IQ Plays Only Small Role in Our Success

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

People place a lot of importance on how "smart" or "dumb" everyone is.  We believe that superior intelligence brings extraordinary success.  According to this line of thinking, if you want to beat your competition, you have to be more intelligent than they are.

This, of course, is not true.  Our intelligence, or I.Q., as it is commonly referred to, plays only a small role in success.  Einstein said, "Imagination is everything."  Note he did not say that intelligence is everything.  And isn't the formula for genius 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration?  Do you believe that happiness is a product of intelligence or of emotional balance and wisdom?

There are many people in this world who are brilliant in their head.  They can render an incisive analysis of the most intricate subject in the world.  Give them the most difficult puzzle and they will solve it in a jiffy.  Ask them a question from Trivial Pursuit and they will provide you the answer before you complete the question.  Are they equally smart in getting along with others, building their careers or raising their families?

I have seen adults with superior I.Q.'s who act like 5-year-olds at the emotional level with little control over their tantrums.  They act on impulse without thinking of the consequences.  They leave a trail of enemies on every road they travel.  They may apologize for saying unthoughtful things, but it doesn't prevent them from making the same mistakes in the future.

They spend a lot of time in putting out the fires they started due to their impatience and emotional immaturity.  One can look at all that and wonder how could such smart people make such a mess of their lives.  It happens because they are intellectually "superior" but emotionally "retarded."  

The people who are only "head smart" spin their wheels and "heart smart" forge ahead in life.  Success in career, satisfaction in marriage and happiness in life is elusive for those who do not get the emotional education to get along with others in this world.  Some never learn to control their raw emotions.  They shoot from the hip and never think they have to change.  Some take delight in being "difficult" and unpredictable.  They like to do what feels good now rather than to work for future benefits, however promising they may be.

If the emotionally uneducated think about the cost they are paying for their lack of emotional "literacy," they can realize that it is not smart after tall to be the way they are.  Head smart is not enough; you have to be heart smart also.  Only emotionally poised people can be content and happy with themselves and earn the respect and love of others.

Emotional intelligence, among others, includes five major skills.  Questions listed under each skill will give you an idea of what each skill includes.

1.  Self observation skill:  How good are you in observing your own feelings and reactions?  Are you aware when you begin to get uptight?  Do you recognize when you are feeling sorry for yourself?

2.  Empathy and understanding of others;  Are you good at redoing other people's emotions and reactions?  Can you accurately put yourself in other people's shoes and realize what they must be feeling or thinking in response to what you are saying or doing?  Some people are so self-centered that they don't get to learn much about others.

3.  Control over emotions:  How well do you control your negative emotions?  Can you control your anger?  Can you keep your anxiety and worrying in check?  How well do you contain your excitement?

4.  Persistence and motivation:  How steadfastly do you pursue your goals in spite of the obstacle s and failures?  Do you get easily discouraged?  Do you remain optimistic in the face of setbacks?  Do you give up easily in the face of a disappointment?

5.  Social skills;  How well do you handle conflicts and upsets in your relationships?  Do you manage your relationships effectively?  How well do you listen to others?

All these skills can be developed.  Emotional wisdom and maturity can be acquired if one wants to and believes that one can.  It is in one's best interest to do so.  Daniel Goldman, who recently wrote the book "Emotional Intelligence," says that our E.Q. may be more important for success in life than our I.Q.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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