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It is impossible to gauge intelligence – someone’s capacity to understand and utilize that understanding in action –  on a universal scale.

The most outwardly successful people in the world are brilliant in their own regard (how often do we hear the story of the CEO who didn’t finish college, or the thinker who never excelled in school?) And the most inwardly successful people are the ones who are brilliant in knowing themselves.

This is what we should be advocating. Rather than telling kids they can be “whatever they want,” we should tell them they can be “exactly who they are, if so they choose.”

This kind of self-awareness is key. But it must come alongside knowing that there are various types of intelligence, as so many kids grow up feeling as though they are inferior to one specific standard (when they may be ingenious in another, less overtly valued one!)

Dr. Howard Garner understood this. Here, his six types of intelligence, and how you can tell which one you are.

1. Linguistic.

Linguistically intelligent people are storytellers. They are creating narratives in their minds as they go about their day. They are most moved by things that are communicated verbally — songs, words, etc. They tend to be humorous and introspective, sensitive and persuasive (and in some cases, easily manipulative).

2. Logical-mathematical.

Logical intelligence is simply the ability to solve a problem. It is the ability to detect and follow patterns, reduce complicated scenarios to digestible focal points that just need be connected or resolved. The association is most commonly with mathemeticians, scientists, accountants, engineers, etc. but it also lends itself to people who are simply practical and grounded.

3. Musical.

Musical intelligence is not just the ability to compose music or understand life through song; it’s thinking in terms of sounds, rhythms and audible patterns. (It does, however, usually encompass the skills or performance, composition and appreciation of music itself.)

4. Bodily-kinesthetic.

This is the ability to coordinate and express through physical movement. It requires an innate coordination and ability to read people’s non-verbal cues.

5. Visual-spatial.

This is the ability to perceive objects in an abstract place accurately or in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s the inherent knowing of “where things should go.” Sculptors, architects, interior designers are typically gifted with this kind of natural perception.

6. Interpersonal.

Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand people’s objectives, motivations and desires, by picking up on subtle body language and less-obvious social cues. These people easily build relationships, as they are attuned to people’s needs almost immediately, and is strongest among educators, executives and political figures.

7. Intrapersonal.

Finally, intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to understand oneself through a natural understanding of heightened feelings, intentions and motivations. That awareness usually leads to developing an effective working model of the concept of “self” and people with this kind of intelligence use that model of understanding to regulate their lives (writers and philosophers have this in abundance.)

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