I had a conversation with a ten year old student the other day that, on reflection, would be beneficial for people of all ages. Essentially, she told me that she was dumb, that everyone in the class thought so and that she didn’t measure up. Heartbreaking, and akin to the feeling when you can’t get the moves in Zumba, or when your boss is going over numbers for the business and you’ve no idea what they’re talking about!

There is a tool used in the teaching profession called Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences . Howard Gardner of Harvard University outlines eight different types of intelligences including musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Or, in layman’s terms: music smart, art smart, words smart, number smart, body smart, people smart, self smart or nature smart.

Given that everyone has their own unique set of intelligences, it is important that we form relationships with people in work and outside it whose strengths complement ours. Everyone will have a chance to bring their ideas and skills to the table with confidence and leave their perceived limitations at the door for a more effective and productive working environment.

It is not the case that people shouldn’t work on their limitations, indeed, it is a noble goal to strive to better oneself. But it is important to acknowledge that if there is an area at work (or at play!) where you feel you don’t measure up it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there or that you can’t make a difference. You simply need to work out a way to use your personal intelligence in the most effective way to complement others and put your best foot forward.

Originally published at www.7stepstothrive.com.

Originally published at medium.com