For a Better Career and Life, Boost Your Personal Intelligence

intelligence-word-Hendrie WeisingerIf 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 the  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.

Block off 45 minutes for introspective time. Make sure you are in a quiet environment with immunity to interruptions. 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 of these four that are linked to your success: interests, skills, learning style, handling pressure.

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 or auditory learner? 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.

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!

Hendrie Weisinger

Hendrie Weisinger

Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D. is a celebrated and influential psychologist, pioneer in the field of pressure management, the originator of criticism training and the author of two New York Times bestselling books. He has consulted with and developed programs for dozens of Fortune 500 Companies and government agencies and has taught in Executive Education and Executive MBA programs at Wharton, UCLA, NYU, Cornell, Penn State, and MIT. His work has been featured several times in The New York Times Sunday Business Section, and numerous popular magazines. His article for The Wall Street Journal, So You’re Afraid To Criticize Your Boss, was selected as one of their 60 best management articles and reprinted in Dow Jones on Management. He has appeared on more than 500 radio and television shows including Oprah, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, and was the featured expert for 5 consecutive days on The Today Show for their anger management special. His newest book and NY Times Bestseller is Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most You can learn more about Dr. Weisinger and his new empowering E Workshop Experience, Performing Under Pressure at

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