IQ vs. “I Will”

November 29th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

Emotional and moral intelligence may be more important than “native intelligence.”

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I grew up hearing this little platitude from my parents: “It’s not IQ, it’s ‘I will.’” They wanted to instill the idea that even the highest intelligence quotient doesn’t spell success without some determination and good old-fashioned hustle.

Yes, IQ tests are used as a gauge of logical reasoning and technical intelligence. And children who score high are more likely than those with low IQs to succeed academically and in business. But those high scores might not have as much to with raw intelligence as they do with how motivated kids are to do well on the tests. In recent years, studies by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have shown that test takers who are promised rewards for doing well on IQ and other cognitive tests score higher. A Science magazine article notes University of Michigan psychologist Richard Nisbett’s book, “Intelligence and How to Get It,” which maintains that motivation is a major determiner for success. “A high IQ and a subway token will only get you into town,” Nesbitt tells Science.

Now, according to a recent Forbes magazine article, researchers from the Carnegie Institute of Technology suggest that a scant 15 percent of financial success is due to technical knowledge; the rest can be attributed to skills in “human engineering” – i.e. your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. According to the article, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.

So what can you develop in addition to native smarts? The “I will” of today, according to Forbes, is EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence) and BQ (Body Intelligence) – all somewhat difficult to measure, but with a combined significance that’s far greater than IQ. 

Your EQ is your awareness of your own feelings and those of others, and using emotions that are appropriate to different situations, as well as having healthy coping techniques for stress. MQ is a gauge of your integrity, responsibility, sympathy and forgiveness. The Forbes article suggests you can raise your MQ by making fewer excuses and taking responsibility for your actions, avoiding little white lies, showing tolerance of other people’s shortcomings, and communicating respect to others. And while it can be easy to deny the mind-body connection, listening to your body, eating energy-giving foods and getting enough exercise and rest largely determine your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence and energy level – all of which can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and your performance at work.   

Do you feel that society’s opinions on IQ are evolving? Forbes maintains that a person with less education who has fully developed their EQ, MQ and BQ can be far more successful than a highly educated person who falls short emotionally, morally and physically. What’s your take?