"Spirit," by whatever name, is not measurable. But skills like spiritual intelligence (SQ) skills can be measured. And measurement is useful -- it points to where we can grow and improve.
My belief in the value of measuring SQ was confirmed when I recently heard from a woman named Jane who had scored a "0" on one of the skills in my SQ21 spiritual intelligence assessment.
"It really got my attention in a way I would not have expected," Jane said. "I was shocked. Good grades and test scores have always been important to me." Initially it was a bit hard to take. But as Jane began to read the report that came with her scores, she saw a list of some possible reasons for her score. A moment of recognition occurred. She had deep wounds she was still carrying from the church she attended as a child. She left this church with anger in her heart. The report and coaching suggested she might want to heal the wounds from her past by trying to forgive and seeing what was good in her earlier church experience.
She prayed about it and opened herself up to the guidance of spirit. Eventually she took the steps to reconnect with the choir director and then the minister and his wife. She was astonished by what she experienced. "I had forgotten the love because I had focused for so long on my anger and pain," she said. "It was that 'zero' that opened the door to my readiness to listen to spirit and to find the courage to commit to opening up to a part of my past I was afraid to be with. I did need to go back, in some way, and allow healing to begin. I didn't even know this love was still in me."
I have heard a great many such stories over the years. There is nothing quite like the stark reality of a number to propel us into reflection and possibly into action.
As we look to another new year, I am planning my own focus area for personal growth. Perhaps you are doing the same? Here are some ideas if you want to plan for some SQ growth:
1. List the areas where you would like to improve. Some common areas: letting go of the past, forgiveness; focusing on what is good, gratitude; having patience with others; developing humility. Make your own list. Then pick the one idea which is most important and focus on that.
2. Measure your current status. This is like knowing your current weight before you start a diet. Consider if there is an assessment you might want to use to see where you are today so you can plan next steps and chart improvements. If there isn't one you can write out a paragraph about why you want to improve in this area. What do you want to stop doing? Or what are you trying to change?
3. What are your desired outcomes? Be as clear and specific as possible. For example: "I will know I am successful when I can go to my parents' house for dinner and not feel triggered." How will you feel when you successfully develop this skill? Use emotions words like "I will feel calm," or "I will feel joyful."
4. Find good tools or practices to help you achieve your goal. Is there a meditation, forgiveness or other practice you would like to learn or recommit to practicing? A book to buy? A workshop or retreat to attend?
5. Think about tangible ways to track your progress. Could you journal at the end of each day? Consider who could give you feedback about your progress; for example, could a loved one give you positive feedback when you show more patience than usual? Be clear about what kind of feedback you want -- if you find corrective feedback helpful, ask for it. If not, ask for positive feedback only.
6. Buddy-up. Find a friend who wants to grow too and provide cheerleading support for each other! Agree to a regular check-in for mutual support. Perhaps you can take the same class together?
Let me know in the comments what areas you are focusing on, and what tools work for you. Who will be supporting you?
Measurement is our friend. Let's set clear goals, measure fearlessly and grow abundantly in 2013!
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