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The 21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence

Posted by Simon Blackhall, PCC | October 14, 2019 | Comments (7)

It is estimated that on average we lose 10-30% of every day to ego-driven drama. That’s between five weeks to four months every year; that’s between seven and 21 years of an adult lifetime. What could be done with that time instead? And more importantly how can we minimize—if not eliminate—this waste of time and energy?

In my own journey as a truth seeker and in my capacity as a coach supporting individuals and organizations, I have come to acknowledge the power of Spiritual Intelligence—the cutting edge in the field of Multiple Intelligences—and how its development can balance the Ego and make it more of a variable than an absolute.

We have been familiar with the Intellectual Quotient (IQ) for over a century now.

And in 1995, Daniel Goleman unveiled the 18 skills of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), demonstrating how—given a similar level of IQ—it is the mastery of these competences that separates the star players from the average players.

Twenty-five years later, developing Emotional Intelligence is acknowledged as being of foundational importance.In 2003, Cindy Wigglesworth unveiled the 21 skills of Spiritual Intelligence (SQ21). Her pioneering efforts illuminated a territory that was previously shrouded in the mist and created distinctions in language by which we could see and navigate this domain.

What Is SQ?

SQ is defined by Wigglesworth as, “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation Exemplars of a highly developed SQ are the likes of Mandela and Gandhi to name but a few.

Created with a conscious effort to make it a faith friendly, faith neutral and atheist friendly framework, SQ21 is not about religion nor about beliefs. Your beliefs are your beliefs. SQ21 is about behaviors that matter for personal and professional leadership. It’s a road map for anyone who is ready and willing to move beyond the confines of the ego-self and become a powerful and positive change agent in this world.

Alongside a rigorously validated assessment that measures your development related to each skill, accompanied by a 20+ page report, this framework also offers the possibility to debrief and continue the dialogue with a certified SQ21 coach.

Why Is SQ Important?

(SQ21 Skills are highlighted in bold below)

  • As we learn to distinguish between Ego Self and Higher Self and to keep Higher Self in charge, we become progressively more aware of our triggers and less reactive, thereby saving significant amounts of commotion, time and energy.
  • Our actions become purpose and value driven, as we increase our Awareness of Life Purpose and Awareness of Values Hierarchy.
  • The more we develop our awareness of the interconnectedness of all life, the more we strengthen our ability to be a wise and effective change agent. And as it becomes clear to ourselves and others that we are not just self-serving, our influence and power to impact reality increases exponentially. This makes for outstanding leaders and team members.
  • Creativity, learning and problem solving are highly inhibited when we are in turmoil. Learning how to quickly shift back into a calmer, wiser and more compassionate space can hugely increase our ability to find solutions.
  • The Global Peace Index 2019, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, reveals how “peace is dynamically associated with economic development.” It’s easy to see how peace drives economic growth on a national and global scale. But we have not yet made the connection that the same is true at the group and individual level. Developing our Spiritual Intelligence has a direct impact on our ability to build wealth and our bottom line.

Why Is SQ Important Now?

In the next 10 years, SQ will achieve the heights of EQ, for a number of factors:

  • Millennials will comprise 50% of the workforce and the largest consumer class by 2020. By 2030 they will be 75%.  They have four major priorities:
    1. People
    2. Planet
    3. Purpose
    4. Profit
  • As we are seeing with Greta Thunberg and her peers, the new generations are demanding a much higher level of leadership.
  • Ego interference in relationships will progressively become a handicap; the ability to keep Higher Self in charge and bring the best of the mind and the best of the heart to every interaction will become a highly sought-after competitive advantage—personally and professionally.
  • The global challenges that we are facing demand that we evolve to a higher level than the one that created the problem in the first place.

While climbing the mountain in one go is overwhelming and impossible, breaking it down into practical, concrete and feasible steps makes the journey both believable and achievable. This is why this work was created.

May we all rise to the challenge and lead each other into the future.


©2019 Simon Blackhall. All Rights Reserved.


Simon Blackhall, ACC, will share further steps during the breakout session “The 21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence” at ICF Converge 2019, which is taking place October 23-26 in Prague, Czech Republic. Join his session in the Practice content group on Friday, October 25 at 4:00 p.m. (local time). By attending this session, you can earn 0.5 CC/0.5 RD in Continuing Coach Education units.

simon blackhall headshot

Simon Blackhall, PCC

Simon Blackhall, PCC, founder of ANIMA, is a Consciousness Coach, a Yoga Teacher, a Mentor and a Speaker. A member of the International Coach Federation, he trained in several coaching modalities and is certified in Creative Consciousness, Clean Language & Metaphors and Spiritual Intelligence. He’s been a speaker at the European Co-Active Coaching Community Day in London and at the ICF UK-Russia conference. His collaborations and clients include the Advanced Management and Leadership Program at the SAÏD Business School of Oxford, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BDO LLP, the Royal College of Art and the BBC. Simon co-facilitates the UK & Ireland hub of Spiritual Intelligence Coaches. In July 2018, he was named in the Coaching Top 50 by CV Magazine. His mission as a coach and teacher is to co-create the expansion and higher for this unfolding world by holding a space of truth and light in which others can come forth. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Additionally, for the purpose of full disclosure and as a disclaimer of liability, this content was possibly generated using the assistance of an AI program. Its contents, either in whole or in part, have been reviewed and revised by a human. Nevertheless, the reader/user is responsible for verifying the information presented and should not rely upon this article or post as providing any specific professional advice or counsel. Its contents are provided “as is,” and ICF makes no representations or warranties as to its accuracy or completeness and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law specifically disclaims any and all liability for any damages or injuries resulting from use of or reliance thereupon.

Comments (7)

  1. says:

    It is so great to see Spiritual Intelligence finally being presented and discussed through ICF. So great to see you presented at ICF Global Converge Simon. This is really well done and a wonderful introduction to the gifts the 21 skills of Spiritual Intelligence gives us as coaches and working with leadership at a whole new level. I encourage coaches who are interested in bringing these skills of SQ into their lives and coaching practices to check out for the training or Cindy Wigglesworth and I spoke at the ICF Houston chapter last month and this was well received. This work has changed the way I practice and continues to add to my own growth personally as well.

  2. Margareta Daunius says:

    Simon, this is the best piece of writing and message I have read in my life. I can’t say it any more clearer. I have been around to read many things and I have been looking to express what I see and feel… and here it is! I am so greatful. Thank you.

  3. Lynne O’Neil says:

    Thanks Simon what a very encouraging read. It was interesting and comforting to hear that Spiritual Intelligence may be moving towards a much higher profile in our changing world. Just as Emotional Intelligence has reached more significant heights recently I’m so pleased that Spiritual Intelligence is heading in the same direction. What a positive future we may encounter, I’m looking forward to it.

  4. says:

    Thank you Simon. I was really intrigued by your article. I studied Spiritual Psychology and use that modality in my coaching. I will be sharing your article in a group I run where we work on applying Spiritual Psychology to our every day living. It’s very much about consciousness and resolving unresolved issues in the consciousness. Thank you…

  5. The 21 st century will be Spiritual!

  6. Tex Hooper says:

    I think you are right about having a higher sense of self. My sister died and I want to feel closer to her. I’ll have to contact a psychic for spiritual communication.

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