Cultivating Intrapersonal Intelligence. A guide to reaching your highest potential.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

In 1983, Howard Gardner proposed a groundbreaking theory that held that human beings are comprised of multiple types of intelligence. One of them is the following:

“Intrapersonal Intelligence: an understanding of one’s own emotions, ideas, motivations and self-reflections.” (Gardner 1983:18).

Gardner’s aim was to withdraw from archetypal notions of intelligence as purely rational and logical, all the while maintaining that rationality and IQ still have their respective places. The difference in his approach is that rational and logical intelligence would now be only a part of his multidimensional concept of human intelligence.

Many forms of intelligence

Of course, reason and logic cannot simply be swept under the carpet; they elevate us beyond mere impulsivity and allow us to plan and organize for the future in a way that most other animals and organisms seem to be unable to do. In Gardner’s proposition, intelligence is a multifaceted ecosystem where reason and logic reside beside Verbal Intelligence, Visual-Spatial Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, and Intrapersonal Intelligence.

Playing into your unique intelligence

If we take a moment to comprehend that each of us forms a unique elixir of intelligence and capabilities – only then we may appreciate and begin cultivating our respective intellectual strengths. Through practicing and developing your intrapersonal intelligence; i.e. learning about yourself, you can focus on activities and engagements that play into your individuated natural advantages.

As a result, you will naturally feel like being more engaged in the things that you do, which yields better results, more fulfillment, and ultimately a higher productivity rate – and who doesn’t want that?

In the following discussion, we will delve deeper into how you can understand your Intrapersonal Intelligence, and how you can use this to manage all the psychological add-ons that come with furnishing (new) projects. The spotlight will be on Intrapersonal Intelligence; or, as the Delphic maxim goes – “Know Thyself.”

What is intrapersonal intelligence, and how do we nurture it?

Intrapersonal Intelligence is an awareness of the key psychological components that make up who you are, namely:

  • Your emotional tendencies: are you short-tempered, altruistic, patient, many, or none of those things…?
  • Your motivations: are you more motivated by external or internal factors, i.e. do you want to impress those around you, or are you looking for self-fulfillment irrespective of others? What matters more to you, material or immaterial rewards? What role does money play in your understanding of success?
  • Your ideas: are you often thinking of inventive solutions? Are your inspiring ideas less creative, but more pragmatic in their approach? Do you think more productively in groups or alone?
  • Your self-reflections: do you give yourself adequate time to process events in your life? Are you kind to yourself, or do you see that as a weakness? Do you know what makes you most productive in day-to-day life, or what makes you feel calm when you flare up?

Cultivating Intrapersonal Intelligence starts with taking a magnifying glass to your emotional responses, motivations, ideas, and self-reflections. Understanding exactly what makes you tick and underpinning some consistent sources of enjoyment in your life is one imperative step towards a successful entrepreneurial trajectory.

How to start doing what you love

Now, people always say – do what you love – but there are two issues with that simple statement. First, most people fail to love their work, because they treat work as a means to an end and thus accept a low standard of enjoyment for it. Second, most people don’t even know what they really love doing in the first place because they haven’t taken the time to learn and reflect on the matter.

The way to nurture your intrapersonal intelligence and have a heightened awareness of your internal processes is quite basic… Take a moment to actually notice yourself in the world. For example, if I enjoy team sports and constantly flourish in them, there is an element of me that flourishes in competitive group environments. If both team and solo sports are similarly successful and enjoyable for me, I can infer that I find pleasure in the mixture of both groups and solo competitive environments.

Despite all this seeming quite obvious, most people (myself included) often look to others for affirmation of our own abilities. However, only within ourselves we can feel when we truly feel fulfilled. We know when we enjoy something and we know when we are good at it. This self-awareness forms the key to steering our career in a manner that will yield the most success, both on a professional and on a personal level.

Finding your own way

One alluring aspect of Gardner’s approach is that it can explain why people thrive in different fields of life, while also providing a framework for education and self-analysis that can help people reach their highest potential. The purpose of this intelligence in business is to direct yourself towards the most auspicious opportunities based on your unique intelligence.

It’s tricky growing up and being told, mostly via grades in school, that “in this is you excel” (A+), “in that you are average” (C-), and “in these things, you fail” (F). These things invariably sculpt our motivations and engagements for the future, but they do not necessarily prove anything. They merely imply that through one specific grading and learning system, you have achieved those specific outcomes at that very moment. If we do not take the time to self-reflect and build a working relationship with ourselves, these grades may become the definitive measure of our abilities and, accordingly, our future.

Enterprise according to your personal wishes and desires

The point that I am meandering around here is very simple. Each of us must take time to understand our personal capabilities, weaknesses and strengths in a manner that factors our school grades and qualifications, but does not restrict expectations of ourselves to those things alone.

When you begin your entrepreneurial journey, you’re taking a significant step in the direction of a more self-governed lifestyle. It’s just you and your aspirations up against a world that competes for every fractal of success, so you better be sure of what you’re pursuing. If your venture doesn’t compliment your personal strengths, there’s a long, hard, and unpleasant road ahead of you.

The takehome message here is that we cannot settle for a translucent understanding of our own “emotions, ideas, motivations and self-reflections”; the reason being is that they underpin the very foundation of our vast potential and future success. These things are the raw fuels that motivate most human behavior; thus, understanding and utilizing them is the first step in carving out a successful pathway. To understand these elements of your character is what defines Intrapersonal Intelligence.

Intrapersonal Intelligence for startuppers

After explaining all this, I must acknowledge that the appreciation of other people’s feedback is important. However, if you’re thinking of taking the entrepreneurial route, a large portion of your initial time and efforts will be spent alone. Therefore, directing and motivating yourself exempt from the scrutiny of others becomes a vital, necessary facet of success.

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough in the entrepreneurial world. Choosing the right field of work through the application Intrapersonal Intelligence implies that the environment in which you work is complementary to your skills and ambitions. As a result, your efforts will be most rewarding, and pleasurable while your at it.

Fundamentally, if you direct yourself towards your individuated skillset and pursue those things which make you feel fulfilled, the whole process of work changes. You will find meaning and value in your venture, you’ll work harder because it’s something that you enjoy, and you’ll do better because it’s something your good at!