When people want to find out a person’s intelligence, they have that individual take an IQ test. If they didn’t score high on the test, then that must mean they’re not smart, right?
Robert Sternberg, a renowned American psychologist and psychometrician, theorized that intelligence isn’t a singular trait. This means that you and everybody else should not look at IQ as the only measure of intelligence.
Sternberg says that intelligence consists of three types: analytical, practical and experiential. These different types of intelligence gauge the ability of the brain to manage and identify various types of challenges in life.
We’re going to take a look at practical intelligence — and find out why you need this type of intelligence to succeed as an entrepreneur.
What is Practical Intelligence?
The definition of practical intelligence is the ability to adapt easily and think quickly. Some people associate this term with “street smarts” and “common sense.” When you possess practical intelligence, you can think on your feet in everyday dilemmas that need immediate solutions.
Practical intelligence also helps embrace challenges on the fly and navigate difficult situations. Those with practical intelligence are reflexive and adaptive. They change their approach to fulfill the requirements of the situation and environment.
What’s more, people with strong intelligence stand out from the rest of the pack. You can translate this form of intelligence as social savvy — the ability to build a good rapport and communicate well with teams. You likely have a high level of intelligence if you can foster a sense of camaraderie with people.
The Relationship Between Practical Intelligence and Business Success
If you want to succeed in your business, you’ll need more than just an entrepreneurial spirit. You also need to have high levels of practical intelligence.
According to a study published in the journal Personnel Psychology, an entrepreneur with high practical intelligence, who meets the following conditions, will start and grow their business in a particular industry more successfully and quicker than someone who doesn’t have the same level of practical intelligence:
- The person has specific experience for their chosen industry
- The individual has learned lessons from that particular experience
- The person has outlined specific venture growth goals
How to Test for Practical Intelligence
Sternberg measures practical intelligence by using something he calls tacit knowledge. This term has three characteristics:
- It’s intimate and personal to the user, often learned without guidance or instruction
- It’s intuitive — you gain tacit knowledge from experience not written down or easily transferred
- It integrates the practical knowledge of how to perform tasks
Sternberg bases the test of tacit knowledge on the common challenges that people face in the real world. The more expertise you have acquired in your chosen field shows that you have attained tacit knowledge.
People skilled at developing tacit knowledge perform well in roles that integrate psychology, academia, sales and management.
What are Examples of Practical Intelligence?
Let’s look at politics.
An example of a person with a high level of practical intelligence is former president John Kennedy. The idealism and breathtaking charisma of this individual changed the United States even in his short stint as the most powerful man in the country.
Interestingly, the founding and constitution of the United States is an example of practical intelligence at work. Here’s how: a group of persuasive and ambitious individuals leveraged their experience to take action. Their goal was to shape the country for the better. You might as well call them the country’s original movers and shakers.
Practical intelligence is also present in everyday life. If you’re trying to nail an interview for a job at Apple, for instance, you’re using practical intelligence to your advantage if you:
- Influence your interviewers
- Communicate effectively
- Navigate a tense situation
How to Improve Practical Intelligence
If your street smarts are lacking, don’t fret. You can take steps to hone your practical intelligence.
Here are a few suggestions to help you achieve this goal:
Reading goes beyond helping improve your IQ. It broadens your perspective, develops simple skills and enhances the skillset you already have by letting you see through the eyes of millions of people.
You don’t have to produce masterpieces like Van Gogh, Da Vinci or Picasso. You don’t even need to take up art history or enroll in drawing or painting lessons. All you have to do is to grab a pen or a pencil and sketch something.
Drawing freely trains your mind to notice more details. These details are crucial when solving real-world problems.
Writing does not mean typing away on the computer or texting on your mobile phone. Take out a pen and paper and write an old-fashioned letter. You also have the option to write a poem or an outline.
A good activity to help you boost your practical intelligence is to write using your non-dominant hand. This compels you to use the non-dominant side of your brain.
If you want to succeed in your business (and in life), you’ll want to grow your practical intelligence starting today. You want to keep this form of intelligence ready and primed, as you’ll never know when you’ll need a precise and simple decision to alter the course of your life.