I’ve long believed that entrepreneurs are different. We all know successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of school, and people with high IQs that cannot manage a business. I used to call this “street smarts,” but recently I found a better explanation, called multiple intelligences. Successful entrepreneurs always seem to have several good intelligences.
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed way back in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, at Harvard University. He suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, called the Intelligent Quotient (IQ), is far too limited. Instead, he now has broad acceptance for at least eight different intelligences that cover a broad range of human potential. These include:
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”). Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence, most evident in poets and novelists. It is also evident in entrepreneurs writing good business plans and convincing investors.
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”). Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, sensitivity to moods and temperaments, and the ability to understand multiple perspectives. Entrepreneurs particularly need interpersonal intelligence.
- Intra-personal intelligence (“self-smart”). Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and to use such knowledge in planning and strategy. Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self but also of the human condition. It is evident in psychologists, spiritual leaders, and business leaders.
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”). Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills. This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind-body union. Inventors and people providing mechanical products need this intelligence.
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”). Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, and think logically. This intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, technologists, and computer programmers, and is usually associated with traditional IQ.
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”). Designates the human ability to discriminate among living things as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world. I believe that good entrepreneurs use this to discriminate among consumer needs, and pick the most marketable products to offer.
- Musical intelligence (“musical smart”). Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone. This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music interests and needs, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners.
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”). Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions. Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination. Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence. It’s easy to see how this is important to entrepreneurs.
Robert L Schwarz once said “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and an actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.” That’s a combination of intelligences many people don’t have. If you have it, flaunt it, and enjoy your successes.