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What Kind of Intelligent Are You?


I’ve always felt that my particular skill sets are clearly defined. I’m excellent at rhetoric and expression when it comes to the written word, but pretty much lousy when it comes to speeches or any other kind of oral communication. I can play musical instruments, in the sense that I know the notes and can master the finger techniques, but tone means absolutely nothing to me. I do great on the math and language portions of standardized testing, but once you start throwing those flattened dice and space manipulation problems at me, my mind disintegrates. (Case in point: I have yet to figure out how our city’s main parking garage has two up routes and two down routes that never get in the way of each other. How can that be?)

Since the number of my inabilities has always been pretty proportionate to the number of my abilities, it’s never been something that weighed heavily on my mind. I simply crossed motivational speaker, piano tuner, and architect off my list of potential careers. Lucky for me, writing presented itself as a viable choice, and I’ve been running with it ever since. I’m not alone in my love of fairness and balance when it comes to intellect. About a decade ago, researchers at Harvard University came up with the theory that there are actually eight different types of “intelligence.” These cover a wide range of abilities and strengths so that no one gets left out.

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence        

As the name implies, this type of intelligence has to do with words-both written and verbal. It’s about sending and receiving messages through language.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

This type of intelligence has to do with numbers, patterns, and logic. It includes problem solving and attention to detail.        

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

This is the ability to construct mental images and understand how parking garages work.

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence      

Although the “intellectual” side of this category deals with dance and imagination, it’s also the category for athletes and people with coordination skills (sadly, another of my un-strengths).

Musical Intelligence

This is basically rhythm and tone. The technical side of music largely falls in the mathematical category; this is more about understanding music on a deeper level.

Interpersonal Intelligence  

This takes verbal and linguistic intelligence to the next level (the level that eludes me). It’s about communicating with people through more than just words. It uses feelings, motivation, and a deeper human understanding. Think televangelists.  

Intrapersonal Intelligence  

This intelligence is about reaching deep inside oneself and understanding the world through that construct. Emotions and self-reflection are important.

Naturalist Intelligence

This type of intelligence is about understanding the natural world, including plants and animals. It branches off mathematical intelligence in that it uses classification and organization.

These categories provide much food for thought. Some of them (ahem…naturalist…ahem) seem like a bit of a stretch, maybe a way to make sure everyone has at least one category of his or her own. Others are excellent ways of validating skill sets that don’t fall under the traditional theories of intelligence.

As freelance writers, I’m pretty sure all of us feel like we rate pretty high on the verbal/linguistic category. Freelance designers or consultants might find themselves higher up a different food chain. But none of us is restricted to just one. We can excel at two or three of them and suck at the rest (*Tamara raises hand*). We can do moderately well in most of them. Some of us might even be crazy-skilled in them all.

It all comes down to realizing that no one is stuck behind just one fence. Just as there are different types of intelligence, there are different types of professional and personal opportunities based on where your intelligence may lie.

So, what kind of intelligent are you?   

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    On December 5th, 2007 at 11:11 pm, Laura said:

    Thank you so much for publishing this! This is one of the most important things that I’ve learned as a parent, and it’s helped me in business too. What helps one child learn does not necessarily work for another.

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