts suffer and we rarely then get the best ideas from them.

In her new book, Quiet, Susan Cain speaks out not only about the inherent differences between Extroverts and Introverts, but why we need to modify the way we live, teach and work in an effort to truly allow introverts, and not just extroverts, to shine.  With a third to half of North America's population being more introverted by nature, our failure to create cultures that recognise and embrace their natures often results in poorer decisions, ideas and insights.

I have attached a Ted-talk given by Susan Cain that you will surely find interesting and enlightening.  For you extroverts out there, I hope that you gain some insights about how you might work with, manage and mentor your more introverted co-workers better.  And for my introverted brethren...  I hope you discover in this talk the message that you are not alone, that you are not 'wrong' for wanting to spend time on your own and, perhaps most importantly, that you come to realize how much the world needs and counts on the insights you develop in those solo flights of mind.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Be the Change, Be Your Change

I recently watched the movie 'Machine Gun Preacher', about ex-drug-dealing biker Sam Childers and his ongoing support of 100's of homeless Sudanese children.  Then, this week I, like over 30 million others, watched the viral YouTube video Kony 2012, Invisible Children's efforts to dedicate the year 2012 to not only helping raise awareness of the atrocities and crimes committed by the LRA's leader Joseph Kony, but to create enough outcry that those with power are compelled to take action.

Kony has been wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for decades, and yet he continues to abduct children from their homes, forcing young girls to becomes sex slaves and young boys to become soldiers in his army.  To date it is estimated that he has taken more than 30,000 children.  Their voices have not been loud enough for resources to have been committed to the search and capture of Kony, but the Kony 2012 initiative is designed to lend our voices to theirs.

This is a campaign initiated by a few, who were also told that their voice was too small to make a difference, that were told they would not be able to create the change in the world they wanted to see.  However, they were unwilling to accept this answer and to accept that wrong could be allowed to persevere. Instead, they looked for a way to make it happen, to create the momentum for change.  They found their voice...

This is the big-scale picture of change.

My message to each of you today is not based on the need for each of you to get involved with this campaign,  this is not a blog focusing on political action or global change initiatives.  This is a blog focusing on personal change, personal growth and empowerment.  Instead, consider this a call to not only help change the world but to perhaps begin to make the personal changes you need to... for you, by beginning to embrace the message that the young people of Invisible Children did, that

We CAN make a difference,
We CAN be the voice of change.

And, in particular, that we can be the difference we want and need in OUR lives.  It is never too late to begin to live the life we want.  We just need two things to make it happen.  Clarity and Courage.


  • Clarity of Purpose (What do you want?)
  • Clarity of Possession (What do you have?)
  • Clarity of Person (What do you need?)

Courage.  To take the first step.

Invisible Children are working to ignite the world, envisioning change on a global scale.  They didn't back down when told they could not, they simply looked for new ways to fulfil their 'I Can'.  The biggest audience for their video are young women from 13-17 years and young men from 13-24.  Our children have learned 'I can'.  We have helped to shape a generation that can see how their one voice can make a difference, that it can, when added to the voices of others, change the world.

How can you then deny to yourself the power of your voice to envision, and create the change that you want and need in your life?  You have as much power as you need to make it happen.  You need only to create change for one, by influencing the actions of one.  Be your one.  Because, in the end...

You are the difference you want to see in your life, so begin by going out and doing something different.... today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Music of Life

Picture an all-too familiar scene...  a busy Metro station, crowds of people hurrying... somewhere.  A lone busker, this time a violinist, stands by busy street-level doors, playing Bach.  In fact, he plays 6 different pieces for over 45 minutes.  1,100 people walk past him in that time, 27 people give him some money (in all just over $32), only 6 stayed for any length of time and listened.

But on this early Friday morning in January, it was no ordinary busker, playing ordinary music on an ordinary violin.  This Friday morning was special.  As part of a social experiment, initiated by the Washington Post, on this Friday morning, Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, played one of the most intricate and beautiful pieces of music ever written, on one of the most expensive violins ever made (worth over $3.5 million)... in a Washington D.C. metro station.

Most people that were present failed to notice him, let alone hear or appreciate the music.

Certainly, explanations can be offered.  It was a Friday morning, people were on their way to work, they were late, they had other priorities...  But watch the video.  These people were not merely rushing, they didn't even notice Bell.  They didn't walk past him reluctantly, they failed to even acknowledge his playing.  In fact, in later interviews, some didn't even recall that a musician had been present, even though they passed within 4 feet of him.

If one of the world's most acclaimed virtuoso's could go completely unnoticed it begs the question... What else are we missing?

Are we all so caught up in our every day 'busyness' of life that we are losing our recognition and appreciation of beauty and art?

What was interesting is that of those 1000+ passers-by, it was predominantly young children that were the most fascinated by the musician present.  They clearly wanted to remain to listen but were hustled past quickly by their parents.  Children, it would seem, still possess an appreciation for the beauty around them.  At what point however do the expectations of others around us begin to inhibit and restrict this enjoyment?  And... why would we let it?

Don't get me wrong.  I am certainly as achievement focused and driven as the next person, but... I do not want to envision a life where we lose all sense of wonder in the world around us, where we fail to recognise the value that beauty brings to our minds, hearts and souls, whether through music or through art.  Taking the time each day to search for the beauty that surrounds us can go a long way to being more appreciative of what we have, and where we are.  Find those moments in your day - they are out there.

This week, practise looking for and appreciating your moments.  Whether in a sunset, a smile, the laugh of a child, a painting or the music of some street corner musician.  They might not always be the calibre of Joshua Bell, but they can still serve to give your day the lift that it needs!