My Mercedes is bigger than yours (3)

Intelligence is creativity having fun    – Albert Einstein

I thought to rest this series last week. However, in the course of that week, a few ideas crossed my mind that I thought needed to be added. As I mentioned in the first part of the series, the spirit of competition is largely developed from home and through our educational system that evaluates the student and pitches him against others, using certain fixed parameters that simply end up making some appear like superstars while the others feel like dunces.

In 1983, an American developmental psychologist, Howard Gardener published his seminal book, “FRAMES OF MIND” in which he propounded the theory that there are nine intelligences by which you assess intellectual brilliance or genius.

The first of them is the Naturalist Intelligence. People with this type of intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to nature. Being nature-smart, they are comfortable relating with animals, plants, rocks and other natural phenomena. Their genius comes alive when they are surrounded by flora and fauna. Such people express themselves best through careers in Zoology, Botany and Geology.

Next is the sound-smart category which he calls Musical Intelligence. They derive their ultimate pleasure in rhythm, tone or pitch or any other musical sound. They capture sounds that others may miss. These people naturally create or reproduce music. They excel as singers, composers, music conductors or producers. In school, they remember facts that are set to music better than those expressed merely in words. It is not unusual for them to actually reduce what they are taught into music for ease of recall!

The third intelligence is the Logical-Mathematical. The genius of people in this category is seen in their love for calculations, scientific theories, hypotheses and mathematics. They make their connections using deductive and inductive thinking, sequential reasoning, experiments and statistics. They love graphs, charts and figures. They don’t express themselves in too many words when formulae would do.

People with Existential Intelligence are characterized by an acute sensitivity to life issues. They love to ask questions and seek answers to deep issues of life by interrogating the essence of life, existence and human evolution. They are “big picture” thinkers who, through critical thinking, seek to decode the line between cause and effect in creation and human conduct. Very often, they come across as aloof and withdrawn.

The people-smart ones are the ones who display Interpersonal Intelligence. Their high Emotional Quotient (EQ) makes them very comfortable interacting with others. As natural connectors, they can easily strike up conversations and build relational bridges.

The Bodily-Kinesthetic type have an uncanny capacity to forge an incredible harmony between their mind and their body. As such, they have the ability to manipulate objects and condition their body to do what was hitherto thought unthinkable. Have you seen contortionists who bend their bodies into all kinds of shape as if they had no bones? Or some dancers that keep you on the edge of your seat while doing their art? People with this intelligence are at their best as athletes, dancers, , craftsmen, jugglers etc.

Then you have the word-smart people who display the Linguistic/Literary Intelligence whose forte is words. Their mastery of language makes it easy for them to almost effortlessly express in simple terms otherwise complex meanings. They fully understand the nexus between words and meaning. Brilliant and incredibly graphic story-tellers, these people find their genius as poets, writers (usually of fiction), journalists and excellent public speakers.

Those who belong to the category of Intra-personal Intelligence are those who have, through a voyage of self-discovery become introspective and strongly aware of their own feelings. Through a high degree of self-mastery, they are able to project and plan a direction for their lives. They are not usually swayed by popular opinion once they are convinced about a line of action. Their self-awareness therefore becomes the basis for interpreting and understanding human conditions. They are usually very calculating and will pursue a line of action they have convictions about, sometimes without caring whose ox is gored, a situation that sometimes makes those who don’t understand them see them as snobbish or self-absorbed.

Finally, we have the picture-smart type whose category of genius is described as Spatial Intelligence. These ones are the 3D thinkers who only see and understand things in pictures. They may not absorb too many words but once they see something demonstrated or expressed in images, they never forget. Their operating platform is the space around them and the images therein. They are inherently artistic in nature and become highly successful as graphic artists because they can manipulate images and sceneries through spatial reasoning. They also excel as architects, sculptors. Their spare time is spent visualizing or sketching something. Jigsaw puzzles fascinate them to no end.

Every child, student or employee will come under one or more of these intelligences. The job of teachers, parents and superiors at work is to help the individual under their watch discover and excel in their own genius! When performance is not stereotyped, everyone shines.

Unfortunately, our educational system is skewed almost completely towards only two of these intelligences viz; the logical-mathematical and the linguistic. This is what straitjackets all students into the Sciences and Arts divides that run through all levels of academic pursuit, especially in the developing World. So anyone who goes through school and grows up not finding spectacular expression in the two intelligences is automatically labelled incapable of learning and goes through life believing the stupidity narrative. To become competitive and accepted, he struggles to seek excellence in what he is not suited for. Sometimes, he succeeds even if unhappy. But at other times, it only fuels his sense of frustration with a society that cannot help him discover and nurse his innate genius.

You may have been in this condition. The good news is that your exit key is in your hands. The beauty of a forest is not in the monotonous, even if arresting, shrill of the nightingale’s song. It’s in the melody and the rhythm produced by its combination with the guttural croaking of the bullfrog!

Look within. If you are the fish, stop entering for a tree-climbing competition. Remain the genius in the waters where you need no swimming lessons. The lion does not roar because it wants to command the attention and respect of the jungle. It commands the attention and respect of the jungle because it roars.

The stage is set – for you! The klieg lights are on you. The universe waits anxiously with bated breath on one hand and a generous reward in the other. You are here to perform, not to compete!

Behold your epiphany!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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