How often have we heard others talk about how “intelligent” they consider someone to be? Intelligence is a description of how good someone is at mentally doing something. Intelligence involves thought. Intelligence includes the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.
Do you consider yourself to be intelligent?
Schools and the education system would have us believe that we are only intelligent if we are able to solve complex abstract problems or remember facts and figures. I would agree that this is a type of intelligence and this type of intelligence is normally referred to as IQ or “intelligence quotient” (a phrase coined by an American psychologist named Lewis Terman).
A small proportion of the population has a high IQ and they find the academic type of learning and activities in school relatively easy. But the vast majority of people don’t. So where does that leave everyone else?
Well, the good news is that IQ is not a measure of success. Most people with a high IQ do not go on to be as successful as their IQ score may lead us to believe. Most people with a high IQ take reasonably well paid, but routine, employment. Most are not happy with risk and rather limit their own success by becoming “comfortable” and fall far short of what their potential suggests.
There is another type of intelligence that may be more important to success in life and this has been publicized by the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) by Daniel Goleman (although the term was first used several years earlier by two academics – Mayer and Salovey).
EQ has to do with recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions.
EQ is the capacity to create positive outcomes in our relationships with ourselves and others. These learnable skills create joy, love, and success of all kinds.
Studying EQ it becomes clear that IQ has less to do with success in life than EQ. The good news is that we all have EQ and that it can be developed. We can develop our EQ to help us build our relationships with others, to use our emotions appropriately, to focus our efforts, and to become more successful in life.
EQ may be so important that it could be the best predictor of who will succeed in any area of life.
Can we look beyond IQ and EQ?
When you look at the world, do you see only space and time, mass and energy, logic, and reason? Or do you also see connectivity and design, purpose and meaning, faith, and mystery?
In his book What’s your SQ? Michael Guillen has developed the idea of “spiritual intelligence” or SQ. SQ considers your views beyond the materialistic living of modern life. Without spirituality, it is possible to become very unhappy or dissatisfied with life no matter how much material possessions we accumulate.
Can you be successful if you are not truly happy? I would argue not and that a balance of IQ, EQ, and SQ is necessary for a happy and successful life.
Are there any other forms of intelligence? Yes, there is another important theory on multiple intelligences and you can read about that in another article.
To be happy and successful in life focus on your EQ and SQ. If you are fortunate enough to have some IQ too then all the better – but don’t rely on your IQ alone.
© 2005 Max Wiseman
Note: Links are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make any purchases.
Get started on learning more
- Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
- Primal Leadership, With a New Preface by the Authors: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
- Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
- Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success
- Social Intelligence for the Socially Awkward: A Practical How-To Guide for Speed Reading People and Social Dynamics, Having Magnetic Charisma, and Dominating Social Circles (Master Your Social Skills)
- Working with Emotional Intelligence