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How are you smart?

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I was introduced to Neuroscience in the 2nd year of my university studies. Since then, I have had an ‘itch’ to know more about it. So last year, I enrolled in an Introduction to Neuroscience course to satisfy this ‘itch’.

The course covered elements of Neuro-Anatomy, Neuro-Physiology, Neuro-Psychology, Quantitative Electro Encephalogram, Biofeedback and the Neuroscience of Learning.

The aim of the course is to give students an overview of the effect that the interconnection of brain wiring, physiological responses, the external environment have on our personality and behaviour towards life situations. More importantly, the course provides knowledge and techniques on things that one can do to improve brain performance i.e. increase your brain-fitness.

As intriguing as all the other course modules were, the one that struck me the most was Neuroscience of Learning, which maps out your individual Brain Profile. In a portion of the module, they unpack your individual brain inclination. They claim that the question as it relates to intelligence is no longer “Am I smart or dumb?”, the appropriate question to ask is “How am I smart?”. They make the assumption that we are all smart – just in different ways; we are all wired differently and as a consequence we have different inclinations.

An interesting key feature of this module is a “How am I smart?” self-assessment. This assessment seeks to map out your specific intelligence inclination (preference). They assess you across the following intelligence types:

  • Traditional IQ – Logical/Mathematical (e.g. Scientists), Linguistic (e.g. Writers) Spatial/Visual (e.g. Architects)
  • Bodily Intelligence (BI) – Physical/Kinaesthetic (e.g. Sports people), Sensory (e.g. Chefs)
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Intrapersonal/Self (e.g. Psychologists), Interpersonal/Social (e.g. Teachers)
  • Spiritual Intelligence (SI) – Creative (e.g. Entrepreneurs), Musical (e.g. Musicians), Naturalistic (e.g. Biologists) and Spiritual (e.g. Pastors)

In my self-assessment I scored high on EQ, but scored low on IQ – the latter of which is generally seen as the superior assessment of intelligence. The question I posed to myself was- does this mean I am dumb because I am not mathematically inclined? My answer- of course not.  I am fortunate enough to have chosen a career path that does not necessarily require traditional IQ, but requires high levels of EQ. Therefore, I am absolutely suited in my “intelligence” to carry out my role.

The nugget of wisdom I wish to convey is this, too often society dictates that we need to be mathematically inclined to be successful in life. I say we are all wired differently, and have within us a different purpose to fulfil. We cannot all be doctors, nor can we all be entrepreneurs. God has placed within us different inclinations that are linked to His purpose for our lives. It may be cliché, but one should truly do what they love. Not only will you be happier following your natural, God-planted, inclination but you can also be very successful. You also do not need to complete this assessment to know what you love to do, just be true to yourself. The assessment merely confirmed what I already knew about myself.

So, how are you smart?

About the writer:

Lihle is a daughter of the most High God – Jehovah. She is a Change Management specialist who is passionate about Organisational Development and fascinated by Neuro-Psychology. She holds an honours degree in Industrial Psychology. She enjoys musical theatre and outdoor adventure games. She is principled, values spending time with her family and friends. She is pragmatic, empathetic and caring.

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Do you believe in change? Yes, isn’t a good enough answer.

We have heard some interesting and powerful quotes about change. Some of the ones that stand out for me are:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

But as I was reflecting on my experiences both in the work setting and personal space, I just felt that the below image captured human behaviour in the context of change.

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The image above captures visually some of the frustrations that I have encountered working with various teams and leaders in different organisations. As a Change Management Specialist, it’s so amazing how many organisations and leaders can say all the amazing and ‘right’ things about how much they believe in change as block one of the image illustrates.

But block two of the image is where you able to separate the sheep from the goats. It’s shocking how people will say all the right things about wanting to change and improve their environments, but as soon as that very change requires them as individuals to change, suddenly people begin to resist. It’s easy for people to want everyone else to change and the environment to change but they themselves are unwilling to change. I suspect that the reason why many projects/ideas that pertain to change don’t always become successful is this issue. Imagine this, if we have an organisation of 50 people and 48 of those are thinking in the above manner, surely nothing will change because you are waiting for the next person and the next person is waiting for the next and so forth.

Block three of the image is perhaps the most eye watering, again some in leadership positions will say the most beautiful things about change, but when you want to engage them further so that they play a leading role in advocating for the change, they are MIA! (Missing in Action).

Simple examples include leaders who don’t respond to your emails, leaders who don’t make time to come to meetings where key decisions need to be made, leaders who play the blame game instead of coming up with solutions, leaders who are constantly “busy” sitting in meetings but with no value add, the list is endless.

I think we can come to a common agreement that anything that doesn’t change eventually dies. Even in our own lives it is eye watering to see how many people say they believe in change but do nothing to improve their lives. There are even instances where change knocks on people’s lives because it’s such an inevitable process and yet still people resist.

I don’t think we should view believing in change as a feel good ‘mantra’. Even in the political scene everyone will be chanting about the ‘dawn of a new day’ when new reign of power ascends the stage. But I am always left in wonder post the charismatic feel good speeches and I always want to truly know, does this leader really believe in change. And the Yes answer doesn’t fully satisfy me. I think most people will relate and say over and above the yes, can we see leaders taking accountability for the things they have said, can they practice daily that which they preach? can there be less elaborate talk and more elaborate action?

You see my friend the proverb remains relevant even today – “Action speaks louder than words!”

In the quest for the spectacular don’t lose sight of the subtle daily wins…

We are living in very interesting times with so much access to information and amazing progress by mankind. We witness this progress through technological advancements, human rights movements, business expansion, and so much more. Though these are awesome components of our society, one must admit that they also come with a hefty price tag on the soul. What do I mean by this? Well, in my conversations and observations I have noticed that the pursuit for bigger and better things may cause us to undermine the entire human experience.

In a recent conversation I was having with a dear friend of mine we laughed about this; “over romanticising” of a “spectacular end goal”. Our conversation centred around the idea that so often in our generation everyone is overly ambitious and that’s a beautiful thing, but you find that people don’t live in the NOW, they live fixated on their end goal.

It seems like people are saying to themselves “I will only fully start experiencing the whole human journey when I reach this particular milestone in my life” and I think that can be a ‘dangerous’ way to view the world.

It’s dangerous in a sense that, firstly tomorrow is not promised to anyone, we truly don’t know if we will be alive tomorrow. Secondly, we can undermine other very important aspects of our human development like; spiritual growth, social and romantic relationships, health matters, intellectual expansion etc.

Even in the business world we become so focused on waiting for financial year end to celebrate the previous year’s achievements and we often overlook progress in the quick daily wins. Yes, making profit is a spectacular end and the desired outcome of any business, but in pursuit of that, how about taking a pause and applauding things like fostering a great business culture, implementing all the great ideas and projects well, empowering leaders to do their jobs successfully and that the company values are not just words on a wall but that they lived daily by people in the organisation.

In the words of India Arie,

Life is a journey,
Not a destination,
There are no mistakes,
Just chances we’ve taken
Lay down your regrets cause all we have is now

I am by no means discounting long term goal achievement, but I am just advocating that there is a lot of progress that happens daily that we should celebrate.

Great men are a rare species…

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 across numerous nations in the world. International Men’s Day is celebrated annually on November 19 in just over 60 countries of the world.

According to the UN there are 195 countries in the world and it’s interesting to note that of these 195, the number that commemorates Men’s day is significantly lower than the number that commemorate Women’s day.

In my own country South Africa, we have a national holiday, August 9 where we take time to celebrate the amazing women of South Africa. But I don’t recall a national holiday to celebrate the amazing men of our country.

I am aware that there will be various arguments that may rise to challenge the statement above. One of the biggest arguments surrounding this is the fact that since the beginning of time, men have dominated every sphere of society and whether we want to admit it or not, even our “modern” society is still built to support men.

Even many religious practices and teachings have been wrongly presented and largely favour the patriarchal agenda.

However, it’s also encouraging to note the great work that has been done to redress the gender/sex issue through movements like feminism, which have their early traces in the 1800s and have significantly evolved into various expressions today.

In South Africa, there are various initiatives to support the girl child and numerous women empowerment initiatives. This is amazing progress for a world that has favoured men for thousands of years. However, I really believe that our generation faces an interesting dichotomy. This dichotomy finds expression in a conversation I was having with a dear friend of mine.

As someone who works closely with young people, my friend echoed her worries on the “over” focus on the girl child, to a point of “neglect” of the boy child. This over focus is leading us into another risk where women are raised to be strong and fully empowered and the men are just left without being empowered with the “right” tools to fully compliment the women to build each other and build our societies together.

I fully understand the continuous effort of building the girl child because of the harsh injustices of the past, but what I am merely also advocating for is; let us not neglect the boy child because if we do we will continue to create an imbalanced society in which one sex is supreme than the other and we will be no different from the oppressive systems that we are challenging. We need great men in our generation and campaigns like #menaretrash don’t help much. We need the full strength of both genders to make our societies great.

There are many great men and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by some in my life and though my writings are about uncovering wisdom in everyday life, I thought let me pause and honour the rare species of great men. I really want to honour them in this piece, though they are indeed a rare species, but none the less when great men show up and they fully take their place, it is an absolute work of art to witness.

To my Daddy, I am the woman that I am today because of your constant unconditional love, you always encourage and believe in me even more than I believe in myself. To my four brothers, I “dig” you guys, your love, your support, your giving and over protection is truly remarkable. My cousin brother whose kindness knows no bounds.

To all my male friends, though you all different in many ways but I love how you show up in the world living a deliberate purposeful life, serving, giving, protecting, loving and so much more…

To my spiritual Fathers, thank you for surrendering your lives for a much greater cause.


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