You're smart. You really are. And so are each of your kids, your spouse, your co-workers and your boss. But what kind of smart may be vastly different. I love the book 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences by Thomas Armstrong. His theory of multiple intelligences transformed my thinking about what it means to be smart—because in our culture, the traditional way we view smart is very limited. And limiting. Our society values logical and verbal smarts while often overlooking all the other amazing attributes that make each of us truly gifted.
So, you wonder, what exactly are the types of smart?
• Word Smart – expressing verbal intelligence
• Picture Smart – thinking with your mind's eye
• Music Smart – Making the most of your melodic mind
• Body Smart – Using your kinesthetic intelligence
• Logic Smart – Calculating your mathematical and scientific abilities
• People Smart – Connecting with your social sense
• Self Smart – Developing your intrapersonal intellect
Oh, and he added two more in the revised edition: Nature Smart and Existence Smart, but stick with the list above and think about it for a minute. If you could get beyond your Myers-Briggs Personality and think about your wonderful type of smart (you'll have a mixture of many, but one will shine), how would that help you appreciate the world? Couldn't you see yourself being less self-critical?
Same with your kids. My oldest is off-the-charts on picture smarts. It's truly incredible, but it doesn't translate necessarily into SAT or ACT tests. Meanwhile, my youngest is the music and people smart guy, so he has a lot of trouble sitting still in school and following rules. My middle son is pure word, logic and body smart. He's the scholar athlete of the group, and he's got all the types valued in traditional society.
Think about at the office. It's never great to have your office physically divided with people smart people clustered together and logic smart people clustered together and kept apart. It inhibits the ability to learn from each other.
How can you better utilize the skills of each type of intelligence on your team—and celebrate them? As business moves to valuing emotional intelligence, creativity, intuition and team work, understanding yourself—The Real You and your particular brand of smart—makes sense. (Plus it bolsters your intrapersonal intellect.)
Cut throat competition is being replaced by collaboration and networking, giving, reaching out to others through an appreciation of their unique personal brands. To do that effectively, you need to know yourself. And, once you understand you and how truly smart you are, use that new lens to appreciate everybody around you just a little more.