Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D.

Thicken Your Skin

Personal Intelligence: Are You Using Yours?

Do you have an untapped talent? Do you delude yourself?

Posted Jul 19, 2015

If you are open to new ways to improve your success, you might want to try increasing your "PI" -- that's "personal intelligence," a cousin of emotional intelligence. Personal intelligence is new kid on the block for achieving success and it's gaining a great deal of attention because it is important in helping you shape your career, relationships, and your life.

Basically, PI is the ability of knowing oneself. Its importance lies in the fact that only when you recognize your true capabilities and intelligences can you truly live your life to the optimum. A simple illustration of this is having an extraordinary hidden talent but never recognizing it or using it. Another would be to overrate yourself and get a false sense of pride out of it, only to be devastated when the reality sets in.

More technically, PI is the capacity to reason about personality and to use personality and personal information to enhance one's thoughts, plans, and life experience. Its chief components include recognizing personally relevant information about yourself from introspection and others, and using that information to systematize your goals, plans, and life stories for good outcomes.

If this doesn't sound important, I will remind you of the fact that tens of thousands of individuals derail themselves by making wrong decisions about what jobs to take, what work environments to enter, who to work with, and by overrating their abilities and underrating their deficiencies. These are all examples of low PI.

Like many success factors, you can develop your PI. Your main tool is introspection -- not the popular mindfulness. The difference is that introspection has nothing to do with "being in the moment." Rather, it is a deliberate, time-consuming process that requires you to study yourself so that you can assess yourself accurately. In the context of interpersonal PI, it means meticulously observing others so that you recognize individual differences in how they operate so that you can respond and facilitate their uniqueness for positive results.

Here is a methodology that I have used to help dozens of executives and managers develop their PI.

1. Block off 45 minutes for introspective time. Make sure you are in a quiet environment with immunity to interruptions.

2. Select an one area of your personality that is crucial to your career success. There are many to choose from. You might start with.choosing one from these four that are linked to your success: interests, skills, learning style, handling pressure.

3. Spend the designated time introspecting on the personality area you selected. As you introspect, think of examples. For example, if you choose learning style, think about all the facts you can muster: How long does it take you to learn new information and what type of information is it easy or hard for you to learn? Are you a visual learner or auditory? Are you a self-learner or do you need instruction? Do you learn better in groups or individually? You might find it helpful to make a list of questions that will direct your introspection.

4. Record your introspective observations. When you are finished, be sure to write down your findings. Having an introspective journal will be useful to keep your introspective thoughts organized.

Repeat the procedure for the other areas.

To reiterate, part of PI is your ability to integrate your personality data to use in creating a positive life story. You accomplish this by studying your data and matching it with your current life situation, in this example, your job/career path. Ask yourself: "Does the data suggest I am in the right job, the right environment? Is my personality data in accordance with the goals I want to achieve? Am I doing work that reflects my interests? Are my strengths being maximized? What are my weaknesses and are they being developed or hurting me?" These questions and others that you ask will help you leverage your PI so that you can achieve your potential.

The caveat is that most individuals fail to be accurate in their assessment; they engage in self-deception. You can combat this tendency by thinking of multiple examples, rather than few, for each personality area you study. You can also check the validity of your observations by asking trusted others for their introspective thoughts about your personality. Doing so will help you develop their interpersonal PI.

You already have EI at your table.  Now set a place for PI!

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