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Practical Intelligence: The Art and Science of Common Sense

ISBN: 978-0-470-44432-0
416 pages
February 2009, Pfeiffer
Practical Intelligence: The Art and Science of Common Sense (0470444320) cover image


Karl Albrecht’s bestselling book Social Intelligence showed us how dealing with people and social situations can determine success both at work and in life. Now, in this groundbreaking book Practical Intelligence, Albrecht takes the next step and explains how practical intelligence (PI) qualifies as one of the key life skills and offers a conceptual structure for defining and describing common sense.

Throughout Practical Intelligence, Albrecht explains that people with practical intelligence can employ language skills, make better decisions, think in terms of options and possibilities, embrace ambiguity and complexity, articulate problems clearly and work through to solutions, have original ideas, and influence the ideas of others. Albrecht shows that everyone’s PI skills can be improved with proper education and training and challenges all of us—from parents and teachers to executives and managers—to upgrade our own skills and help others develop their own PI abilities.

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Table of Contents


About the Author.

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.

MeetYour Biocomputer.

Brain Cycles, Brainwaves, Brain States, 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 intoYour Mind.

Resistance to Enculturation, a.k.a.“Crap Detecting”.

Cleanse Your Mind with a “Media Fast”.

Re-EngineeringYour 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 Dialog.

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 Axis.

Process Consciousness: 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 Axis.

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

TrustingYour Hunches: Re-OwningYour 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’s 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


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Author Information

Karl Albrecht is a management consultant, executive advisor, futurist, speaker, and author. As chairman of Karl Albrecht International, he oversees the practical application of his ideas through consulting, seminars, and publishing. He is a prolific writer and the author of the bestselling Service America!, The Northbound Train, Brain Power, The Power of Minds At Work, and Social Intelligence.

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