This is a book summary of SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence by Cindy Wigglesworth (Amazon).
I was pleasantly surprised by this book—a nice balance of the philosophical and the practical. I resonated with Cindy’s story. She’s highly educated, spent two decades working in the corporate world, and has obviously invested a considerable amount of time in self-taught pursuits on her own journey through life. It’s immediately obvious that she’s well-read and knows her stuff.
Note: I should mention that I have only read the book and not taken the SQ21 assessment.
If you’re looking for an intro to Cindy and her work, I enjoyed this video:
- All quotes are from the author unless otherwise stated.
- Some quotes are paraphrased (shown without quotation marks).
- I’ve added my own emphasis throughout in bold.
- The most important skills are shown with a star (⭐).
Book Summary Contents: Click a link here to jump to a section below
- Cindy’s Aha Moment
- Introduction to the Book
- Multiple Intelligences
- What is Spiritual Intelligence (SQ)?
- A Visual Intro to the SQ21 Model & Quadrants
- Quadrant 1: Self/self Awareness (Skills 1-5)
- Quadrant 2: Universal Awareness (Skills 6-11)
- Quadrant 3: Self/self Mastery (Skills 12-16)
- Quadrant 4: Social Mastery/Spiritual Presence (Skills 17-21)
- Spiritual Weightlifting: 9 Steps to Shift to Higher Self
What is Spiritual Intelligence? The Twenty-One Skills of “SQ21” by Cindy Wigglesworth (Book Summary)
Cindy’s Aha Moment
“When I was about twelve years into my career at Exxon, I knew that I was not going to be there until retirement. I could feel the ‘divine discontent’ stirring, nudging me to do something else. But I didn’t know what that ‘something’ was. I read books about purpose and thought about it a lot but I wasn’t sure what was next. Finally, I realized it was time to turn it over to God. So I prayed and affirmed that a right and perfect next path would reveal itself. I prayed for two years before I got an answer.“
- “I was away on a retreat when the answer hit me. I had just arrived and was sitting in an old prayer chapel. I stilled my mind and pointed my thoughts toward the Divine. Suddenly, I felt a thought arrive in my head. I heard it and felt it simultaneously. The idea was this: ‘Jesus with a job; Buddha with a briefcase.’ Wow! I was stunned. It summed up so many things for me. I had been trying to find a way to apply my spirituality at work.”
- “Two days later, sitting in the new prayer chapel during silent meditation, I saw in my mind a newspaper column titled ‘Spirit at Work.’ I said ‘Thank you!’ to God/Spirit and my Higher Self/intuitive self for accessing such a brilliant idea. It named my pain and my path. How could I bring Spiritual Intelligence to the workplace? After that moment of insight, it took me five years of preparation (studying, as well as financial and emotional preparation) to leave Exxon and launch my new career. But the clarity of that guidance was profound and life-altering. And it all began with asking. So I recommend to my clients to get quiet and ask their Higher Self or Higher Power for guidance. And then listen patiently and carefully.”
Introduction to the Book
“Specifically, this 21 Skills model is the result of asking this question: I want to be a good person—where do I start? I started with the spiritual figures I deeply admired: How could I be as loving as Jesus? Be peaceful and nonviolent like Gandhi? Keep my center and stay wise and strong in the face of terrible things like the Dalai Lama? Have vision and faith like Nelson Mandela?”
- “My largest, bravest hope for this work is that Spiritual Intelligence will help us as a species ‘grow up’ and better navigate our complex, interdependent world. I hope that a positive tipping point is reached when enough of us find our way to loving our neighbors and ourselves, to focusing on what is highest and best, and thereby lead ourselves into a better future for humanity.”
- “Transcending our ‘smaller nature’ and growing into our full potential as human beings is the most important and fulfilling thing we can do with our lives. The set of skills that I collectively call ‘Spiritual Intelligence’ are designed to help you to become more fully who you are, to continue to grow and develop, and to live with greater consciousness, direction, wisdom, and compassion. These skills and the larger goal of becoming fully human are in alignment with all the world’s great wisdom traditions. Psychologist Abraham Maslow described this as ‘a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive … [which] amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human.'”
- “If you have picked up this book, I suspect you are on the move. You are someone who wants to become more fully human—to be the best YOU that you can be. Once this hunger awakens, no distractions, purchases, or promotions at work will satisfy it. You just know there is ‘something more.’“
“Intelligence is made up of three parts: nature, nurture, and results. Therefore, intelligence is: Your innate potential (nature) that is: brought into form through practice (nurture/effort) AND results in adeptness or appropriately reasoned behavior or choice.”
- “Psychologist Howard Gardner went even further … proposing that human beings possess multiple intelligences in addition to what is commonly measured on an IQ test.” (Note: Gardner’s “MI Theory” proposes 8 intelligences that are different from PQ, IQ, EQ, and SQ highlighted in this book)
Physical Intelligence (PQ):
- “The base of the pyramid—our PQ—needs to be strong in order to support the ‘weight’ of the levels above. While many people take it for granted, PQ is foundational. When we don’t take care of our bodies everything else suffers. I define PQ simply as ‘body awareness and skillful use.’“
Cognitive Intelligence (IQ):
- “By the time the developing child is ready to go to school, his focus has shifted to IQ development. This is not to say that IQ, or cognitive intelligence, was not developing beforehand or that PQ stops developing. But the primary focus shifts as the child learns logical thinking, language skills, and other basics he needs to function in a complex industrialized society. IQ is the kind of intelligence we are most familiar with and its development is supported by our education systems.”
Emotional Intelligence (EQ):
- “Emotional intelligence has been defined in numerous ways, but essentially it relates to our interpersonal skills, founded on emotional self-awareness and empathy and emotional self-management. In my own work I have adopted the most well-used and field-tested model of EQ, developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis … Goleman highlights three skills as especially important foundations for building relationship skills: emotional self-awareness, empathy, and emotional self-control.”
What is Spiritual Intelligence (SQ)?
“Created with much consideration, my definition of spiritual intelligence is: The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.“
Unpacking the definition:
- “The word ‘behave’ is critical in my definition. Spiritual Intelligence must show up in our actions and our behaviors.“
- “The final part of the definition refers to the ability to maintain inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation. I have found that this time-honored spiritual ideal is essential if we are going to act from love. We must hold our wisdom and compassion within a larger container of peacefulness. And the reason I specify ‘inner and outer’ is that a lot of people can fake peacefulness on the outside, yet can be anything but peaceful internally.”
How SQ works with the other intelligences:
- “SQ development, once begun, can accelerate our IQ development in the realm of cognitive complexity, our EQ growth as well as our ability to maintain a healthy PQ. SQ forms a virtuous developmental circle with these other intelligences.“
- “I have come to understand SQ as playing a foundational role in all of our intelligences. I see it as an integrating intelligence—a ‘capstone’ that links and amplifies our rational and emotional capacities.”
- “Spiritual Intelligence does not develop in a vacuum … All of these intelligences need to be developed in order for deep change to be sustained, which is why I have started to refer to the sum total of these four as Deep Intelligence. The wisdom of Deep Intelligence will allow us not only to develop ourselves but to most effectively play the role we are here to play in the larger evolutionary process.”
SQ as it relates to spirituality and religion:
- “Spiritual Intelligence, as distinct from both spirituality and religion, is a set of skills we develop over time, with practice. It can be developed either within or independent of a religious belief or tradition. The key point to note here, however, is that it does need to be developed. I believe we are all born spiritual, but we are not born spiritually intelligent. Spiritual Intelligence takes work and practice.”
- “SQ is not a particular belief system—it is, as I often say, both faith-neutral and faith-friendly.”
- “You may be wondering: Isn’t spirituality about accepting things as they are? What about ‘being in the moment’? I ask you to consider a paradox. I believe goal-orientation is essential for growth, but that we also reach our goal in every step we take during the process of development. We discover our ‘optimal state’ through the process of development itself—through consciously and freely engaging with our own growth and evolution in the way that only humans seem able to do. In fact, because we are evolving beings, our full flourishing may be a moving target. The destination and the journey are intertwined—one helping to define and redefine the other in a magnificent unfolding.”
- “Becoming fully human is not an attainment but a continuous engagement. And the ability to live fully in that engagement is perhaps the most significant spiritual attainment we can aspire to. In my own research, I have found this to be the key to personal growth.”
The essence and ultimate goal of SQ:
- “Spiritual Intelligence comes down to this essential question: Who is driving your life? Is the calmer, wiser ‘Higher Self’ in charge, or are you driven by an immature, short-sighted ego and/or the beliefs and ideals of others? This central question of who is driving says everything about your capacity to become fully human and the depth of your engagement in the process of growth and development right now.”
- “Here is the essence of what Spiritual Intelligence allows us to do: We can mature the ego, gently shift it out of the driver’s seat and over into the passenger’s seat, and allow our Higher Self to drive the car of our life.”
- “Developing the voice of the Higher Self and learning how to follow its guidance is the most vital part of Spiritual Intelligence.“
- “The goal of SQ development can be summed up as that point at which your Higher Self is driving the car and ego is simply the navigator. And it is important that ego is the navigator—it has not been thrown out of the car or shut in the trunk. My belief is that the ego is a healthy and natural aspect of the self, as adult development theory has shown us. We need the ego to be mature and we need the ego to be present in order for us to navigate the world. From a theological or philosophical standpoint you can think of the Higher Self as the part of you that is connected to what is universal and timeless—the part of you that has a big perspective on life, but may not understand the details of how to navigate the complexities of everyday existence. You need the ego present and mature to help you interface with other embodied people. As long as we are in our bodies, we need our egos. Your ego is able to detect what is going on with other egos. To not have an ego to navigate would leave you driving blindly. Without your ego self you would be well-intentioned but not skillful. To be both well-intentioned and skillful, you need these two parts of the self to be good partners. That partnership—of mature ego plus Higher Self—is where all of this development is leading. And it is a significant attainment for any human being.”
- “Deep change, to me, is the goal of SQ development. It’s the kind of change that is sustainable, the impact of which is felt in ever-widening circles beyond the individual or organization who has undergone such a transformation.”
- “Deep change is evolutionary change—which means it represents a step beyond what has come before, rather than simply a modification of what already exists or a variation on an established theme. Authentic deep change can be the hardest kind of change to generate and sustain, but it also has the greatest impact.”
A Visual Intro to the SQ21 Model & Quadrants
Here’s an overview of the four quadrants and the 21 skills (which the remainder of this summary breaks down in more detail).
If you’re wondering which skills are the most important:
- ⭐ Skill 5: Awareness of Ego self/Higher Self
- ⭐ Skill 7: Awareness of Worldviews of Others
- ⭐ Skill 13: Keeping Higher Self in Charge
- ⭐ Skill 19: Making Compassionate and Wise decisions
The arrows between each quadrant below show how the developmental sequence works. Starting with quadrants 1 & 2 impact quadrants 3 & 4. In general, quadrant 4 is an “outcome” quadrant from development in the other three quadrants.
Quadrant 1: Self/self Awareness (Know Thyself — Skills 1-5)
“The first of the Four Quadrants of SQ contains key skills for understanding yourself—knowing what makes you up, what matters most to you, and which parts of you need to be skillfully developed. Practicing the skills in this quadrant will help you become more aware of the difference between the big Self and the small self. That’s why I call it Self/self Awareness.”
Skill 1: Awareness of Own Worldview (“What filters do I see through?”)
“Awareness is foundational—that’s why it comes first. You can’t get outside of your current worldview and evaluate its usefulness until you notice you have a worldview!”
- “The most important thing about this skill: the recognition that the way you see is not simply ‘the way things are’—it is a particular view.”
- “Worldviews refer not to what you see, but to how you see.”
- “A worldview filters out information that does not seem relevant to your view of the world.”
- “A worldview filters what you allow in to your awareness through interpretive layers.”
Skill 1 Progression:
- Being able to effectively describe your own belief system.
- Recognize that your world-view is not the only legitimate one.
- Appreciate its importance and its limitations.
- Develop humility about your own beliefs.
- Hold a nonjudgmental space in which you are not imposing your beliefs on others.
Skill 2: Awareness of Life Purpose/Mission (“Why am I here?”)
“The second skill focuses on your awareness of your life’s purpose, your mission, vocation, calling—whatever term you prefer. Clarifying your mission is central to self-knowledge—knowing not just who you are, but why you are here.“
- “Maslow saw the discovery and fulfillment of one’s life-purpose as not just a source of delight, but as a ‘need’ in the same way that hunger is a need. He termed this the need for ‘self-actualization,’ which ‘refers to man’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him to become actually what he is potentially: to become everything one is capable of being.'”
Skill 2 Progression:
- Begin with the simple aspiration to live in alignment with one’s purpose.
- The ability to identify one’s own gifts and talents.
- Describe one’s life-mission.
- Examine one’s choices and actions in light of that mission.
- To be stable in that mission in the face of great challenges.
Skill 3: Awareness of Values Hierarchy (“How will I choose my priorities?”)
“A value is something you feel is important enough to base actions and decisions on. The reason I like this definition is that it makes the point that a value is something you act on. If you say that you value your health, but you don’t eat well or take care of your body, then it is not a real value. At best, it is an aspirational value. Lived values, on the other hand, are backed up by choices and actions, and if we want to see our values, we simply need to look at the choices we make and the actions we take.”
- “Ideally, your values should be consciously chosen, not simply handed down from those who came before.”
Skill 3 Progression:
- You simply understand the importance of having values.
- You then develop the ability to know and articulate your values more specifically.
- You evolve a capacity to connect those values to your Higher Self.
- To order them in a hierarchy.
- Align with them easily, even if the consequences are difficult to see or cause sadness.
Skill 4: Complexity of Inner Thought (“Can I handle the complexity of life?”)
“Complexity of Inner Thought points to the ability to hold nuance and complexity.”
Skill 4 Progression:
- The first level of this skill includes the recognition that ‘rules are guidelines and sometimes a higher principle requires that I break the rules.’
- Develop the ability to recognize elements of truth in conflicting points of view.
- Embracing and even enjoying paradox and mystery, which are central to mysticism.
- Holding the tension of opposites can create ‘third options’ which creatively take everyone to a new level.
- Higher levels of development in this skill take us into territory where we begin to develop the ability to consider multiple points of view in decision-making, and understand that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are not simple matters.
⭐ Skill 5: Awareness of Ego self/Higher Self (“Who is driving my life?”)
“Skill 5 is about shifting your attention from the voice of your ego self to the voice of your Higher Self. Most of us experience the voice of the ego as the dominant voice inside our heads.”
- “The bottom line is that if you’re going to be more spiritually intelligent, you need to act less from your ego and more from your Higher Self. And in order to make that shift, you first need to learn to identify the ‘voices’ of the two different parts of yourself.“
- “I am not advocating getting rid of the ego. Nor do I make it ‘the enemy.’ It is a necessary part of us that has helped us evolve as far as we have, and it contains many functions that are useful and needed in the world.”
- “Let’s pause here for a moment and admire the beauty of nature’s process. The fact that we individuate at all is amazing. Developmental theorists tell us that this very capacity is a fairly recent emergence in human history.”
- “Unless we have done a lot of personal growth, our ego is generally providing a partial and ultimately unsatisfying view of life. We need to mature our ego and place it in service to our Higher Self. As we do this, we are actually moving into the higher stages of ‘ego development.’“
Skill 5 Progression:
- I have a basic understanding that an ego self exists and that how it reacts to things is a result of my personal experiences since birth, including the influence of my family and my culture.
- I can observe my own ego in operation. I understand there is a difference between the desires of my ego and of my Higher Self.
- I can recognize the situations and types of people that trigger my ego self to want to take charge. I recognize the signals my body gives me when my ego has been triggered.
- I can consistently hear the voice of my Higher Self. This may be a ‘felt sense’ in the body, or an auditory or visual experience, or a combination. I may not hear it often, but I know it when I do. I am learning to listen to it. I understand how my thoughts and beliefs are creating the anger or fear I feel.
- The voice of my Higher Self is now the principal voice I hear. Ego is now in joyful service to Spirit. I no longer feel a ‘tug of war’ between these two parts of myself.
Quadrant 2: Universal Awareness (Know the World — Skills 6-11)
“Spirituality is the ‘innate human need to be connected to something larger than ourselves—something we consider to be divine or sacred.’ The essence of this quadrant is connecting with that ‘something larger.’ We do this through relaxing our normal ego-boundaries, those boundaries whereby we defend our own narrow worldview. We begin to see the beauty of other worldviews. We grow more humble. We expand our sense of time and space. We can connect to the interconnectedness of all life as well as with a sense of awe and wonder at the vastness of the universe. And we learn to experiment with and live from a deeper set of spiritual principles than we might have lived from before … Spiritual Intelligence is about learning a set of skills that can help you navigate the world with greater wisdom and compassion. Before you can navigate the world, you need to understand the world. That is what the skills in this quadrant focus on.“
Skill 6: Awareness of Interconnectedness of Life
“Modern science is now increasingly able to demonstrate what mystics have always intuited. The relatively new discipline of ecology is one of the most obvious scientific expressions of the interconnectedness of biological life.”
- “We now know what our forefathers and mothers were not able to know: that our simple, everyday choices, such as the kind of car we drive, how we dispose of our waste, or the products we purchase, directly affect people and places we may never have any direct contact with.”
Skill 6 Progression:
- Respect for human life and empathy for others.
- Respecting organic life and animal life.
- Understanding and feeling connected to the earth as a living ecosystem.
- Making choices to live a sustainable lifestyle.
- At the very highest level, the SQ21 asks if you believe the universe is not only an interconnected system, but an intelligent system. You may choose to call that intelligence God or some other name or you may give it no name and just consider it ‘Life,’ but whatever you call it, acknowledging that interconnectivity and intelligence is the most advanced expression of this critical skill.
⭐ Skill 7: Awareness of Worldviews of Others
“Perhaps the most important skill in this quadrant. It is very closely related to Skill 1: Awareness of Your Own Worldview.”
- “As previously noted, a worldview is the framework of beliefs and ideas through which we interpret the world around us—beliefs and ideas that have been shaped by the culture in which you have grown up, including your religious background, your ethnicity, and many other factors. It is the lens through which you look at the world. And once you have gained the foundational awareness of your own world-view, you are in a position to understand and appreciate the world-views of others.”
Skill 7 Progression:
- I listen to differing points of view, even when they oppose mine.
- I seek opportunities to learn about and understand other points of view.
- I understand other people’s points of view and ‘tune in’ to their feelings even during a conflict. I want to understand their thoughts AND their feelings.
- I have compassion for the hopes and fears that we all share, regardless of our worldviews. I can demonstrate to people that I understand their feelings. I have considered the many possible worldviews and have chosen a worldview from which to operate.
- When I learn a better way of looking at things I revise my own worldview. Through compassionate understanding I can put myself inside the worldview of anyone—including murderers and terrorists. Other people feel that I really do understand their point of view.
Skill 8: Breadth of Time Perception
“How big is your perspective, temporally? The ability to ‘think big’ is an important spiritual skill, because the bigger the context in which you can see your own life, the more informed your choices and actions are.”
- “Let’s ‘zoom out’ even further. Consider the fact that only very recently has science been able to look all the way back to the birth of the universe. Human beings even a generation ago could not have seen their lives in a fourteen-billion-year context, but now we can. This is truly remarkable. We can see how from an explosion of hot gas came the galaxies and planets and eventually organic life. Contemplating the time-space enormity of the universe is both inspiring and humbling. Humility is a very important step toward unseating the ego, which likes to see itself as the center of the universe.”
Skill 8 Progression:
- Awareness of one’s personal history—one’s own life and one’s parent’s lives.
- Then we slowly expand, looking at human history, the history of the earth, and the history of the cosmos.
- At the higher levels this skill also takes into account the ability to experience variations in our perception of time—moments of transcendent timelessness, as well as our ability to project the impact of our choices many generations into the future. So this skill requires complexity of thinking because it is paradoxical—it asks you to live your life knowing that your choices in every moment are very important (they may impact others today and far into the future) and at the same time that your life is an infinitesimally tiny piece of the whole story of the universe.
Skill 9: Awareness of Limitations/Power of Human Perception
“Understanding that there are things you are not able to perceive with your five senses is a foundation for humility, the first step toward spiritual behavior. The greater your ability to appreciate that perception is inherently flawed, and to understand how your perception creates your own ‘reality,’ the more likely you are to act wisely.”
Skill 9 Progression:
- At higher levels of this skill you learn to value intuition as a source of knowledge to help balance the flawed sensory process. You learn to marry these intuitive senses—which some might call spiritual insight—with your five physical senses.
Skill 10: Awareness of Spiritual Laws (or “universal principles”)
“This skill is an inquiry into and an awareness of how things ultimately work. If you want to develop spiritual intelligence, it is important to have an experimenter’s mind in trying to understand the interior and exterior worlds and grasp more deeply how things work.”
- “I define spiritual laws as spiritual rules, teachings, or ideas that either explain the right way to live or offer guidelines for how human beings can achieve happiness and inner peace. Spiritual laws, in the way I understand them, fall into the domain of metaphysics, which basically means things that are beyond the laws of physics as it exists today—things we can’t measure or explain yet.”
- “Simple spiritual principles tend to be more outer-world-focused and action-oriented. Included in this category are ethical teachings, rules, or commandments about what we should do in the world. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ would be an example, as is the Golden Rule found in various forms in all the major religious traditions: ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ Ideas about divine justice, karma, and redemption also fall into this category.”
- “Complex spiritual principles tend to be inner-world-focused and being-oriented. Complex spiritual principles tend to teach us how to be in the world. ‘Live in the ever-present moment of Now’ is one such principle we often hear. Ideas such as ‘my thoughts have power,’ a belief in the healing power of prayer, or an awareness of synchronicity all fall into this category.”
- “When it comes to measuring this skill of Awareness of Spiritual Laws, the SQ21 focuses on how you are engaging with the spiritual principles you have identified rather than what those principles are.”
Skill 10 Progression:
- Simply aspirational: ‘I want to live a spiritual life.’
- Understanding the basic spiritual rules of your own tradition or culture.
- Deepening your understanding of these principles by living them and observing the results.
- Ability to apply them effortlessly even under stress.
Skill 11: Experience of Transcendent Oneness
“I have focused on this particular experience because it appears to be a near-universal element of religious and mystical teachings and paths, across the boundaries of time, culture, and place.”
- “Such experiences are often characterized as moments when Spirit ‘breaks through’ the veil of ordinary consciousness and we see through the appearance of separation and multiplicity to the unity that lies beneath the surface.”
- “However they are described, these profound, awe-inspiring moments of connection are deeply nourishing. Some of us may find we easily connect to this dimension while others tend more toward the concrete and rational and are less likely to access such experiences with ease.“
- “The way we measure this skill in the SQ21 is to look at a graduated series of experiences and their frequency.”
Skill 11 Progression:
- Moments of ‘flow’ or inspired creativity, where you are so focused on and absorbed by what you are doing that time seems to fly by, or ‘peak’ experiences of unexpected pure joy. Such moments are baby steps in the direction of transcendent oneness—our habitual self-focus falls away for just a little while and we experience relief and freedom from the noise of the ego.
- Move from random experiences to regular experiences
- The ability to enter such states at will and integrate their wisdom into our life choices.
Quadrant 3: Self/self Mastery (Skills 12-16)
“This quadrant comes after self-awareness in the SQ21 model, because we cannot master what we cannot see. In the Self-Awareness quadrant we talked about learning to identify your ego and Higher Self as well as clarifying your personal mission and values. This quadrant builds on those skills, teaching you how to shift ego out of the driver’s seat and allow your Higher Self to take control. It teaches you how to live according to the mission and values you have chosen and how to stay centered and peaceful even during difficult times. As you put these Mastery skills into practice, you will find that they reflect back on the Awareness skills (Quadrants 1 and 2), deepening your understanding of who you are, your values, and the world around you.”
Skill 12: Commitment to Spiritual Growth
“Commitment is foundational for any kind of development, and spiritual development is no exception. How do you measure commitment as a skill? In the SQ21 we focus on ways in which commitment to spiritual growth is demonstrated in action.”
- “We all have a worldview and we all have a belief system associated with that worldview. So recognizing your belief system of origin and entering into a more conscious dialogue with it can be a tremendous step in a commitment to spiritual growth.”
- “Even more common than not recognizing one’s belief system of origin is a conscious rejection of that belief system as a result of old wounds.”
⭐ Skill 13: Keeping Higher Self in Charge
“Skill 13 is a critical skill because it is this skill that allows us to not only get the upper hand over our egos; it allows us to keep our Higher Selves in charge.”
- “One key to this skill is understanding the relationship between thought, emotion, and action. This is why the skills in Quadrant 1 are so essential as a foundation. You need to know that certain ego-thoughts create emotional reactions, and that if you let such thoughts run rampant you will increase the emotional reactions that often include anger, blame, fear, and victimization. An essential part of self-mastery, of keeping the Higher Self in charge, is taking ownership of this process so that you short-circuit that egoic cycle. You learn how to interrupt the flow of ego thoughts and put your Higher Self in charge of your thoughts, words, and actions.”
Skill 13 Progression:
- I can occasionally identify when I am acting from ego and I understand that acting on ego will not get me long-term satisfaction.
- I am unhappy with how ego handles things. I want my Higher Self to be in charge.
- I understand and can occasionally remember to use the skills to activate Higher Self and have it take over from the ego self.
- I am consistently able to activate Higher Self and interrupt ‘ego moments.’ I am successful in keeping Higher Self ‘in the driver’s seat’ most of the time.
- My Higher Self ‘muscle’ has been developed by consistent daily practice for a long time—it is now a habit. Higher Self is in charge, even in profoundly trying times or under pressure from ‘group think.’
Skill 14: Living Your Purpose and Values
“Skill 14 builds on Skill 2, in which you identified your mission or life purpose, and Skill 3, Awareness of Values Hierarchy. Because spiritual intelligence is all about how we behave, simply having a sense of purpose and values is not enough. A spiritually intelligent person lives her life in accordance with her purpose and makes choices based on her chosen hierarchy of values.“
Skill 14 Progression:
- At the most basic level, living your purpose and values can mean having the ability to explain and describe them, first to other people that you trust and then in settings where people hold very different points of view. After all, if you are not willing to speak freely about your values even with those you trust, how committed are you to those values?
- As you develop this skill it requires that you make values-driven, purpose-driven choices even when no one else is around to know about it. If they really are your values, you hold to them when no one is watching and when there is no praise or recognition to be gained.
- At the highest levels you are stand by your values at significant personal cost. Think about your job, for example. Would you give it up rather than compromise your values? What about your family and friends—would you be willing to lose their support in order to stand by your values? The most challenging question that the assessment asks with regard to this skill is: Would you make values-based choices even when your own life may be at stake?
Skill 15: Sustaining Faith
“This skill is about choosing to trust that in the long run life is purposeful, even when we cannot imagine what the purpose might be. This requires tremendous humility (supported by Skill 9) and an ability to hold a very large space and time horizon (Skill 8).”
- “A willingness to engage, humbly, in some form of surrender to the power of Life, to ‘all that is,’ is an essential aspect of sustaining faith in hard times.”
- “Another important part of sustaining faith is being able to see even the most difficult moments in life with gratitude, knowing that however challenging the moment is, this too could lead to benefit. You may not be able to see any possible gifts in the troubles you are experiencing, especially while you are in the midst of them, but you can reflect back on exceptionally difficult times in your life and see the unexpected gifts that came out of them. This can encourage you to surrender to what you cannot control and sustain your faith through the difficulties.”
- “A sense of meaning is critical to this skill. If we are to make it through the hard times without resorting to medications, denial, or addictions, we must have a ‘why’ to live for, something beyond our own survival.”
- “Spiritually intelligent people don’t avoid this pain; they confront it and find a deeper source of meaning and purpose for living.”
Skill 16: Seeking Guidance from Higher Self
“Skill 16, Seeking Guidance from Higher Self, is about developing easier access to the wisdom of the best part of you.”
- “Have you ever noticed that sometimes you just know what the right thing to do is, without knowing how you know? Or perhaps you have experienced moments of intuition, unexpected signals from your body, your thoughts, your feelings, or even your dreams, that have helped you make an important choice or given you much-needed direction. These are all ways that spirit, or your own Higher Self, communicates with you.“
- “We tend to be so locked into our narrow ways of thinking and our fixed perspectives on the world that we don’t hear the voice of our Higher Self, so it has to find these entry points—cracks in our consciousness where it can slip through and make its wisdom available to us.”
- “In SQ we seek to develop our openness to intuition and our sensitivity to its messages. The more we practice this skill, the more accurate we find our intuitions to be.”
Quadrant 4: Social Mastery/Spiritual Presence (Skills 17-21)
“This quadrant is in many ways the most complex, because the skills it contains build on the skills developed in previous quadrants. The skills that relate to social mastery and spiritual presence are in a sense the natural result of developing the self-awareness, universal awareness, and self-mastery. Skills in the fourth quadrant are accumulating all of the benefits of Quadrants 1, 2, and 3, which is why I sometimes refer to Quadrant 4 as an ‘outcome quadrant.’ While each of these skills is a specific piece of the Spiritual Intelligence puzzle, each of these also contains much of the whole. This is ‘advanced SQ’ where you begin to put all the pieces together.”
Skill 17: Being a Wise and Effective Teacher/Mentor of Spiritual Principles
“Teaching is much more than standing on a podium giving a lecture. In a sense we are all always teaching by how we show up, how we behave. So you may not see yourself as a teacher, but as long as you are a human being who is interacting with other human beings this skill is relevant to you.”
- “When it comes to teaching others, we can do so for many different motives. This is one way that I look at the progressive development of Skill 17—as a movement from lower motives to higher motives.”
Skill 17 Progression:
- The lower motives, for example, might be that you teach others out of a need to control how they think and behave.
- Pushing and controlling people doesn’t generally work—it merely activates the other person’s ego. If you have raised children you realize the limits of authoritarian methods. Becoming a magnetic attractor is much more effective when working with spiritual principles. This approach taps the Higher Self of the other person and they move towards what is highest and best for them. Effective teachers teach because they love the subject (in this case spiritual principles or spiritual intelligence) and they teach by being a positive role model. Our favorite teachers activate the ‘inner learner’ in us—they fire our curiosity and interest so that we are then energized to learn more.
- At the highest level of skill attainment you can teach by demonstrating—being—the change you (and possibly others) desire to experience in themselves and in the world around them. This does not require you to be perfect, because nobody is perfect; it means that you have integrity and you are consistent. What you teach others by words and how you behave (deeds) are the same. You walk your talk. You are peaceful, compassionate, and wise in times of stress, and your behavior during these times allows you to become a role model for others.
Skill 18: Being a Wise and Effective Leader/Change Agent
“Skill 18 is about being a wise and effective leader or change agent who helps other people, groups, and organizations navigate through changes in a way that results in good solutions, faster implementation of change, and less stress and grieving.”
- “What’s involved in being a wise and effective leader and change agent? This skill encompasses what it means to be a leader whether or not you hold that title. At a minimum, there are four key requirements for this skill: understanding all the parties; seeking win-win solutions; honoring the natural process; and ego-less (or Higher Self) participation.”
- “Being a wise and effective leader and change agent is a particularly complex and multidimensional skill that depends on many of the skills developed in the previous quadrants. You need to develop your awareness of self and world and master your own self to a significant degree to be in a position to embrace the demands of this kind of role and skillfully navigate the challenges it inevitably presents.”
- “A wise and effective change agent sees a failure as an opportunity to learn how to do better in the future.”
⭐ Skill 19: Making Compassionate and Wise decisions
“The general goal of Skill 19 is Higher Self or spirit-based decisions. And remember: not making a decision IS a decision. We all make decisions all the time: the question is which part of our self is driving these decisions.”
- “I have found that the ability to make decisions from your Higher Self comes down to three things: Listen to the ego but do not be ruled by it. ASK to see things with Love’s eyes. Act from wisdom and compassion.”
- “As we break down this skill into these component parts you can see how it relies on many of the preceding skills, particularly Skill 5, the awareness of ego self and Higher Self; Skill 13, the ability to keep your Higher Self in charge; Skill 7, awareness of the worldviews of other people; Skill 9, the awareness of the limitations and power of human perception; and of course, Skill 16, seeking guidance from Higher Self or spirit or source.”
Skill 19 Progression:
- I am able to make decisions that are compassionate toward myself. I am able to maintain a clear intention to develop and grow in SQ, while simultaneously not berating myself for not yet being ‘perfectly enlightened.’
- I am able to be compassionate toward children, spouses, relatives, and friends who are not working on their own growth in a manner or speed I might wish they were. I am able to let these significant people in my life grow as they will, knowing that I don’t really know what is highest and best for every person.
- I am able to be compassionate toward those who feel they are my enemy or who act to harm me. I set healthy boundaries around behaviors but don’t hate the person who is acting out. I use power wisely, carefully—and with loving intent.
- Universal and Higher Self awareness is so strong that my decision-making process always factors in the pain and suffering of other beings. Yet I am not paralyzed by this awareness. I take balanced actions that honor all beings.
- Universal awareness and strong connection with Higher Self means that my inner guidance is strongly and clearly felt. With steady self-mastery, my inner guidance is translated into wise and compassionate action, which seems to flow through me from Source or Life or my Higher Power as I understand it.
Skill 20: Being a Calming, Healing Presence
“Skill 20 is about your inner and outer equanimity or peace and the effect it has on others. Again, this skill is an outcome of many of the skills we have previously discussed. It is related to Higher Self or Spirit being more noticeably in charge of our lives.”
Skill 20 Progression:
- At the most basic level this skill may show up in the way others relate to you—people no longer try to engage you in gossip or victim stories, for example. If your Higher Self is consistently in charge people know instinctively that you’re not receptive to the ego’s drama.
- As you develop this skill, you will notice more ways in which your presence has a calming effect on others.
- At the highest level of this skill you and I become beacons for the Higher Selves of others. People who attain this degree of SQ seem to radiate love and non-judgment, and because of that other people near them are better able to access their Higher Selves. Win-win solutions to problems may spontaneously become apparent and others may say they feel profoundly peaceful in the presence of the person demonstrating mastery of this skill.
Skill 21: Being Aligned with the Ebb and Flow of Life
“Spiritually intelligent people understand this and learn to move with the flow of the life-process to draw on inner intuition, a sensitivity to their own bodies, and an awareness of the world around them to help them navigate. This can show up as an ability to sense when the timing is right for to act on something or to discern that obstacles that may arise in your path can have multiple meanings, none of which are predetermined.”
- “Body awareness is an important part of this skill. This is why it is one of the intersection points between SQ and PQ. To be aligned with the ebb and flow of life you need to be aligned with the energy flows in your own body. Our bodies are part of this material universe, and the universe is filled with energy flows, so tuning in to your body is a way of tuning in to the universe.”
Skill 21 Progression:
- As you develop this skill you recognize the difference between the blessings and distractions that appear in your path, and you may find that the right people and resources naturally appear when you need them. Synchronicities occur more frequently as you line up with the direction that the evolutionary impulse or direction of life and growth is flowing.
- At the highest level of this skill, you live joyfully in the eternal present moment. Who you are and what you do is an effortless dance. When spiritual intelligence is flowering at this level, you may sense that instead of you being the one who is doing something, it’s the universe that is doing something through you, and it is a joyful, beautiful dance.
Spiritual Weightlifting: 9 Steps to Shift to Higher Self
“What I call ‘deep leadership’ is a key human quality that each one of us should aspire to develop. Deep, authentic leadership means that we lead ourselves first. We lead ourselves to a deep inner self-awareness and an expanded awareness of the world around us. We build the multiple intelligences we need in order to be worthy of being emulated. And we do our spiritual weightlifting so that we can master ourselves and connect to and live from our highest self, guided by our highest purpose and values … A spiritually intelligent person learns to shift in the midst of the challenging moment to prevent the ego from driving her actions.”
Step 1: STOP (“insert pause here!”)
- “The first step is the simplest but often the hardest. In the midst of a challenging moment, can you stop? Can you ‘insert a pause’ between an event that has triggered something within you and the habituated response that is bursting to get out?”
Step 2: BREATHE
- “Take four or five long, slow, deep belly breaths.”
Step 3: ASK for help (from Higher Self, the Divine, or other people!)
- “You can ask your own Higher Self (you may call it your intuition or inner guidance) or even envision someone you trust and respect and ask them in an internal mental dialogue.”
Step 4: OBSERVE yourself (body, heart, mind)
- “We want to learn to OBSERVE three dimensions of our experience: body, emotions, and thoughts (Begin by paying attention to your body … Then move to your emotional state … Lastly, turn to your thoughts).”
Step 5: IDENTIFY and Embrace Ego-concerns
- “I like to enter fully into the perspective of the ego to see what it is afraid of and what might be true before I start discounting it … I am giving my ego a chance to speak to me as a separate voice (ego) addressing me (Cindy). This is a typical voice-dialogue technique in psychology—allowing the separate voices of the self to have a conversation. I didn’t know that when I began practicing this technique, but it turns out this is a powerful psychological and spiritual tool to increase self-awareness and self-development. Voice dialogue creates a separation that is helpful. I am not my ego; I have an ego. The more central self, ‘Cindy,’ can listen to ‘the voice of my ego.’ I can then talk back to it and say ‘Thank you. I know you are trying to defend us. And you are right to be worried about these things. You can relax now. I see what is going on and I will handle it. You can turn it over to me.’ … Treating the ego as an ally is more helpful than making an enemy of it.”
Step 6: LOOK DEEPLY for root causes of ego-concerns (Ask “Why?” 5+ times)
- “There are, according to Jungian psychologists, two root fears of the ego: abandonment and death, on one hand, and overwhelm and loss of identity (another form of death) on the other … Once you have identified the concerns of the ego, you need to dig deep to find its roots and understand why the particular situation is so highly emotionally charged. The way to do this is to keep asking your ego self, ‘Why are you afraid of that? What is really going on?'”
Step 7: REFRAME the situation (See with new eyes: the eyes of compassion and wisdom)
- “The art of reframing means to simply ask yourself: What else might be going on here that I don’t know? How could I see this differently? … When we interpret a situation, we are telling a story about it—we create an internal movie. There are the major and minor characters. We assign them motivations. We develop a primary and secondary storyline. There is a trajectory to the story. Often it is a good (me) versus evil (them) story with various sub-stories of allies and enemies. We create these stories and we believe them. In fact, we forget that we created them! We believe that what we created is just the way things are, and we believe the upset that results from these stories is an inevitable and logical outcome … We can go further and reframe the story to see it even more powerfully by answering this question: What would it take for ME to do the exact same thing to someone else?”
Step 8: REFOCUS on something to be grateful for
- “Our Higher Self suspends judgment—not assigning blame, assuming evil intentions, or going into drama. It evaluates what is going on far more objectively and neutrally. And most importantly, the Higher Self can see what is good in a situation. It can see what is ‘right with the world.'”
Step 9: CHOOSE a spiritually intelligent response
- “Finally, the most important step is to choose a spiritually intelligent response—a response that does not come from your ego’s survival-based reactions but from the wisdom of your Higher Self. The response could be as minimal as saying ‘thank you’ and moving on, unruffled. Minimal, yes, but it makes all the difference in the world.”
A Shortcut: S-O-U-L
“While I believe all the nine steps are important and should be practiced wherever possible to support your long-term development, I also appreciate that they may be too much for most people to remember or implement in heated moments or unexpected crises. Therefore, I came up with a shortcut that is more practical for daily use. This 4-step version is easy to remember, since its acronym spells S-O-U-L.”
- “S = Stop—interrupt the old habit pattern. Breathe. Ask Higher Self for help or Pray.”
- “O = Observe what is going on—step back—call on your Witnessing/Observing Mind.”
- “U = Understand that there is more here than the habitual understanding. See through their eyes.”
- “L = Loving (compassionate/wise) response, even if it is ‘I’ll get back to you.'”
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