Spiritual Intelligence: Presence of Heart and Mind

I recently attended a program called “Spiritual Intelligence: Leadership Edge” where I was asked the question – “How can you open up the window of the incredibly complex world in which you live?” Of course, “spiritual intelligence,” a term coined by Danah Zohar that indicates spiritual parallels with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient), needed an explanation to the program attendees. Spiritual intelligence was described to us as three simple ideas:   

  • Enabling what is within a leader to show up when most needed
  • Narrowing our lens of self
  • Allowing values to take hold and creating a “We” culture

When you consider the definition of spiritual intelligence as the ability to access deeper meaning and integrate multiple forms of information (data, facts, feedback, discussion, emotion, reflection, body reaction, and intuition) to see and resolve the right problems, it does open the window quickly. 

We access and develop our spiritual intelligence through certain attributes that are especially important in effective leadership, including:

  • Being fully present
  • Operating out of values and purpose
  • Asking the question behind the question
  • Inviting different and conflicting views into the discussion
  • Seeing the WHOLE
  • Moving from the “I” to “We”

I invite you to think about how these attributes already show up in your approach to leadership in work and life, and how you might be willing to develop them further. The leader within us becomes engaged when we take time to pause, notice, and simply “be” in the present. For me, that can be a rarity. But when I do take a moment to relax, open up and seek clarity on a problem at hand, it opens the doors of understanding. For many of us, we can be “here” yet at the same time be miles away in our mind.

When we only notice those things that support our own opinions and way of thinking, we close ourselves off from ideas, information and different perspectives that can help us see the whole picture, not just what we might be more comfortable with. This closing off is called “self-sealing” and it hurts our ability to make good decisions. However when we do open up, something incredible happens – our thinking moves from “I” to “We.” We desire to do the right things and this is what companies need in their culture.

As I think about what this means to me, I find myself desiring to focus on being present with my heart and my mind when waking up each morning.  Being mindful of those around me, listening to the conversations of others with an ear to hear not just the words, but what is behind the words, looking for someone to do something extraordinary for that takes just an awareness of the leadership edge of “spiritual intelligence,” that I have been so gifted with in my life. 

In November of 2013 I spent a month in Africa. Oh how blessed I felt as I had the incredible opportunity to serve alongside my son as he provided medical care for his patients. It was not just physical attention that he gave to them, but emotional, mental and spiritual care. I had the opportunity to observe my son minister to these people with a tenderness and grace that has given me inspiration to be more observant of others. The trip helped me to “open the window of the complex world” and discover how to use my spiritual intelligence to improve my leadership abilities.  

Do you have a story of showing up with your heart and mind and deepening your intelligence? Would you share it with me? 

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  1. Lynn Flinn's avatar
    Lynn Flinn
    | Permalink
    Good story, Travis. Gael O'Brien made some great comments about spiritual intelligence. Often, we focus so much about getting tasks done that we forget to consider how people "feel" about the work they are doing. I wonder how much more we might accomplish if we consider not only getting a job done, but also, equally important, how can we get the job done and do something positive for those around us.
  2. Travis Jones's avatar
    Travis Jones
    | Permalink
    Thank you Lynn for the comment. What we do today does make a difference to those around us, we may not see it right away but sometimes it takes time to bear fruit. You are a great example of influencing others, thanks for the example.
  3. Shannon Warren's avatar
    Shannon Warren
    | Permalink
    Thanks for sharing these thoughtful insights, Travis. Gael's explanation of self-sealing was an important aspect of her presentation. Certainly a worthwhile reminder for all of us. Grateful that she was able to present to our OK Ethics groups.
  4. Travis Jones's avatar
    Travis Jones
    | Permalink

    Gail really stretched my thinking on this topic. thanks for bringing her as a guest of the Oklahoma Ethics Consortium luncheon series
  5. Gael O'Brien's avatar
    Gael O'Brien
    | Permalink
    Your blog comments offer an important invitation to consider what being fully present means to one's leadership. By giving others the dignity of truly seeing and hearing them, it creates a transforming experience. The challenge is for leaders to understand and act on the ways they can support themselves in being fully present. Your description of how your son practices medicine in Africa by engaging his intellect and medical knowledge, his emotional intelligence in patient relationships and his full humanity in how he experiences others is a great illustration of drawing on aspects of his spiritual intelligence -- being present, operating out of values and purpose, knowing to ask the question behind the question, being open to all information as he integrates the whole of it, and in the process he moves to the "we."
  6. Travis Jones's avatar
    Travis Jones
    | Permalink
    Thanks Gael for your comments. Reminds me of "reflective practice" which aligns our true intent with our outward behavior. When you think about professional development both Spiritual intelligence and reflective practice are great tools to consider. We become both an actor and a part of the audience - fully present as you would say. Observation is enhanced and our analitical skills are challenged.

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