Can intelligence be increased? That's a radical question that has been hotly debated for well over a century. As with most "radical" questions the debate is usually centered around the lines of demarcation or differing disciplines. Historically intelligence has been measured as a factor of abstract numerical capabilities as tested by the dreaded IQ test. The supporters of IQ testing held upper hand in the debate until Dr Howard Gardner, educational psychologist at Harvard, announced his theory of "multiple intelligences," outlining eight distinct forms of "being smart." In which way are you smart?

The theory, which has been refined and tested since then, has not only continued the debate, but the ground has been shifting more to accepting the fact there are more ways to being smart rather than only in the abstract numerical sense.

A useful example would be to think for a moment of a brilliant mathematician, or physicist you might know who has absolutely no people skills. There are numerous examples. A company I did some consulting work with several years ago complained about a scientist they had on staff that had numerous patents. He was a critical intellectual prize. Unfortunately, this scientist had the habit of exposing himself to his administrative assistants! Here was an example of brilliance in one area led to stupidity in another area of life that led to a career crisis.

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to apply knowledge in a meaningful and effective manner.

Life offers us many opportunities to grow our effectiveness in a wide array of everyday problems. We face analytic problems when we are faced with financial problems, or other issues that require high reasoning abilities. We are faced with strategic problems when our creativity and innovation flattens and we can't think of new ways of staying ahead of our competition. We continuously face people problems due to insufficient understanding of the role of emotions in gaining commitment and passion from others. We face organizational and systematic problems when we are inattentive to details.

Because of your innate nature and how you have interacted with your environment you have developed more of one type of intelligence (your strength), and have under-developed your capacity in others. The under-developed modes will always lead to your life's challenges. That's the nature of life.

But your strengths can also be your weakness. Living unaware of your weakness inevitably leads to failure. Often times people fall into making the same kinds of mistakes repeatedly, until they get smarter and learn how to do things differently.

The good news - by becoming aware of your thinking preferences (patterns and default perceptual filters), you can learn to "turn on" your alternative filters and types of thinking for better outcomes. With a systematic approach to understanding your multiple intelligences, you can consciously learn to think better and have more success. In fact, you can get smarter!

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Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn to read more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at Having trained tens of thousands of people, he has mastered the art of the coaching, especially when learning speed reading and learning strategies. Ed is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and, Inc. You can learn more at