How Important is Intelligence For Success?

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Although IQ tests measure a certain aspect of intelligence potential, there isn't complete agreement that what is being measured is actually intelligence.

Standard intelligence tests focus a lot on exploring and measuring linguistic/logical/mathematical ability. But is that really the same quality as intelligence? Or is intelligence something broader than that?

We have all met people who have a lot of "book smarts" but seem to have no "life smarts." Should we really be saying that they are intelligent? Some people who did poorly in school often turn out to be very successful in later life. Why do our current IQ tests seem unable to predict or explain these outcomes?

A person may have failed dismally in school, and yet turn out to be a genius in marketing. Is this person stupid, or brilliant? If a man is a great scientist, but can't ever pick a suitable mate, is he really very smart?

Was Picasso inept because he wasn't also a brilliant mathematician? Was Einstein inadequate because he wasn't also a great artist?

Which of these two men had more intelligence? Is there more than one kind of intelligence? How should we define intelligence? Can we really measure it? What is intelligence, really?

Several experts in the field of intelligence have proposed that we need to broaden our understanding of what intelligence really is, and the role it plays in successful living.

Psychologist Howard Gardner of Harvard University has suggested that we should consider a wide range of talents and abilities as valid forms of intelligence.

In his intriguing book, "Frames of Mind: Theories of Multiple Intelligences", Gardner has proposed the existence of at least seven types of intelligence: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, social-interpersonal and intra-personal.

Another psychologist, Robert Sternberg, has suggested we consider three distinct forms of intelligence. One type is the ability to think logically and rationally, doing well in an academic type of environment.

A second kind of intelligence identified by Sternberg is the ability to come up with creative solutions to real life situations. And the third type, according to Sternberg, is the ability to psychologically understand people and interact effectively with them.

A very different perspective on the IQ issue is presented by Daniel Goleman in his best-selling book, "Emotional Intelligence". Goleman offers an explanation for why a high IQ does not always lead to success in career or in life.

He says that EQ, or emotional intelligence, has been an overlooked factor that is an extremely important ingredient for success in life. An ability to get along with others, to be optimistic, to be determined, are among the many factors that contribute to success, perhaps even more than intellectual ability.

Are you starting to realize that intelligence is not just a question of one test score number that forever limits your possibilities? If we define intelligence primarily as an aptitude for mathematical and linguistic/logical thinking, we may be missing other forms of intelligence that are also important.

If you happen to know your own IQ score, don't think of it as something that limits or defines your potential. If your IQ is in the average range it does not in any way mean you are limited to a life of average success and average accomplishment. If your IQ is in the above average range, it does not guarantee you a life of ease. You can't use either a high IQ score or a low one as an excuse not to try very hard.

Your IQ score is only a number. It does not define you. It does not really limit you. It's just a starting point. Remember that many other qualities you already possess or can develop are also important for success in life.