Q: How did you and Claire Dale come up with the idea for this book?
A: The team at Companies in Motion had been delivering Physical Intelligence coaching and training for several years, based on a combination of Claire’s and my background in the arts and our professional experience, as well as extensive neuroscientific research that reinforced what we had discovered through firsthand experience – namely, the positive impact techniques we learned as artists has on performance well beyond the stage.
In the course of delivering that corporate training and coaching, we determined that too many of the decision makers we were meeting were completely unfamiliar with the concept of Physical Intelligence.
That’s not entirely surprising because while the term “physical intelligence” was first used by Howard Gardner in 1983 in his landmark book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, (where he established our initial understanding of different intelligences), it remains largely unknown outside of a small group of people who are movement specialists or experts in embodied cognition.
We decided that writing the book would help us create a broader awareness of what Physical Intelligence is and also help increase its credibility given that so much of the underlying research isn’t well known or generally viewed as a whole – a collective body of knowledge.
Q: How would you define physical intelligence?
A: Over 400 chemicals (neurotransmitters and hormones) are racing through each of our bodies (in our bloodstream and nervous system) at any given time. Those chemicals largely dictate how we think, feel, speak, and behave. Most of us operate at the mercy of those chemicals, experiencing thoughts, reactions, and emotions without realizing that we can strategically influence (some of) them.
Physical Intelligence is the ability to detect and actively manage the balance of certain key chemicals – through how we move, breathe, think and interact with each other – so that we can achieve more, stress less, and live and work more happily.
While the term Physical Intelligence may be new to many, the techniques have been used for decades, with many drawn from the worlds of sports and the arts and all supported by neuroscience.
There are four elements of Physical Intelligence:
Strength: inner strength, confidence, resolve
Flexibility: creativity and innovation; collaboration
Resilience: Bouncing back from adversity and conflict; remaining optimistic
Endurance: Sustaining effort over the long haul; perseverance, planning, and patience
… and eight chemicals that we can and should work to influence (Acetylcholine, Adrenalin, Cortisol, DHEA, Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Testosterone), each with its own signature feeling. When that chemical balance is right, we call it the Winning Cocktail.
Q: What do you see as the relationship between physical intelligence and emotional intelligence?
A: Literally hundreds of studies have proven that how we use our body impacts our cognitive and emotional intelligence. Our bodies and brains are inextricably linked. Physiology drives our performance.
For example, neuroscience tells us that open, expansive body posture improves our confidence and risk taking, that we are 45 percent more likely to have an innovative idea while walking rather than seated, that paced breathing can enhance cognitive function by 62 percent, and that high trust cultures increase oxytocin levels and in high oxytocin cultures there is 76 percent more engagement, 106 percent more energy, 50 percent more productivity, 29 percent more satisfaction with our lives, 13 percent fewer sick days and 40 percent fewer cases of burnout.
That’s quite a lift from one chemical! There are countless other examples.
That data, as well as anecdotal evidence, indicate that Physical Intelligence doesn’t just sit alongside, but underpins our cognitive and emotional intelligence—our IQ and our EQ. The more physically intelligent we are, the more cognitively and emotionally intelligent we can be. Conversely, if we are not developing our physical intelligence, we are actually diminishing our IQ and EQ.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: We know that Physical Intelligence is relevant for every person on the planet—and our vision/dream is to introduce Physical Intelligence to those who are unfamiliar with it and inspire them to be aware of and grateful for their miraculous bodies. Through the book, we hope they will be armed to use their bodies to support their personal and professional aspirations and navigate their challenges.
What they take away from the book will differ by individual, but at a high level we would like them to feel that the book is a resource—a repository of information or user’s manual on how to more effectively use this incredible piece of technology that we each get to spend our days in—our body.
We want them to elevate the body in the list of life’s priorities and learn how to use it strategically to respond to the challenges and opportunities that surround us. We hope that they will develop a physical intelligence protocol, making physical intelligence part of each day, motivated to use their bodies to support their cognitive and emotional intelligences.
Our mission is to create a more physically intelligent world one person, team, and organization at a time.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: While Physical Intelligence is always relevant, it is especially relevant right now as people and organizations struggle to adapt to and manage the myriad challenges related to the pandemic, the political divide, social unrest, fires, floods, and more. People have been overwhelmed with stress and uncertainty.
We have been very busy working with individuals and corporations to help increase Physical Intelligence through talks, training sessions, consulting work coaching, podcasts and more. We have established a Physical Intelligence community anyone can join for free at www.companiesinmotion.com – we send out techniques, research, and articles once a week.
There is always new research to share and we continue to develop new techniques. We’re in the process of building an on-line version of Physical Intelligence training, as well as a certification program for coaches so that they can bring it out to even more people – and many people have asked us to write a version of the book for children and/or teens – both of which we would love to do.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: While it is usually evident to people that Physical Intelligence supports our individual well-being, what is less well understood by many is that it also drives business outcomes.
Clients have come back to us unsolicited to share that after embedding Physical Intelligence across their teams or companies, they have experienced a measurable positive change, including double-digit revenue growth, increased operating efficiency, and higher customer and employee satisfaction scores.
At an individual level, people who have embraced Physical Intelligence have transformed their personal lives, have been promoted up one or two levels, and have been asked to lead key initiatives after a few months or even weeks of using the techniques we have shared with them.
These techniques are very simple and easy to incorporate into your day-to-day life – and they work. Some only take seconds – I caution people to not confuse “simple” with “unimportant.” The techniques work best when habit stacked into your day – i.e., placed next to something that is already a regular part of your daily routine – such as brushing your teeth, making a cup of coffee or tea, sitting down at your desk.
We believe that Physical Intelligence is the most important human intelligence of the 21st century (acknowledging that artificial intelligence is likely to be the biggest overall intelligence of this century).
--Interview with Deborah Kalb