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Why Intelligence Isn't Enough
Over the past couple of weeks, I was bombarded with this quote on social media (often attributed to Elon Musk, but many people have said it before):
Never confuse education with intelligence. You can have a Bachelor’s degree and still be an idiot.
Living through a time where almost every opinion is an intelligence test in itself, I wanted to think through what intelligence means to me.
It all started with IQ
A general definition of intelligence widely reads as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills” and is often measured in the form of a so-called “IQ,” short for Intelligence Quotient, as a measure of a person's reasoning ability.
It is supposed to gauge how well someone can use information and logic to answer questions or make predictions and is expressed in a value that can be calculated with the formula of:
IQ = (intelligence age/actual age) x 100
Thus, the mental age of a person is compared to the person's chronological age, which is why IQ tests are adjusted for age.
Intelligence is more than IQ
Even within an IQ context, intelligence has many more moving parameters than age. For instance, intellect and intuition are both of critical importance when trying to measure intelligence. For me:
Intellect = knowing the known vs.
Intuition (here) = knowing the unknown.
Perhaps, we need a new definition of intelligence.
The ability to bring knowledge of the unknown in context with knowledge of the known (at a conscious level), paired with the ability to express the same clearly, is intelligence. - Toby Ruckert
Another problem is the term “quotient,” a Latin word meaning "how many times," so when we divide numbers the answer is called the quotient. But as mentioned earlier, the branches of intelligence are many. Measuring “real intelligence” would require a far more complex algorithm than the ones used in today’s common IQ tests, as only when we consider all branches of intelligence, we will get some representation of a real IQ.
This poses several questions:
Should intelligence include knowledge from “within” even if not [perhaps yet] known [or accepted] by the broader public/world?
Who will define the branches of intelligence? How to know whether they are complete?
What about historical or scientific “facts”? Should those which are written in books overrule an innermost sense of truth? After all, history books have been rewritten many times by the respective winners, and science is constantly in motion with discoveries made daily.
Then there is EQ (or “Emotional Quotient”) which has substantial validity even when controlling for IQ and personality.
But what is “emotion” in the first place? Certainly, empathy plays a key role in this form of “emotional intelligence,” particularly when dealing with each other, but there are many more aspects to consider, such as moods, feelings (e.g., so-called sixth sense), etc.
Speaking more abstractly, “e-motion” is a directional movement (motion), driven and accelerated by energy (e). It enables us to access memories from the past as well as generate a new force from feeling, e.g. when envisioning a future potentiality. The ability to navigate a path, while managing one's moods and subtle levels of fears is for me what makes emotional intelligence so hard to measure.
Also, emotion is very different from being emotional. Emotional Intelligence is a link to time and a driver to successfully take us into the future while protecting and guiding us along the way. It plays a vital role in creativity and innovation, especially in collaborative environments.
Combining IQ + EQ already yields a much more accurate representation for “real intelligence” and also increases the chances of succeeding at a particular opportunity. The venture capital industry should take a deep look at a team’s combined IQs + EQs when evaluating the chances for a successful return of capital. Much less value (both lifetime and monetary capital!) would have been lost over the years.
In this respect, AQ is probably even the most important when it comes to evaluating success chances.
The definition of AQ is simply “Adversity Quotient.” Adversity is described in many ways, but I like how Angela Lee compares it to IQ and grit:
The ability to overcome the obstacles that seem to be facing us and even utilizing them as an opportunity to grow (by looking at them either as a signpost or as fuel for the mission), is what makes AQ so powerful. On the surface, it looks like it’s less linked to intelligence, but as most people give up just as they’re about to achieve success (and one can never really know when that is), it does make up the ultimate difference between success or failure and must be considered of critical relevance within the context of “real intelligence.”
Intelligent people use adversities as way finders. A firmly closed door could conceal huge value and is usually locked up for a reason. Opening it can be painful and often causes great disruption — for better or worse. The ability, therefore, to combine IQ and EQ with AQ is important, as no matter how big one’s resilience, we can only run through a brick wall so often.
Adverse reactions from others can also be used to re-fuel ourselves. Every successful artist or entrepreneur knows this. The more people say it can’t be done, the bigger the opportunity and/or the more fun to prove them wrong.
Surprisingly, not only the seeming negatives are considered a part of adversity. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the good things that happen, the successes and the positive developments, can block real intelligence just as much. With a rising ego, brilliance falls. The biggest adversity one can meet is one's ego.
The Ideal Quotient
While writing I realized I’m far off finding an algorithm or quotient for “real intelligence,” but I’m convinced we should stop using IQ tests and must instead consider at least IQ + EQ + AQ as a combination when evaluating intelligence.
When evaluating the chances for success of a particular venture, we could match the problem statements and challenges of the mission with the available combination of IQ + EQ + AQ at the applicable proportions, thereby increasing the probability of success, including sustained success over time.
Words often tell what they mean if we make an effort to parse their syllables. For instance, the word “intelligence” could be split into in-tell-ligence, whereas di-ligence means „constant and earnest effort to accomplish something“.
To me, intelligence is nothing but the ability to from withIN (by combining known and unknown knowledge and bringing it into context) TELL (the ability to express and communicate) with di-LIGENCE (applying constant and earnest effort).
Just like we shouldn’t confuse education with intelligence, perhaps we shouldn’t confuse IQ with intelligence and the ability to successfully deliver something.
As always, I look forward to learning from your perspectives. What do you think defines "real intelligence"?
Photo by Pixabay
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