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MikkiLeaks: In Search of Intelligent Life, by Phil Liebman
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Mikki Williams. CSP, CPAE Mikki Williams. CSP, CPAE
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Chicago, IL
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

 
MikkiLieaks

In Search of Intelligent Life
by Phil Liebman   

Just when I showered-off the stench and dried off after last month's back-flip into the deep web for my readers, the headlines were screaming with news regarding the standoff in Congress over privacy versus security and the USA Freedom Act. I cringe every time I hear the words "intelligence community" and "government" used in proximity to each other. Now, I may be just a bit crazy, but how crazy is the big-leaker, Edward Snowden? Many see this political crisis as being entirely his fault. Some see him as a treasonous criminal - but others want to declare him a national hero. What's really crazy is that Snowden has been tearing-up the speaking circuit while in exile by appearing via video feed to a wide range of audiences around the world, and even here in the United States. Snowden might be crazy - but he certainly isn't stupid. There is inescapable irony in the fact that the NSA he betrayed is dependent on tight lips while the other NSA (National Speakers Association) embraces those who blab. This guy is apparently hard-core NSA through and through.
Have you ever noticed that "crazy" and "intelligent" are often compatible characteristics? How often does it seem that the most brilliant people are also cracker-barrel nuts? It's not that they are deliberately being "outrageous" - they simply cannot help themselves. It was Steve Jobs who said, "The people who are crazy enough to believe they can actually change the world are the ones who actually do."
It turns out that to understand the relationship between intelligence and success in life you have to deep dive into what intelligence really is. Which takes me back to the brilliant insight of former President William Jefferson Clinton when he famously suggested that the conveyance of the truth can depend on what the meaning of "is" is. Clinton showed us that intelligence and common sense sometimes leave town on different tracks.
And that leads me to where I want to begin this train of thought: intelligence is generally how we distinguish the human race from other life on our planet. Yet my golden retriever seems much smarter than some people I know. It turns out we actually know much more about intelligence and the implications for human potential than we did just 25 years ago when in 1990 the concept of social intelligence, or as it was to be coined, "Emotional Intelligence," first came to light. It suggests that core intelligence or IQ is not the singular predictor of anyone's success in life. Interestingly, long before science developed a standard for measuring human intelligence, any parent could readily see how much or little "common sense" their child exhibited. IQ is accepted to represent what you were born with while common sense is acquired, or even "whooped-into" any kid who wasn't "smart" enough to figure out how to develop that for him/herself. Nowadays beating common sense into people doesn't seem all that smart - just ask Adreinne Peters - who discovered that playing for the NFL doesn't qualify him as a child-rearing expert.
Emotional Intelligence (EIQ, or more commonly referred to as EQ) can be measured by a variety of assessment tools including the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQI). There are also numerous free resources that can be found online. The great thing about EQ is that it can be improved by increasing self-awareness and by learned behaviors. Even better news is that emotional intelligence seems be a better predictor of one's personal success than core intelligence - so testing and retesting could actually be a smart thing to do.
So what is intelligence? A simple dictionary definition is "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills." Basic intelligence is about processing the information we are exposed to in some way that we can make useful. But it doesn't speak to whether the person who is just getting by is actually brilliant at sleeping late and staying beneath the radar or whether the brilliant mind that could discover the cure for cancer will ever find or create the opportunity to emerge into someone who will actually achieve that. Those aspects of intelligence are more closely linked to the social context of emotional intelligence and suggest such things as the ability to defer gratification and therefor to devote yourself more diligently to an intended outcome, or the ability to collaborate or communicate to inure the good will and support of others.
People with even average core intelligence and high degrees of emotional intelligence seem to feed off of, and at the same time, inspire others. Combine a truly great mind with a highly socially competent being and you have all the ingredients for greatness one can imagine.
Albert Einstein suggested, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." Well, imagine that! I'm not looking to show-up Einstein, but my own study of problem solving and idea generation has shown me that the best outcomes come from a combination of critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. The best solutions and opportunities are borne of the perfect blend of IQ and EQ in combination, ideally from several contributors working together.
This led me to what I think is the biggest secret I am leaking to you here today, thanks to the great work of a good friend of mine. It's the idea that operating out of a sense of purposeful contribution is what connects people's social intelligence with their greatest potential for success. If IQ is about how you process information, and EQ is how you make what you process work in the context of the world you live and operate in, it is knowing why, and for whom you do what you do, is something larger and truly beyond your own interests that truly distinguishes the most successful and influential people in the world.
Suzanne Livingston has spent many years developing her concept of what she calls the Contribution Approachâ„¢. Starting with the perspective that why people do what they do is as or more important than what they do, Suzanne observed that people naturally want to work together with other people who strongly believe what we strongly believe. If you want a clear and well-researched explanation of how this works read "Start with Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action", by Simon Sinek or look up his TED talk. Suzanne's early work dealt with shifting the selling paradigm by helping move from transaction-based leveraging principles to contribution-based relationship building. She saw that when people are clear about what their unique contribution to others is through what they do or provide then those who would benefit from that are naturally more receptive to the possibility of engaging with the that person. There is no need to leverage and sell in the conventional sense. But in order for that to occur, your sense of contribution must be authentic: what you do is not about yourself, it is about your contribution. It's not just the contribution you make - it is connected to the belief that what you contribute is absolutely vital and necessary with the same fierceness that a mother bear is devoted to her cub. Dr. Lee Thayer describes that as being "had by your cause" as opposed to having a cause. It is irresistible to us and become irresistible to others.
Recently, collaborating with Suzanne, I began to see that her Contribution Effect is an important expansion of understanding and working with our EQ. When we can focus our attention, not only on the social context in which we operate, but on that context being larger than ourselves, and it is truly "why" we do what we do there is common ground and interests that enable us to connect on a much higher and fundamentally more engaged level with the people who believe what we believe and want what we want. Working with, or doing business with these people becomes a matter of a shared purpose and a common good.
I believe that Contribution Intelligence may be the most critical level of intelligence we have at our disposal. And it's really no secret that the most successful people in the world function with this sense of giving, paying forward and serving a greater good. It is the reason why I write Mikki-Leaks for you.
I've spent much too much time spilling my guts and singing like a canary out here in the open for one month. For my own safety, and yours, I had better go back into hiding. Remember - shhhhh.

Some resources sited in this Month's column:
Simon Sinek - Start with Why on TED
Suzanne Livingston - on LinkedIn
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