Character Strengths and Multiple Intelligences

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and a woman in line checking out made a well-intentioned statement that everyone could be good at anything if they tried.  Of course, being the polite and courteous person that I am, I did not tell her how wrong I believe she was, but this presented a great topic for a new blog post.

I’ve mentioned before about an assessment to evaluate character strengths developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, father of positive psychology.  This assessment helps determine the specific character strengths that pertain to each individual based on the 24 character strengths that Dr. Seligman has discussed in detail in his book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.  Each person has his or her own unique combination of character strengths that help him or her thrive in life and to be successful.  Once people know what their stregths are, they can build on those strengths and apply them in different situations to help them achieve their goals more successfully.

Another assessment that I use in my Self Esteem 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program is based on Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, which he introduced in 1983.  Based on Gardner’s (1983) theory, each person has a set of 8 different intelligences, which involve a biological and psychological potential to 1) solve problems and 2) create products valued in one or more cultural contexts (Gardner, 1983).  Some of these intelligences stand out much more in varying individuals than others.  These 8 intelligences include:

  • Verbal/Linguistic – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to use words effectively.  These individuals typically have highly developed listening skills, enjoy reading, or make good public speakers.
  • Logical/Mathematical – This intelligence is demonstrated by reasoning and calculating, thinking conceptually and abstractly, and being able to identify patterns and relationships within their environments.
  • Visual/Spatial – This intelligence is demonstrated by thinking in terms of physical space and being very aware of the environment.  These individuals may like to draw, complete jigsaw puzzles, and read maps.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic – This intelligence is demonstrated by an effective use of the body and a keen sense of body awareness, such as that of dancers or surgeons.  These people enjoy movement, touch, and making things with their hands.   They also communicate well through body language.
  • Musical – This intelligence is demonstrated by showing a sensitivity to sound and rhythm.
  • Interpersonal – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to interact well with and understand others.
  • Intrapersonal – This intelligence is demonstrated by the ability to understand one’s own inner feelings, interests, goals, and motivation.  They may have a preference for being alone, exhibit shyness, and enjoy reading books.
  • Naturalist: This was not among the original intelligences that Gardner introduced in 1983; however, Gardner (1995) explains that it should be included in his list based on the ability to readily recognize flora and fauna, make other distinctions in the natural world, and to use this ability in a productive manner (i.e. hunting, farming, biological science).

Not only can these strengths indicate what type of talents and interests individuals will have, but it can also be a great place to start when selecting a job or career that an individual will thrive in. (2013) provides a list of careers pertaining to each intelligence category as a place to start or to get some ideas, especially for career paths that overlap between an individual’s top 3 Intelligences.  Below is an example, courtesy of (2013):

Verbal-Linguistic Logical-Mathematical
  • attorney/lawyer
  • comedian
  • communications specialist
  • curator
  • editor in publishing
  • historian
  • journalist
  • librarian
  • marketing consultant
  • newscaster
  • poet
  • politician
  • speech-pathologist
  • talk-show host
  • teacher
  • language translator
  • writer
  • accountant
  • auditor
  • computer analyst
  • computer technician
  • computer programmer
  • database designer
  • detective/researcher
  • economist
  • engineer
  • lawyer
  • mathematician
  • network analyst
  • physician
  • physicist
  • scientist
  • statistician
  • bookkeeper
Visual/Spatial Bodily/Kinesthetic
  • 3D modeling & simulation
  • architect
  • artist
  • computer programmer
  • engineer
  • film animator
  • graphic artist
  • interior decorator
  • photographer
  • mechanic
  • navigator
  • outdoor guide
  • pilot
  • sculptor
  • strategic planner
  • surveyor
  • webmaster
  • actor
  • athlete
  • carpenter
  • computer games designer
  • craftsperson
  • dancer
  • doctor of sports
  • firefighter
  • forest ranger
  • jeweler
  • mechanic
  • personal trainer
  • Phys Ed teacher
  • physical therapist
  • recreation specialist
  • surgeon
  • yoga instructor
Musical Naturalist
  • audiologist
  • choir director
  • conductor
  • disc jockey
  • music camp counselor
  • music comedy actor
  • music critic
  • sound editor
  • music lawyer
  • music librarian
  • music publisher
  • music retailer
  • music teacher
  • music therapist
  • musician
  • piano tuner
  • recording engineer
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • speech pathologist
  • voice actor
  • air quality specialist
  • animal health technician
  • anthropologist
  • astronomer
  • botanist
  • dog trainer
  • environmental lawyer
  • farmer
  • forest ranger
  • gardener
  • geologist
  • landscaper
  • meteorologist
  • nature photographer
  • park naturalist
  • veterinarian assistant
  • water conservationist
  • wetlands ecologist
  • wilderness doctor
  • wilderness guide
  • wildlife illustrator
Interpersonal Intrapersonal
  • actor
  • administrator
  • communications manager
  • conflict resolution specialist
  • cruise director
  • customer service rep
  • dental hygienist
  • group mediator
  • human resources manager
  • marketing specialist
  • nurse
  • PeaceCorps
  • politician
  • psychologist
  • religious leader
  • social director
  • social worker
  • teacher
  • trainer facilitator
  • travel counselor
  • waiter/waitress
  • actor
  • artist
  • career/personal counselor
  • consultant
  • criminologist
  • energy healer
  • futurist or trend predictor
  • intelligence officer
  • philosopher
  • program planner
  • entrepreneur
  • psychic
  • psychologist
  • researcher
  • small business
  • owner
  • spiritual counselor
  • theologian
  • therapist
  • writer
  • wellness counselor

Your Turn
Take the Multiple Intelligences Assessment and answer the following questions in the comment section below:

  • What are your TOP 3 Intelligences?
  • Does this fit well with your current career choice or hobbies?
  • How can you use these strengths to your advantage in your career and personal life?
  • How can knowing your strengths help you become more successful?


  • (2013). Multiple intelligences career chart. Retrieved from
  • Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Gardner, H. (1995). Reflections on multiple intelligences: Myths and messages. Phi Delta Kappan, 77(3), 200.
  • Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation and interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.

About Nicky

Book Lover, author, aunt, and dog mom.
This entry was posted in Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, Quotes, Success and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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