Sarah Alexander, Spiritual Intelligence
Are You Spiritually Intelligent? Take the quiz and find out!
How Spiritually Intelligent are you? Do you rely on that little inner voice we call intuition to guide you in your life and career, or perhaps you’re letting your ego get in the way of your decision making?
Sarah Alexander lives in Surrey and is author of ‘Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership’ and ‘Spiritual Intelligence in Business’. These are guides to help us use our inner intelligence to make the most of our lives.
Sarah has devised a quiz to help you identify how strong your Spiritual Intelligence really is, and determine if you need to focus more on developing your Higher Self.
Answer the questions below to find out of you are Spiritually Intelligent – or if you need some extra help!
How much to you value quietness, reflection, contemplation and inner listening in your personal and professional life?
a) Not at all
b) I make time for this every day
c) I see the benefits of activities such as Yoga or Pilates in all aspects of my life.
When making an important decision, do you:
a) Decide based on what appears to be the logical and rational thing to do?
b) Take time to quieten your mind and decide based on the answer that your intuition is giving you?
c) Listen to the advice of others and decide based on their advice and what feels right.
Do you use achievement as a way of feeling more worthy?
a) Yes – I feel like I am a better person when I achieve something positive
b) No – I believe that my sense of worth is unrelated to what achieve
c) Sometimes - I occasionally feel the need to prove myself through achievement.
In your work or business, what is your main focus with people?
a) What can I gain from this person? How can I get them to do what I want?
b) How can I best support and bring out the best in people that I interact with?
c) How can I help this person change to be what I want them to be?
There is a major conflict at work. How do you resolve this conflict?
a) Let everyone sort it out amongst themselves
b) Focus on achieving a win-win for all parties involved, because Higher wisdom will ensure there will be one
c) Find a compromise through discussion, listening to everyone involved.
You have just been made redundant, following many years of work for the company. How do you react?
a) Do you feel worried, angry at the situation and become depressed, taking the rejection personally
b) Accept your fearful emotions, and recognise this as an opportunity for something better to emerge in your life
c) You feel fearful, hope that something better will come along and in the meantime desperately apply for any new roles.
You feel passionate about a certain issue in the world. Do you:
a) Complain about how awful the current situation is yet do nothing yourself to improve it
b) You work proactively to change the situation and willingly give your time or money to help it
c) Send a donation and then forget about it as time goes by.
You hear stories about murder, rape and abuse in the news. Do you:
a) Just listen with no reaction, because it is not directly affecting you or anyone you know
b) Send a prayer or positive energy to help the people involved and have compassion for how they must be feeling
c) Sympathise about how the people involved are feeling but feel disassociated because you’ve heard it all before.
How do you relax and unwind? Do you:
a) Sit in front of the TV with a glass of wine
b) Give yourself regular quiet time alone in meditation or contemplation
c) Go out with people whose company you enjoy and do things that make you feel good.
If you answered mostly As:
Your Spiritual Intelligence is not yet developed. Your thinking is still largely in line with your ego. This is the spiritual term for the part of you that takes control of your life based on your past conditioning. It could be beneficial to you personally and in your career if you acquired the skills to align with your unbiased Higher Self. If you listen to your Higher Self and its intuitive wisdom, rather than just acting from your logical thinking and desires, you will work more in-line with the Universe. This will ensure that you are where you are “meant” to be in your career, and could save you time and money.
To start your journey, take the time to regularly make an inner connection with yourself and your feelings, perhaps through listening to your breathing for 5-10 minutes a day.
You tend to have too much focus on yourself and may lack some understanding of how others are thinking and feeling. The more you take the time to understand the people surrounding you, the more you will work coherently together, and the happier and calmer your environment will be. Spend time contemplating how you can best help others thrive, rather than always going after what you want and need. Be willing to let go and move on when things don’t go your way.
If you answered mostly Bs:
You have a high level of Spiritual Intelligence. You apply this Intelligence in a lot of what you do, both personally and professionally. Invariably, you value and take time for inner reflection, contemplation and meditation. You depend on your Spiritual Intelligence to assist you in life’s challenges and you have faith in the strong inner guidance that you receive. You knowingly reap the benefits when you apply it in your career. You are aware of your inner worth and value, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. This allows you to work impartially for the greater good of your business. You enjoy supporting others evolve and seeing them be successful. And you have understanding and empathy for them and you are willing make a difference wherever you can. Well done on having this level of Spiritual Intelligence.
If you answered mostly Cs:
Your Spiritual Intelligence is growing. Generally you listen to, and follow, the guidance of your inner wisdom to the best of your ability. Yet, there are times when you find help in the advice of others because your guidance alone is not clear enough. Through regular meditation, your guidance will become clearer and you will have the trust to follow it.
You are understanding and compassionate when needed, allowing you to work well and empathise with others. You do your best to understand where others are coming from in their interactions, particularly when you have any problems or issues that you are dealing with. You invariably forgive people’s wrongdoings.
Developing your Spiritual Intelligence further will benefit you personally and professionally, allowing you to work in tune with the Universe’s wishes, and ultimately, for the greater good. These are qualities that create inspired, confident leaders. Remember to regularly take time out to reflect and listen to your inner wisdom. Keep up the good work developing your Spiritual Intelligence.
About Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander is author of ‘Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership’. Sarah runs one-to-one transformational programmes for business owners and leaders, guiding them to use their inner intelligence to make the most of their life's work. Sarah has worked with international sports competitors, executives from multinationals and successful entrepreneurs. sarah-alexander.co.uk
Follow on Twitter: @SarahAlexander_
Like on Facebook: facebook.com/SarahAlexander444
Read our interview with Sarah below!
What is spiritual intelligence?
Our Spiritual Intelligence is the vast resource of knowledge, wisdom and guidance that is within us all. This Intelligence can see beyond what appears to be logical and rational. It can see the wider picture for our lives individually, and how we collectively come together to form the larger universal plan. This Intelligence sees beyond the limited thinking and beliefs of our ego or personality to the inner brilliance that lies within us all. As a result, the guidance we receive from our Spiritual Intelligence is often ‘bigger’ than perhaps we would perceive for ourselves and our capabilities.
Our Spiritual Intelligence is constantly available to us and guides us via our gut feelings, inner hunches, and words that we hear (often from others), as well as visual cues that our attention seems to be continually drawn to. Our Spiritual Intelligence can give us both practical advice about any situation in our lives, and it can answer far reaching questions about the meaning of life.
What kinds of attitudes do you think people in Surrey have towards spirituality and leadership?
There is certainly a growing interest in spirituality in Surrey and amongst business leaders. I have had a very good response to my book Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership in the Surrey area. I think this interest is also seen in the growing attendance in Yoga and Meditation classes locally. Both focus on mindfulness, self-awareness and calming the mind, which will inevitably affect the lives of those that partake in these sorts of activities. They will naturally become more in touch with themselves and the situations around them. These classes can provide essential quiet time for people with hectic business careers, and allows them to go back to work with a refreshed, new perspective on their work. When people decide to implement what they learn from classes, for example with further specific coaching, the benefits reaped personally as well as professionally are invaluable.
What made you start writing about emotional and spiritual intelligence?
In the mid-1990s I became increasingly committed to meditation and I have since explored many different types of meditation techniques from around the world. As my meditation practice developed, I became aware that the guidance and sense of direction that I received from my intuition was growing in clarity. In 2009 I had the guidance to write about the value of this inner wisdom that was continually directing me and my business. The name that I sensed was the right name for this guidance (and the title of the book) was ‘Spiritual Intelligence’. The topic of Spiritual Intelligence embraces not only our emotional intelligence, but also the body’s innate intelligence and our mind’s learned intelligence. All of these intelligences come together to form a unique guidance system for us, and our lives.
Who inspires you?
I am really inspired by people who use their talents and gifts for the betterment of the world, and this is my definition of ‘Leadership’ for the 21st Century. There are many leaders who are demonstrating exactly this. I am currently inspired by Karen Armstrong, who is an English scholar, who has set up ‘The Charter for Compassion’ in 2008 after she won the TED prize. Through this she is determined to make the world a more compassionate place and she currently has much support from around the world for this thinking.
I am inspired hugely by Oprah Winfrey and all that she does, not only through her TV network to inspire people to greater lives, but also through her South African Leadership Academy for Girls. This Academy is dedicated to creating new leaders for South Africa with the same values that Mandela stood for.
I am also very inspired by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for her views on a girl’s right to education. She has recently won the Sakharov Prize for free speech, awarded by the European Parliament and is using it to continue to promote the rights of children in her country.
Do you think being a woman has an impact of what and how you write?
There are many books about spirituality written, with great success, by both men and women. My personal interest is around meditation and Spiritual Intelligence, and it is that interest that has been the focus of what I write about. Whilst more women seem to be interested in spirituality and spiritual thought, there are now a growing number of men who are both open and very committed to their practice of it.
When I was writing the book I used periods of meditation to clear my mind for writing. I too allowed my own inner Intelligence to guide me, not only in the words that I wrote, but also in the topics that I covered, the personal examples that I used, and the well-known figures that I have incorporated into the book that so clearly demonstrate the points I make. That was certainly the single most influential factor in terms of how I have written the book. So, no, I don’t believe being a woman has affected what or how I write.
What advice would you give to people who don’t feel confident about themselves or in control of their life (apart from to read your book!)?
My first tip for becoming more confident and in control of our lives is to become more self-aware. We do this by giving ourselves the time to step back and observe our habitual thinking, our reactions to people and situations, and our feelings that come up in us as a result of our thinking and reactions. We realise gradually how much of our thinking is negative, critical and judgemental of ourselves, which, in turn, leads us to feel bad about ourselves. As we begin to notice and stop these critical thoughts, and instead notice and focus on all that we do well, we start to become increasingly confident.
Secondly, by giving ourselves some time for inner reflection, contemplation and meditation, we become gradually aware of our highest and best Self. This Self is always at peace, feels confident, happy, joyous, and knows that we are capable of far more than we believe. As we listen to this Self, we automatically feel more courageous and trust the guidance that it is imparting to us.
Do you think you have to be spiritual to be truly satisfied?
People traditionally believe that material possessions and financial success lead us to feel satisfied. However, these feelings of satisfaction are usually short lived, and we find ourselves continually desiring more, in the hopes that the next thing will make us feel truly fulfilled.
I believe that our feelings of satisfaction and fulfilment come from giving the best of ourselves in service to others. We all have unique talents, gifts and skills that we can use in some small way to help others, or in a bigger way to build a business, charity or organisation. As we do this, we recognise that our satisfaction comes from within us, as well as from the things we give out into the world.
Much has been written recently in popular psychology about stereotypical business leaders tending to score higher on psychopathic traits such as ruthlessness. In your opinion are very successful people generally less spiritual? If so, should they be more spiritual?
I know of, and have worked with, many business leaders who are able to apply spiritual principals into the running of a successful business. These successful leaders are really aware of the value of all their employees and recognise that they bring success to business. These leaders do their best to focus not only on profit and gain, but also on the development and well-being of their staff and care for the environment. They also have an understanding of the needs of their suppliers, and, where they can, all the links within their business chain.
Certainly, we can look around and see a culture of ruthless business owners that are successful. Their lack of concern for others and the environment is clear, but gradually the wrong practices of these business owners are being exposed and drawn to public attention, and it is more difficult for them to continue in this manner.
I think of greater concern is the current culture in organisations of people working incredibly long hours and the thinking within an organisation that to fit in and succeed you must adhere to these 16 or 17-hour days. My concern is that long term people are unable to sustain this, and it leads to many stress-related illnesses that eventually take them out of the workplace. I would like to see a return to more productive working hours, shorter working days, and an effective awareness of human wellbeing within these big organisations. I believe what is necessary in business today is an awareness of the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of others, balanced with the need for business success.
Do you have any advice for women going into business?
My advice for women going into business is to have the courage to stand up for what you believe in and to assert who you truly are.
It is very easy, in the largely male-dominated business world, for women to try to become like men in order to be successful. In fact, I believe that true success comes from being who we inherently are, rather than moulding ourselves into what we think we need to be to become successful. This does take courage and yet, as women take a stand in business for what they believe in, they have the capability of being truly powerful and successful. And there are more and more women business leaders worldwide who demonstrate this who act as good role models for those starting up in business.
What have been the highs and lows of your career?
My first business started at a very low time in my life, when I had just lost both of my parents in fairly quick succession. With no brothers or sisters, I really had to learn quickly as a young adult how to stand on my own two feet and earn a living. I was, however, very keen on horse riding and training horses, and I used this passion for horses to set up a business training others. Like all start-ups it took a little time to get the business off the ground, and when you are putting the foundations of the business in place it can feel like a low and lonely point. As time went by this business flourished with a regular flow of clients and the business was a consistently profitable business. I had really good staff working for me who I could trust and I was able to take time out to follow my other interests because of its continued success.
The high point from this business was some of the coaching clients that I worked with as a result of my equestrian connections. They were both national and international competitors who were much respected as riders and it was a privilege to act as their sports psychology coach. I also worked with international golfers who valued my skills.
Once I had fully developed my current coaching business (which at first felt like a low in its developmental stage) I then went on and received regular contracts from a multi-national oil company that had me work with its high-level managers and leaders in the UK, Europe and the Far East. This gave me invaluable insight into leadership practices in a large organisation and also the ability to successfully coach high-level leaders.