Most people whom we consider geniuses, people who have made their mark in the world, people such as Barbara Walters, Sam Walton, and Bill Gates, are generally individuals who, by some lucky accident, have succeeded in drawing on a second of the six intelligences or, in rare cases, a third. The rest of us plug along using one-sixth, or more likely one-tenth, of our total brainpower.
Previously, science saw “intelligence” as the part of the mind that engages in conscious thinking and problem solving–a single, monolithic mental phenomenon. The accepted view, in short, was that there was only one kind of intelligence and that, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, was the “ability to form concepts, solve problems, obtain information, reason, and perform other intellectual operations.”
As a result, most scientific research, the educational system, and efforts to raise intelligence focused on conscious, logical thinking. The other five intelligences remained unknown, unexplored, and, for the most part, undeveloped. Those of us who, due to some factor in our background or heredity, found it easy to use our logical intelligence thrived under this system and were singled out as “most likely to succeed.” This led to the misconception that only a small number of us are smart, and the rest of us are doomed to tag along mentally behind.
Now we know there are more intelligences than one. It’s important to emphasize that what we are talking about here is not different “components” of intelligence. They are six distinct, separate brain systems that evolved, and function, in separate convolutions of our gray matter.
The theory of “multiple” intelligences is so new that experts still argue over the precise number. However, all agree that the six [categories] that follow play key roles in our daily lives and key roles in determining our success or failure. You no longer have to limit yourself to a mere sixth of your mental wattage. In addition, rather than futilely attempting to apply one kind of intelligence to all six domains, you can apply the appropriate intelligence (or combination of intelligences) to whatever difficulties you encounter.
Visual intelligence, also known as “picture smarts,” is the brain system responsible for processing and storing all visual images, real and “imaginary.” Sight is such an all-encompassing aspect of our daily lives that the portion of brain matter allocated to visual intelligence outweighs that of verbal intelligence.
Yet, paradoxically, beyond the act of seeing what is around us, this is one of the most underused intelligences. For we look, but we do not see. Can you describe what the person you rode next to on the subway this morning was wearing? If you were an artist, or someone else who developed his or her picture smarts, you could.
Because they think in images and can picture things vividly in their minds, those with picture smarts received straight As in art and geometry and respond best to information and lessons presented in visual form. They perform at their peak when jobs cry out