Credited to psychologist Howard Gardner, the concept of multiple intelligences has been revised since it was first put forward back in the early 1980s. In short, it points to the fact that each of us possesses inherent abilities. These abilities often feel as though they come naturally to us and are therefore preferred.

For example, some people are musical while others enjoy math. Some of us are healers while others tend toward a more aggressive, protective role.

 Another key component of the multiple intelligence theory is that it proposes our abilities could supersede the concept of intelligence quotient (IQ), the widely accepted standard for how “smart” we are. This confirms something teachers have known for decades. As individuals, we are not accurately represented by a single, highly standardized number.

 Individuality is important because it offers us the lens through which any study and acceptance of multiple intelligence should be viewed: diversity of the mind, or neurodiversity.

 The idea of neurodiversity has traditionally been a social justice movement and therefore often appears within the context of autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. However, within the medical community, it increasingly encompasses the entire population for its ability to take into account the diversity of all people.

A recent article written by Dr. Nicole Baumer and Dr. Julie Frueh, published by Harvard Medical School, framed neurodiversity in the following way…1

“People experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.”

 This viewpoint is not limited to the medical community. It is also being adopted by employers looking to increase their competitive advantage through the diversity of their workforce. William T. Rolack, Sr. and Monique Gonggrijp-Bello, two senior executives for a leading workforce intelligence firm, had this to say in a recent piece appearing in the trade journal, BenefitsPRO…

 “Diversity and inclusion breed innovation – whether in the context of gender, race, sexual orientation, or cognitive functioning. The melding of a variety of backgrounds fuels unique perspectives and ideas to manifest, coming together to pave new paths and increase efficiency. The very definition of ND – diversity of thinking styles and abilities – is especially important for innovative decision-making.”

 This philosophy and the value it places on the unique perspective of each individual is central to the success of Whole Person Coaching. When we come to know and embrace our natural ways of thinking, we align ourselves holistically to leverage these strengths.

For this reason, one of the primary tasks of a Whole Person Coach is to facilitate a clear understanding of their client’s intelligence preferences. This enables that individual to discover what means most to them and where their efforts should be directed to achieve the most tangible differences in their levels of happiness, personal satisfaction, and sustainability.

  1. Nicole Baumer, MD and Julia Frueh, MD,What is neurodiversity,” Harvard Health: accessed February 13, 2023,