Spiritual Intelligence

by Cindy Wigglesworth

Spiritual intelligence and human development

Spiritual intelligence is connected with the work of many prominent thinkers in the area of human development.

Carl Jung

Carl Jung’s work addressed the human impulse to become more fully developed and to live from what he called the authentic self. According to Jung, the goal of maturity is to connect with our own unique wisdom as well as the deepest wisdom in the universe (the collective unconscious) and, as a result, to live a more vibrant life.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow sought to understand the process that humans go through to become fully healthy and fully human... to become what he called ‘the real self’. Maslow originally said that the most fully developed human beings he found were those he called self-actualisers. Later in his research, he discovered a small group of people who went beyond self-actualising. He called these most highly developed people self-transcenders. These were people who transcended their individual egos and took a consistently larger perspective, focusing on how they could bring their unique skills and abilities to be of service to a larger purpose. They were naturally able to understand multiple points of view, to have low attachment to personal ‘ego needs’ and to hold a very long-term perspective.

In his book, The farther reaches of human nature, Maslow concluded that ‘man is a hierarchy of needs, with biological needs at the base of the hierarchy and spiritual needs at the top’, asserting that ‘The spiritual life is then part of the human essence. It is a defining characteristic of human nature.’

Maslow predicted that, as business succeeded in meeting humanity’s ‘lower level needs’, the higher-level needs would come to be increasingly important and would need to be addressed.

Interest in emotional and spiritual intelligence in the workplace is a sign that the ‘lower level needs’ (safety, security, self-esteem) have been, at least partially, met. The old quid pro quo system of ‘I work and you pay me’ reflected a lower-level need transaction. The higher-level need to move into a higher nature is now emerging. We are moving into a larger framework where ‘you versus me’ is replaced with ‘we’re in this together’.

There is more in on Maslow’s work as it relates to motivation.

Doing what you love...

Addressing spiritual development at work benefits everyone – including your employees and your business. Maslow said, ‘An interesting aspect of the B-values [being-values or transcender’s spiritual values] is that they transcend many of the traditional dichotomies, such as selfishness and unselfishness, flesh and spirit, religious and secular. If you are doing the work that you love and are devoted to the value that you hold highest, you are being as selfish as possible, and yet are also being unselfish and altruistic’.

A research study completed in 2008 demonstrated that higher levels of SQ correlate with higher levels of ego development. Interestingly, higher levels of ego development are marked by a decrease in identification with (or a transcendence of) the ego.