How to increase your intelligence

By Greg Nathan posted November 30, 2020

Alfred Binet, a French scientist, invented the first intelligence test in 1905. Binet largely defined intelligence in terms of good judgment. He also believed that, rather than being fixed, good judgement can be developed.

I share Binet’s passion for good judgement and believe it is one of the most important things in life, along with showing kindness and striving for excellence. This is why good judgement is one of FRI’s cultural values, which we define as thinking something through and making evidence based decisions.

Recently my team had a discussion on how they could improve their judgement and came up with the following 10 strategies. I think this is a great list.

#1: Refer to a set of values. Going back to important values or principles helps us to overcome the tendency to take the easy route, reduces the clouding influence of emotions on our thinking, and helps us prioritise what’s important. You might simply ask yourself, “What’s the right thing to do here?”

#2: Triangulate with relevant facts. Collect information from three separate, reliable sources and don’t rely on hearsay. I have found this especially useful when purchasing second-hand guitars. I always play it for sound and feel, I ask a trusted person to play it and give me their assessment, and I search Google to check the price. And out of 70 guitars, I haven’t bought a dud yet.

#3: Listen and observe. Before opening your mouth when you join a meeting or a new situation, stop, look around and ascertain what’s going on. Pausing for a few seconds will allow you to judge what best to say or how best to act, and can prevent you from coming across as foolish.

#4: Hold strong opinions loosely. We are all blinded to a certain extent by our biases or prejudices on how we think the world should work. When someone presents a different view, we may feel uncomfortable and want to shut this out. People with good judgement make an effort to see things from others’ perspectives, and change their views in the face of new evidence.

#5: Seek quality advice. This means we need to have the humility to know what we don’t know, and be comfortable asking for help when we need it from people with greater knowledge or experience. It also means making the effort to find good quality information from reliable sources.

#6: Identify all stakeholders. When making important decisions, make a list of all the people or groups who will be affected. Often these people will not be in the room. A good question to ask is, “Given the needs of these groups, what else do we need to consider?”

#7: Think long-term. We have all experienced the impetuousness of youth, which is why wise parents encourage their kids think about the consequences of their actions. This is a great habit which lies at the heart of good judgement. Ask yourself, “Given the people and forces at play in this the situation, what is likely to happen if I take this action?”

#8: Stay calm and curious. Fear, anxiety and anger impair our ability to think clearly and cause the brain to exaggerate potential negatives. This means we are unlikely to engage constructively with others, be creative or spot potential opportunities. The brain works best when we are calm and curious. Take a breath, step back, and ask yourself “What’s going on here?”, and your brain will work a whole lot better.

# 9: Apply the Action Learning Cycle. In our Field Manager Bootcamps we teach this model, developed by psychologist, David Kolb, as it’s a simple, but powerful model to help us get smarter. Kolb suggests that after a significant good or bad experience we take a minute to reflect on what happened, try to come up with an insight or theory on why it did or didn’t work, and then apply our insight to future situations. I love this model as it provides an antidote to the mindless repeating of mistakes.

#10: Seek the truth. All great thinkers, including Alfred Binet and David Kolb, are driven by an obsession to get to the truth of what they are studying. A desire to find the truth generates in us the energy to keep going against the odds, the clarity of mind to ask the right questions, the awareness to know when something doesn’t seem right, and the courage to call it out.

While it’s been a tumultuous year, it’s also been a year of massive learning for many. It certainly has for me. I hope these tips help you to mentally process what’s happened, and use this to grow and prosper in the year ahead.

Until next time,
Greg Nathan
Franchise Relationships Institute

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