Intelligence is a funny thing. In life there are many different forms of intelligence. There’s the measurement of your IQ; there’s attaining a college undergrad degree, graduate degree, or doctorate; and there’s even the categories of “street smarts” and “book smarts.” ‘Street smart’ is supposed to relate to practical knowledge or common sense; how to interact with people, how to fix a flat tire, how to defend yourself in a fight, etc. ‘Book smart’ is more what most people would consider actual ‘intelligence;’ being versed in different subjects such as history, mathematics, business, languages, etc. The truth is, intelligence goes far beyond any of these loose definitions.
Intelligence is defined as “capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc (dictionary.com).” So, intelligence is how much you can learn, reason, and understand; but is there a preset amount of intelligence a person can possess? Most experts would actually say yes: you can only become so smart. However, this shouldn’t be discouraging, because only a small fraction of people truly tap ALL the potential their brain has. This doesn’t mean that we “only use 10% of our brains,” because our brains are operating all the time, no matter what our IQ. What it means is that people do not put in the effort needed to expand their capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding; ie. they don’t try to increase their intelligence.
Alright, so I’ve explained intelligence and how it is lacking… so let me tell you how to improve it. I’m going to give you a detailed plan to follow in order to increase your aptitude in all areas of life.
Note: I have done my best to make this plan apply to real life: mainly the workplace and school, but it will work (with some alterations) for any situation.
This plan has 5 fairly detailed steps to it. Every step does not need to be followed every time; it’s a tiered system, where you move up to the next step only if absolutely needed to gain better learning or understanding. You will obviously start with step 1 for each situation, than proceed through the subpoints (listed below) for that step, then you should move on to step 2 once all subpoints are completed, and so on. If you find the knowledge you are seeking in step 1, then you have no need to progress to the other steps. I hope that’s clear. OK, time to get started:
To reiterate, these subpoints are to be followed for EACH step before moving to the next to ensure maximum absorption of knowledge.
1.) Have a list or game plan of questions you have/items you need to learn. When you approach each situation, you need to have an idea or goal in mind of what you want to learn or gain; so having a list of these will obviously help.
2.) Take detailed notes during the information gathering portion of the step. Taking notes is crucial. Humans learn much better when they physically write down what they are viewing/listening to, so… just DO IT.
3.) Rewrite, and then reread your notes. This will solidify the information you have just attained in your mind and will help you remember it, which is the first stage of learning.
4.) Be able to paraphrase what you wrote down in YOUR OWN words. Paraphrasing isn’t simply memorization; it is helping your mind grasp the concept more thoroughly, so you are able to gain reasoning and eventually understand the topic completely.
Sometimes at this point, if it is an easy subject or just a review, you may be finished. However, if questions remain, proceed with subpoint 5:
5.) Write down questions that still remain. If you still have questions or you require clarification about this topic, then write it down. This way you will be prepared to move on to the next step and be as productive as possible there.
Now that you have the subpoints (which apply to EACH step, remember), you are ready for the different steps to increase your intelligence:
1.) Personal Research (Learning First-hand). This is going to be your easiest way to learn (for most people) because you are learning ‘by doing.’ When you get hands-on experience in a subject, you not only obtain knowledge, but your body will actually create a sort of muscle memory every time that situation comes up. Another term for this step is PRACTICE. There’s no better way to learn than by practicing; whether it’s shooting free throws, doing practice math problems for class, refining your CAD skills at work by designing additional projects, or giving a speech to a bathroom mirror, practice will improve your knowledge and skills in that area. Hence, you are improving your intelligence.
2.) Secondary Research (Learning from what others have done). Sometimes a subject is beyond what you can learn on your own. This is where secondary sources come in: textbooks, websites, manuals, training guides, etc. At this step, you will attempt to absorb what others have done previously in order to teach you this particular topic. Some subjects (especially related to education) will require a majority of your time in this step, while some (such as sports) will require hardly any time here. So, be prepared to use these steps on a situational basis.
3.) Utilizing Co-Workers/Fellow Students/Teammates. The most readily available source of information will be these people, because you are on the same level as them, and so they will most likely be the most willing to help you. Seeking them out and asking for their help is the primary focus here, then presenting them with your questions that you have from the first two steps. Be sure to follow the subpoints!
4.) Meeting with Teacher or Professor/Direct Supervisor. If the questions you have are especially technical or difficult, then you will need to set a meeting with your direct supervisor or your teacher in a particular class. Some of your superiors will be more open to helping you than others, so just be prepared to move quickly to the next step if necessary. At this stage, it is essential that you come in fully prepared for the meeting, otherwise the person you are seeing will feel that their time has been wasted. It is also important that you follow the other steps before coming to step 4, because it is likely your superior will ask you if you have (did you practice? did you research this? did you ask your friends?).
5.) Find a Subject Matter Expert/Tutor for the Subject. At this point, you have exhausted all your other resources, and you are going to be in one of two situations: a) you are having an extremely difficult time grasping this concept, or b) you are in an advanced stage of learning and understanding that requires an expert in the field (let’s hope it’s situation b). Not to beat a dead horse, but you MUST be prepared at this level. It is likely this person is very busy, and you are most likely going to be paying for their services, so DON’T waste their time. Also, be sure to follow the subpoints as closely as possible, because the information you are gathering/experience you are building is invaluable, and you don’t want to lose it.
Now that you have gone through the steps, you must ask yourself a few questions: Did I get the information I sought? Did I gain the experience I needed? Did I master this subject? If not, what do you think you should do? That’s right–back to step 1! Practice, practice, practice. These steps (including the subpoints) will GUARANTEE that you are increasing your intelligence (learning, reasoning, understanding) in that particular subject. So, make sure you are always diligent and consistent in your learning, and you WILL become smarter or more experienced, I promise!