Chapter 2 of the Book

Lesson 6 Chapter 1 Module 3

The Whole of You

This chapter explores the fact that intelligence is about the whole of you.

I first encountered the idea of personal development in the 1960s, when I read the Tao Te Ching. In one of life’s many strange coincidences, the translator, Professor D C Lau, turned out to be my future wife’s godfather! 

An accompanying video - a conversation with Chris Thomson. 

I found the book very attractive, partly because it was elusive and mysterious, but mainly because I wanted to be the character described in the book. It was only years later that I realised why. It was because he (she) was a complete, well-rounded human being. 

I also realised that I had come across this before, in other places. It was the idea of “Renaissance Man” and the “chivalrous knight” – a person who was well-developed in all senses. Physically, he was healthy, fit and competent. He knew how to survive and how to fight, for example. Mentally, he was obviously a clear thinker, because he took good decisions. And he knew how to use the language well. In those days, a warrior was expected to be a poet, if not a composer! Emotionally, he was kind and empathic – courteous to women and to his enemies - what we today would call “emotionally intelligent”. But his qualities went far beyond these, for he was also spiritually aware, and paid serious attention to his spiritual practices and development. In short, he attended to the whole of himself.

Do you attend to the whole of yourself? If so, how?

And do you bring the whole of yourself to your life and work?

Such people seem to be rare these days. We live in an age of extreme specialisation. Gone is the era of the intelligent generalist, which was common when I was young. And it shows. The lack of well-rounded, whole people is reflected in the state of society. We are going through a very embarrassing moment of dumbing down and infantilism. Political correctness, “snowflakes”, “Twitter storms”, and voting for dangerous, narcissistic Presidents are but a few of the many signs of this. You can no doubt think of more. 

In fact, it would be a useful exercise to do this

It can be no coincidence that large numbers of people are getting involved in a wide variety of trainings. All of them have the same underlying theme: “bring back common sense – all is forgiven!” 

You have probably guessed that I am leading up to something. It is the fact that intelligence is about the whole of you. It is not just about your mind, important as this is. And it is not just about your feelings, which are equally important. In keeping with the ideal of the well-rounded human being, intelligence is about all aspects of your behaviour and all aspects of you. Being intelligent in only one or two respects will take you only so far in life. You are unlikely to fulfil your potential, if you are not growing in the fullest sense. If you really want to live the fullest life, and leave a useful legacy, then you need to develop and use the whole of you. But what does this mean in practice?

What do you think it means? Have you an image of a well-rounded person?

Intelligence really is about the whole of you. It covers all aspects of you – the physical, the mental, the emotional, but other aspects, too, such as the intuitive, the social and the spiritual. Each of these aspects is reflected in a form of intelligence.

You almost certainly know something about mental intelligence, and you have probably heard of emotional intelligence. But do you know anything about physical intelligence, or intuitive intelligence, or social intelligence, or spiritual intelligence? Taken together, these six forms of intelligence cover the many different ways we think, feel and behave. I think of them as the full spectrum of intelligence. It will say a few words about each of them.

The best-known form is undoubtedly mental intelligence. It is what IQ tests attempt to measure. And it is what we normally think of as intelligence. Our typical image of an “intelligent” person is that he or she is intellectual, brainy, smart, and possibly academic. The famous photo of Albert Einstein could well be our archetype of intelligence. Yet, here is the odd thing. Einstein was intelligent in some respects, but not in others. There is little doubt that he excelled in the narrow part of the intelligence spectrum that we call “intellect”. It was this that enabled him to create his Special and General Theories, which radically changed science. 

However, when we look at some other parts of the spectrum of intelligence, Einstein falls short. Indeed, his turbulent relationships with women suggest that he would score poorly in emotional intelligence. This may have true for his social intelligence too. He was not generally good with people. That said, from all accounts – and there are some very good biographies of Einstein – I believe that he would probably score high in intuitive intelligence. I say this because he clearly allowed his (rational) scientific work to be guided by his (non-rational) intuition. This is very evident when you read his books and monographs.

What all this is telling us is that we need to be very careful before deciding that someone is intelligent (or not). We often jump to the conclusion that someone is intelligent, just because he or she has a PhD, or speaks Latin, or has a wide vocabulary. The fact is that we cannot really know whether someone is intelligent until we get to know them well, and have observed their behaviour over a period of time. Behaviour is the key indicator. Always keep this in mind. Meanwhile, back to mental intelligence. What exactly is it?

What do you think it is?

If you consult the Internet or dictionaries, you will find many definitions. They tend to emphasise the intellectual component, as if the intellect were the whole mind, which it is not. I have found it helpful to define it in a way that helps you to work on it. For me, your mental intelligence is “the state of your mind and the way you use it”. Obviously, if your mind is in a good state and you use it well, you will be mentally intelligent. When I say a “good state”, I mean that your mind should be clear, strong, open and creative. In my book Deep Intelligence, I go into detail on how you can improve the state of your mind and the way you use it. Here are a few questions for you. Is your mind clear and uncluttered? Do you have a strong mind, able to concentrate, and able to stand its ground under pressure? How well do you use it? For example, are you able to solve and avoid problems? Do you communicate effectively? Do you create useful things and ideas?

What is your response to these questions? If the answer is mostly or all yes, then you are mentally intelligent

Emotional intelligence has become relatively well-known in the last few decades. Although it has been defined in many ways, I prefer to think of it as “knowing feelings, and managing them well.” As you can see, this also has the advantage of telling you what you need to work on. How well do you know feelings, and how well do you manage them? Again, I covered this fully in my book. For the moment, I just want to make one point. Emotional intelligence is very much about mirroring each other. Whatever emotional issues we have, we inevitably project these on to other people. We unconsciously assume that they have what we have. Indeed, this unconscious two-way projection is at the root of most unhealthy relationships. This suggests that the starting point for working on your emotional intelligence is to identify and work through your own issues, whatever they happen to be. It is often something that originated in early childhood, such as lack of self-worth, anger at being abused in some way, or emotionally abandoned.

Do you have any emotional issues? What are you doing to address them?

I define intuitive intelligence as “knowing without knowing how you know.” All of us have intuitive experiences, probably more often than we realise. But because we live in times with a strong emphasis on the need for concrete evidence and rational explanations, we do not rely on our intuition as much as we could. That is a pity because it can give us access to useful information that we would otherwise miss or ignore. As I will show in Chapter 5, intuition is not a “gift” available only to the few. It is available to all of us, and there are many things we can do to improve it and use it effectively.

Social intelligence has also become quite well known. There are many ways of understanding it. The one I like best is Karl Albrecht’s definition: “the ability to get along well with others, and to get them to cooperate with you.” I would add only one small thing – it is also about getting other people to cooperate with each other. Good social intelligence surely has to rank as one of the top skills for any manager or leader, indeed for all of us.

Do you get on well with people? Do you normally know what they need?

Perhaps you have heard of spiritual intelligence, but you are not sure what it is. If so, you are not alone, and this is possibly because there are so many different opinions. I have my own definition, which is based on what we will be looking at in the next chapter, “the intelligence process”. I define spiritual intelligence as “the ability to go beyond normal awareness, normal understanding and normal behaviour.” As you can imagine, this is a very big topic that covers a lot of ground. I will devote a whole book to it.

We will be looking at one other form of intelligence, in Chapter 4. I call it physical intelligence, and I define it as “knowing your body, and using it wisely and well”. In my view, it is the foundation of all the other intelligences because it is about basic awareness through your five senses, and about your ability to respond effectively to anything, by using your body.

Although I have written about the six intelligences as if they were separate from each other, this is simply for convenience. In reality, they are intimately connected to each other, as if they were a single “super-intelligence”. They all influence each other. For example, when you exercise your body, by going for a run or doing a workout, you usually feel better afterwards, and you often find that you can think more clearly. Working on your physical intelligence has enhanced both your emotional and your mental intelligence. When things are going well at work, and everybody is cooperating with each other and with you (social intelligence), other aspects of your life seem to go more smoothly. When you work on any one of your intelligences, all the others are enhanced in some way. 

However, the converse is also true. If any of your intelligences is in poor shape, this will tend to drag down all the others. Just think about how things are when you feel low. Nothing seems to go well. You cannot think clearly (mental). You cannot relate well (social and emotional). And you have no energy (physical). It is for this reason that I recommend working on yourself in a balanced, integrated way, so as to avoid the possibility of some of your intelligences going too far ahead of the others, or falling too far behind. I will give you a structure and process for doing this in the next chapter.

Powered by Thrive Apprentice