Book: Practical Intelligence

the Art & Science of Common Sense

by Karl Albrecht

According to Dr. Karl Albrecht, one of the world's leading authorities on mental competence:

"For the first time in the history of our species, our environment is evolving faster than our brains. And most of us know more about the electronic computers on our desks than we know about the biocomputers we carry around in our heads.
"But recent findings from three fruitful areas of study — brain research, psychotherapy, and information systems — have given us an exciting new window into the workings of the competent human mind. Not only can we define and describe what effective thinking is, in simple street language, but we can also learn and teach its habits and methods."

In this ground-breaking book, he shows how the dimension of practical intelligence - the ability to use your gray matter skillfully — is key to success at work and in personal life.

The breakthrough work of Harvard's Professor Howard Gardner has legitimized the notion that human intelligence is not just a single trait (IQ) but a constellation of capabilities. Now, Karl Albrecht explores the dimension of practical intelligence and builds it into a full-fledged topic and a body of knowledge.

Praise for Practical Intelligence:

— Daniel Pink, author, A Whole New Mind:
"Karl Albrecht has done an excellent job of integrating the many dimensions of practical intelligence into a coherent, sensible framework. This is an eminently practical book."


Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, co-developer with Alex Osborn of the Creative Education Foundation:
"What could be more important than helping people, at every age and stage of life, learn to use their minds more successfully? Karl Albrecht has given us a terrific resource for doing just that. His four 'software upgrades' and four 'mega-skills' provide a wonderfully comprehensive framework for practical intelligence."
Jean Houston, researcher, author, The Possible Human:

"This brilliant, ebullient, and brainy book brings us new meanings to gray matter. At turns high-minded and hilarious, Practical Intelligence will remain the source book for many years of the best thinking about thinking well."




1. A Problem and an Opportunity

Accidental Intelligence: the "Terminal Assumption"
The Widening "Smart Gap"
The Dumbing of America and the Culture of Amusement
Knows and Know-Nots: the New Social Divide
Who Cares? Who Needs to Care?

2. Multiple Intelligences: the Possible Human

IQ Doesn't Tell the Whole Story
There are at Least Six Kinds of "Smart"
Building Out: Applying Theories to Everyday Life
Build-Out 1: Emotional Intelligence
Build-Out 2: Social Intelligence
The Next Build-Out: Practical Intelligence

3. What is Practical Intelligence?

Thinking is a Bodily Function
Meet Your Biocomputer
Braincycles, Brainwaves, Brainstates, and the Daily Trance
Mindmodules: You Have Many "Minds"
Mindmodels: Your Portable Reality
Four Habits That Unlock Your Mental Capacity
Four Dimensions of PI: Your Mega-Skills
Getting Started: Upgrading Your Mental "Software"

4. Mental Software Upgrade 1: Developing Mental Flexibility

Are You a Finished Product?
Dynamic Thinking and Archaic Thinking
You Might Be a Mental Redneck...
The Creative Paradox
The "Beginner's Mind": Innocence and Humility
The "Plexity" Scale
There is No Truth - Only Your Truth, His Truth, Her Truth, Their Truth...
How I Learned to Stop Arguing With People
A New Way to Think About Opinions
Three Phrases That Can Keep Your Mind Open

5. Mental Software Upgrade 2: Adopting Affirmative Thinking

Cleaning Out the Attic: Mental Decontamination
"Sensorship": Choosing What You Will Allow into Your Mind
Resistance to Enculturation, a.k.a. "Crap Detecting"
Cleanse Your Mind With a "Media Fast"
Re-Engineering Your Attitudes
The Attitude of Gratitude
The Attitude of Abundance
Practical Altruism
Meditation, Mindmovies, and Affirmations

6. Mental Software Upgrade 3: Adopting Sane Language Habits

Language as Mental Software: What You Say is What You Think
How Language "Packages" Your Thoughts
Jumping to Confusions: Inferential Thinking
"Clean" and "Dirty" Language: Strategies for Semantic Sanity
Expressions You Can Remove From Your Vocabulary
The Self-Conversation: Cleaning Up Your Internal Dialogue
Snappy Comebacks: The Language of Funny

7. Mental Software Upgrade 4: Valuing Ideas

Do You Have Lots of Good Ideas (Almost Everyone Does)
"It Slipped My Mind..." (Almost Everything Does)
The Greatest Thinking Tool Ever Invented
Thinking in Pictures
Are You a Yes-Person or a No-Person?
The "P.I.N." Formula: Protecting Ideas
Using Your Magical Incubator
"Metaboxical" Thinking: Breaking the Boundaries

8. Mega-Skill 1: "Bivergent" Thinking

The Divergent-Convergent Polarity: the D-C Axix
Process Conciosness: Managing the "Pivot Point"
GroupThink: the Collusion to Fail
Brainstorming: More Often Talked About Than Done
Systematic Creativity: the Balancing Act

9. Mega-Skill 2: "Helicopter" Thinking

The Abstract-Concrete Polarity: the A-C Axix
Visionaries and Actionaries: We Need Both
Connecting the Dots: You Have to See Them to Connect Them
Painting the Big Picture: Mindmapping
Explaining the Big Picture: Using the Language of Ideas

10. Mega-Skill 3: "Intulogical" Thinking

The Logical-Intuitive Polarity: the L-I Axis
Thinking Styles: Yours and Others'
Sequential Thinking: Re-Owning Your Logical Abilities
Trusting Your Hunches: Re-Owning Your Intuitive Abilities
The "Zen Mind": Flow and Mindfulness

11. Mega-Skill 4: "Viscerational" Thinking

The Rational-Emotive Polarity: the R-E Axis
First We Decide - Then We Justify: Irrational Thinking Explained
We're All Neurotic, and That's OK
The Five Primal Fears We Live By: the Psychology of Risk
Signal Reactions: Disconnecting Your Hot Buttons
Emotions and Health: If It's on Your Mind, It's on Your Body
Can You Motivate Yourself? The "Popeye Point"

12. How to Become an Expert Problem Solver

Forget Those "Five Steps" They Taught You
Using Heuristic (a.k.a. Natural) Problem Solving
Your Five Key Mindzones
The High Speed Problem Solving Process

13. Success Programming: Causing the Outcomes You Want

Using What We've Learned
MIndmovies: Who's Producing Your Life Story?
Alpha Programming: Making the Movies You Want
Your Life Wheel: Taking Stock, Setting Priorities, and Making Changes


A. Answers to Thinking Exercises
B. Fifty Tips for Better Thinking
C. A Vocabulary for Practical Intelligence
D. A Code of Intelligent Discourse
E. Learn to Meditate in "One" Lesson: the Harvard Mantra

Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2007