Coaching Corner: Spiritual Intelligence (SQ)

Less common then IQ or EQ (emotional intelligence), spiritual intelligence (SQ) is defined by Cindy Wigglesworth as “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.”  Perhaps that’s not what you might use the term spiritual for, however, Ms. Wigglesworth and her team at Deep Change  set out to define the skills of spiritual intelligence with a particular focus on measuring growth and development. Her system is called SQ 21.  SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, recently published, offers a in-depth presentation of this novel work. Let’s have a look. The 21 skills are partitioned into four quadrants. These are

  • Quadrant One: Self/Ego Self Awareness
  • Quadrant Two: Universal Awareness
  • Quadrant Three: Self/Ego Self Mastery
  • Quadrant Four: Social Mastery/ Spiritual Presence

Each of the quadrants have five or six skills.  The following graphic presents all 21 skills. Spiritual Intelligence Chart Within each skill, the SQ 21 assessment offers five levels from 1 (begining) to 5 (mastery).  Let’s look at an example of the five levels within one skill level.  For Skill 2: Awareness of Life Purpose:

  1. I understand why it is important for me to have personal values.
  2. I can specifically state my personal values.
  3. My personal values are connected to the voice of my Higher Self.
  4. I have rank ordered my values so that I know which values are most important to me.
  5. My Higher Self is so strong and clearly in control that decisions become relatively easy-even when the consequences of those decisions are not easy to see and may provoke sadness.  Universal Self and Higher Self are tightly connected and values are aligned.

Is it clear the hierarchy of these five levels? Beginning with a basic understanding of personal values, then ability to state those values, the ability to connect the values to something beyond the self, prioritizing values and finally living with clarity by having values connected and aligned with something greater then the self.  Each level requires the previous skill to be on-line. If you are asking, “So what?”.  I’ll tell you. For me, as a coach, understanding spiritual intelligence is essential, as often my clients have a sense they are part of something bigger, and often the issues they are struggling with are related to this. As a coach, if I have attuned myself with a language that allows me to help others explore their values and spiritual concerns, I can better serve. With greater alignment for myself, I am able to continue my own growth as well. Conversely, if I don’t know much about my own SQ I’m not likely to notice these areas in my clients.  This is frequently the case in the doctor/ patient relationships, a role I also have with clients. It’s actually a rather bad habit of the medical system to ignore this area of development.  Perhaps, illness and healing have something to do with maintaining inner and outer peace!

shutterstock_76968340Not everyone has a concern for spiritual growth and fulfillment.  It is not essential for working with clients. However, much of the literature notes that many  Americans believe in God or a higher power.  For these people, having a coach familiar with spiritual intelligence seems vital to a deeply powerful coaching relationship. Reconsidering the definition of Spiritual Intelligence that opened this blog. “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation”, you will notice that belief in God isn’t even part of the definition. Essential is the ability to align actions and behaviors with values of wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer equanimity.  This certainly can have a positive impact on health as well as on our relationship with others.  In this way, SQ is about becoming more fully human. Much different then IQ, with its emphasis on cognitive development as well as EQ, emotional intelligence, coined by Daniel Goldman, which consists of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills.  and physical intelligence or  PQ, which is developed through athletics, fitness, movement practices and dance.  Rather SQ offers a broad perspective that involves all areas of our lives.  It often develops last in life after physical, intellectual, and emotional.  For many years SQ suffered from the science versus religion debate with little neutral language for research. The SQ 21 assessment is unique and a powerful tool for growth. Many thanks to Cindy Wigglesworth and her team for shining a light on this vital area of human development.

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