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It's Not Your IQ, It's Your Heart and Soul that Create Engagement

November 8, 2018 Joe Mechlinski



Just as many people think we're mainly made up of bones and muscle rather than water, in society we see a focus on the head brain, and the subsequent neglect of the heart and gut brains. 

For years, we thought IQ was the only indicator of a person’s intelligence. 

Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, upended this notion when he introduced the idea of multiple intelligences. The theory is that humans have many ways of processing information, and they aren’t related to one another. So, someone can have tremendous spatial intelligence and little interpersonal intelligence. A person who has high verbal-linguistic intelligence isn’t guaranteed to possess logical-mathematical intelligence. 

There is, in other words, more than one way to classify a person’s intellect.

In my book Shift the Work, I explore the notion of our having three brains. 

I'll define them here. 

The brain in your head controls and coordinates your actions and reactions, which allows you to learn, think, and store memories.

The brain in your heart beats to pump blood throughout your body, which transports nutrients and oxygen to cells.

The brain in your gut regulates your serotonin level, which dictates your mood and behavior.

In fact, there are countless ways these brains influence our decisions and behavior.

We will never solve the engagement crisis if we continue to ignore the brains in the heart and gut.

An IQ test is not a true measure of intelligence. We have different intelligences within us that work together to make us who we are. The late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould debunked the idea that the IQ test is the sole indicator of how smart a person is. In his groundbreaking book on human intelligence, The Mismeasure of Man, he explores why the intellect cannot be calculated by simple IQ measurements. 

Despite the theories of Gould and of the developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, who introduced the idea of multiple intelligences, the IQ test is still a widely accepted measurement of intelligence for school selection, job placement, and even capital punishment. This kind of black-and-white thinking is part of what has led to our current engagement crisis. 

Society has failed to accept the other intelligence quotients, like Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Guts Quotient (GQ), which are tied to the heart and gut brains.

The U.S. Navy has explored the idea of the three brains carrying equal value. Still, the reason that commanding officers may be terminated is usually "bad judgment" and "unprofessional conduct." So, cultivating the Emotional Quotient of leaders seems to be the answer to retaining top-level officers. In addition, leaders who are more attuned to the idea of the heart brain and the gut brain working with the head brain, are likely to be leaders who cultivate an atmosphere of engagement. 

The solution "for the future of America’s armed forces is to foster a new vision of leadership, a perspective less wedded to gender-biased models and more focused on creating an emotionally intelligent warrior," says Amy Fraher, a retired U.S. Navy commander and a specialist in organizational behavior.

This is a step forward, but the Navy and most other institutions and companies need to accept the science that shows that the three brains make up one complete system that leads to engagement and that reinforces one's sense of purpose

Ready to Shift?
I’ve written a white paper that describes how you can use brain science to be happier at work. It’s called “How Brain Science Helps Engagement” and it will give some some clear strategies to shift your work.