We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
We spend much of our life focusing on the Physical and Intellectual Quotients of life. Yes, we have to live; it is a basic function. And we need to learn, develop our knowledge and work to make a living. Those two dimensions are given the most attention in our childhood and schooling. Success in those areas is encouraged, acknowledged and rewarded, so it is no surprise that they are more dominant.
Emotional intelligence has come to the forefront in recent years and is certainly becoming more of a priority in basic and tertiary education. However, the full impact of EQ is not yet fully appreciated – especially in the world of leadership development.
EQ is manifested in trust, self-awareness and empathy – the ability to respond appropriately to the emotions of others. It is the ability to be open to our heart brain and not override or ignore it.
The spiritual quotient has taken longer to gain traction. But as spiritual beings it is our SQ that underpins IQ and EQ. It is where personal purpose and meaning are found and, according to Danah Zohar, physicist and author, it is our spiritual intelligence that enables us to access higher meanings, values, abiding purposes and unconscious aspects of the self and to embed those meanings, values and purposes in living richer and more creative lives.
Signs of high SQ include humility, the ability to think out of the box, and an access to energies that come from something beyond the ego, beyond just me and my day-to-day concerns.
Zahar refers to 12 principles of spiritual intelligence, which all human beings have the capacity to access in order to foster and enhance their SQ:
- Self-Awareness. Self-awareness in the spiritual sense means to recognise our values – what we care about, what we live for and what we would die for. When we are spiritually self-aware, we can be truly authentic.
- Spontaneity. This speaks to living in the moment. It means letting go of baggage, such as any prejudices, assumptions and projections, and being responsive to the moment. Interesting fact: Spontaneity comes from the same Latin root as responsibility, and so it is also about taking responsibility for our actions in the moment.
- Being vision and value-led. Vision is something we aspire to. In business, it’s the glue that holds us together and the force that drives us. It is the answer to our broader, more existential questions. The ‘why are we here’ and ‘what is our purpose’ questions.
- Holism is a quantum physics term that refers to an integrated system where each part is defined by the other. It’s about a sense of oneness and connectedness. Once we realise that we’re all part of the same system, we take responsibility for our part in it.
- Compassion is more than recognising and accepting the feelings of others, it’s about feeling them yourself.
- Celebration of diversity. This principle is strongly linked to the principle of compassion. It means that we have the ability to be open, to celebrate differences, to challenge different views and to engage in passionate dialogue.
- Field independence. This is a psychology term that means to ‘stand against the crowd’. It’s about being strong in your convictions and willing to be unpopular for what you believe in.
- Humility. Dahar refers to this as the necessary ‘other’ side of field independence. Humility is about accepting when we have been wrong and ruthlessly questioning ourselves.
- Tendency to ask fundamental ‘why’ questions. Questions like ‘Why are we doing it this way? Why am I doing this? Why am I not doing this?’ Why questions don’t always have easy answers.
- Ability to reframe. This is the ability to see the bigger picture. It is long-term thinking vs short-term thinking. It is the ability to connect to a bigger vision.
- Positive use of Adversity. This is about having the courage to own up to our mistakes, even if that makes us vulnerable.
- Sense of Vocation. This last principle sums up spiritual intelligence. It comes from the Latin vocare, ‘to be called’, and is about doing work with purpose that, at its core, benefits humanity.
When we can tap into our spiritual quotient, using those 12 principles as guiding virtues, we can begin to create a new paradigm for how we operate in business and life.