Several generations of very successful people have grown up believing that what will help them and their children leave a dent in the Universe and live happily ever after was high IQ. And it was true for many decades, until it wasn’t.
Logical-mathematical intelligence is just one of numerous intelligences that we posses. Howard Gardner (Professor of Education at Harvard University) outlined eight more intelligences and specifically left the possibility for others to expand the list.
These intelligences (or competencies) relate to a person’s unique aptitude, set of capabilities and ways they might prefer to demonstrate these abilities.
The current list includes:
1. Verbal-linguistic intelligence (well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words).
2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns).
3. Spatial-visual intelligence (capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly).
4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully).
5. Musical intelligences (ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber).
6. Interpersonal intelligence (capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others).
7. Intrapersonal (capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes).
8. Naturalist intelligence (ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature).
9. Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as: “What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?”
If you look at the most successful people of our generation, you will see that those who made a massive positive difference in the world – weren’t all logical-mathematical geniuses with super high IQ, like Bill Gates.
Some were interpersonal geniuses (like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela), some have extremely high existential intelligence (Dalai Lama) and some have genius-like levels of spatial-visual intelligence (like Norman Foster and our wonderful photographers at Splento :)).
However, my point is not to say that you shouldn’t do “the hard sciences” – I do strongly believe that math is the foundation for any inquisitive mind and I put scientific method and critical thinking at the base of my “self improvement and life long learning pyramid of excellence”.
My point is that after careful analysis, I found one more intelligence that is not on this list: all successful people have this intelligence in common and since it’s not in the Gardner’s list, I’ll take the liberty of adding it there.
Let’s call it the Growth Intelligence (GQ).
It’s a gaseous concoction of raw ambition and unbridled desire to improve with a healthy doze of critical thinking, dare to fail and readiness to go outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis. Ability to hold two conflicting thoughts in your head at once. Capacity to have strong beliefs; yet holding them weakly. Craving for deliberate practice and the true grit to persist in the face of setbacks.
There isn’t a test or mathematical formula to know how high your GQ is, but paraphrasing United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart:
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of abilities I understand to be embraced by people with high GQ (infinite learners), and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But you and I know it when we see it!