The 3 forms of intelligence you really need to succeed in life

How well did you do at school?

Were you a straight A student, did you struggle to get through or were you somewhere in between?

Many people believe that their academic achievements or the type of job they have are the main indicators of how smart they are — and therefore, how successful they’ll be.

In fact, your IQ score or academic results are only a part of your overall intelligence and they certainly aren’t the only ways of measuring your success. As a society, we are slowly learning that our ability to understand our thought processes, emotions and how we relate to others count far more towards how successful we are as people. What’s more, these are skills that can be learned and developed with practice.

Simon Madden

Simon Madden

What is the voice inside your head saying?

Have you ever paid attention to your thought patterns?

It’s a good idea to stop and really listen to your internal word choices and emotions and reflect on your beliefs as these are the driving force behind your actions — whether you realise it or not.

Former elite AFL footballer, Simon Madden, has also had vast experience in business and he is passionate about helping others reach their full potential through self-awareness. In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, Madden spoke of his belief that self-awareness and self-actualisation are critical to our ability to function effectively. We need to take the time to assess ourselves so we can catch our negative self-talk and learn to speak to ourselves in a positive manner instead.

“There are lots of voices who influence you, but the only voice you listen to is the one in your head. All the other voices influence that one. What you say to yourself, about yourself when you are by yourself is the main voice that you listen to.”

If we regularly think things like, “I’m not good enough” or “That’s too hard. I can’t do that”, then that’s what we end up believing and we don’t give ourselves the chance to do better. However, if we take a different mindset and deliberately choose more positive thoughts such as, “I believe I could learn how to do that” or “I’ve succeeded at something similar in the past, I can do this too”, then we build our self-confidence and are more likely to get a positive result.

This does not mean you can’t be realistic, though, just that you need to keep your thoughts in perspective. Gregory Jantz explained this further in his article The Power of Positive Self-Talk for Psychology Today Australia.

“Positive self-talk is not self-deception.  It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see.  Rather, positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself.  One of the fundamental truths is that you will make mistakes.  To expect perfection in yourself or anyone else is unrealistic.  To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstances, is also unrealistic.”

Emotional intelligence (EQ)

Having a strong sense of self-awareness is also an important part of your emotional intelligence. EQ also encompasses your levels of emotional control and self-motivation as well as your empathy and relationship skills. It refers to your ability to pick up clues about how other people around you are feeling right now.

These clues often include a person’s facial expressions, level of body tension and their tone of voice. The better you are at interpreting these clues, the more you can adapt your behaviour accordingly. Good leaders, for example, can change their approach by watching the reaction of others when talking to them and modify their own word choices and body language to achieve better outcomes.

EQ is also about being aware of how your thoughts and actions influence others. Are you a negative influence on their self-talk? How well do you manage your emotions and how does that affect the people around you?

Social intelligence (SQ)

Social intelligence requires you to use your EQ skills to think ahead. You use what you know about other people’s personalities and preferences to plan your own actions as much as possible beforehand to help achieve the best outcomes.

Social intelligence has always been important, but it is becoming even more so in the workplace as everything becomes more team-focused. Those with lots of technical or practical experience don’t necessarily make the best leaders. Madden also stressed the increasing need for social intelligence skills during his interview:

“That strength of personal interaction and being able to understand and work with people will become even more important. How you relate with people, how you motivate people, how you become interdependent (with people) will become more and more important.”

The influence of artificial intelligence and robotics will make future work fascinating. True, machines can do many wonderful things much faster than humans and they will continue to replace many functional jobs. However, machines lack self-awareness and social intelligence. They can predict outcomes based on past experiences and respond to certain facial or vocal cues, but they can’t use intuition or sense when you are having a bad day. The people that have very strong interpersonal skills are the ones that are more likely to continue to have rewarding work.

On a personal level, focusing on positive self-talk and constantly working on your people skills will always take you much further in life than IQ alone. These are things you have control over so why not make the most of them?

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Simon Madden has a unique outlook on what it takes to be successful. He played 378 AFL games for the Essendon Football Club, was Victorian and club captain, played in two premiership teams and was selected as an All Australian on multiple occasions.

Madden is currently a director of the Essendon Football Club board and has also had extensive television, radio, public speaking and presenting experience. He is regularly sought after by various organisations for his views on life, business and sport. You can hear more of Madden’s story in his podcast interview on The Mentor List. You’re bound to pick up many of his tips for success, too.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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