Not another “intelligence”​! How can it help me?

While at Liz and Danielle’s Fit for Business* getaway last week, they introduced us to the concept of being “physically intelligent”.

Oh no, I hear you cry, not another “intelligence”! We already have iQ and eQ, what can this really add?

Well, Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton, authors of the new book “Physical Intelligence” explain it’s about understanding your physical reactions and emotions, and learning to control them can help you feel happier and achieve more. They refer to 8 key chemicals in our brains (including adrenaline, cortisol and serotonin), and believe that balancing them in the most effective way, referred to as a “winning cocktail”, directly influences the 4 elements of physical intelligence:

  • Strength:  this comprises inner strength and confidence, signified by appropriate risk-taking, good cognitive function and decision-making under pressure, as well as establishing clear boundaries and remaining committed.
  • Flexibility:  being creative, innovative and collaborative, having high self-esteem and respect for others, effectively engaging and influencing others, adapting to different behaviour styles and agendas, being agile and quick-thinking, and finally embracing and instigating change.
  • Resilience:  bouncing back from adversity and conflict, being optimistic, adopting a learning mindset, as well as developing a well-functioning immune system through emotional, mental and physical fitness.
  • Endurance:  having staying power and determination, focusing on and achieving long-term goals, finding intrinsic motivation, planning, executing and maintaining long-term performance.

So, is this just a fad?

Well, I dug around a bit more into the topic. And, without going down a scientific rabbit hole, I discovered research into Embodied Cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind. And of course there’s much work in understanding the neuroscience that underpins our behaviours, helping us control our “winning cocktail”.

So no, I don’t believe this is just a fad. Perhaps it popularises the complex science of our chemicals, brains and related behaviours. But making complex things accessible and useful I don’t believe is a bad thing.

As with all my articles, let’s end this with some practical tips on how you can improve your own physical intelligence:

Building strength: perfect your posture! Open and expansive posture projects confidence; reduce nerves by doing a Power Pose for 2 minutes before a key event.

Improving flexibility: spark creativity by taking a walk and noticing beautiful objects in nature; move more during your day – hold meetings while walking, standing at your computer instead of sitting, and stretching to release tension areas, especially in the neck and shoulders.

Enhancing endurance: visualise your long term goal, ideally drawing it, sticking it on a wall and regularly revisiting it by purposefully walking towards it; 5 minutes of strength training (i.e. plant, squats) every day.

Developing resilience: smile at yourself in a mirror or literally jump for joy; block out time in your schedule for REST – Retreat, Eat (healthy), Sleep (quality) and Treat.

Physical intelligence underpins our cognitive and emotional intelligence. The more we use physical intelligence techniques, the better armed we will be to achieve business success.

Melanie runs Phoenix Evolution, a company specialising in helping teams and individuals use care, curiosity and customer focus to drive better working environments and achieve more. Melanie incorporates aspects of embodiment and Physical Intelligence in her work, providing a holistic, meaningful and practical approach to team effectiveness.

*Special thanks to Liz Goodfellow and Danielle Earley for inspiring this article at their Fit for Business Getaway.

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