Measuring Ambition/ Self-Skills

IQ or cognitive abilities account for around 1/3 a person's success, according to many researchers. IQ has been extensively measured, yet some findings remain controversial, particularly those dealing with ethnicity.

Emotional Intelligence is the term Goleman applied to the other 2/3 of traits/ skills that make up a person's success. About half of this 2/3 is social skills. Social Quotient seems to be the first unbiased numeric measure of this portion of Emotional Intelligence. Van Sloan believes that SQ is an approximation of a fundamental human likeability trait, just as many believe that an IQ score is an approximation of a basic intelligence trait (or Spearman's g, to cognitive psychologists).

Self-skills (including Ambition), make up the non-social skills balance of Emotional Intelligence. They include many diverse traits that seem to have little in common, like: honesty, adaptability, zeal, punctuality, and many more. Self-skills are generally not measured by SQ, but showing anger can hurt one's SQ score. Self-skills and SQ share an important characteristic: with effort, a person can improve them. Since one's IQ is apparently fixed by age five, a person striving for success ought to focus on what can be improved - self and social skills. It is unfortunate that schools do not do more in these areas.


How to enhance Ambition

The Ambition part of Self-skills seems to vary significantly with the matching of one's interest and one's career area. Traits like punctuality or zeal can change dramatically when some teens move from a classroom to a project that "turns them on," as in a political campaign or helping in an animal shelter.

Millionaires report that "loving my career/ business" was much more important than IQ in leading to their success. Table 2-5 in "The Millionaire Mind" by Stanley breaks down results by career type:

High IQ...Love Career % of millionaires say is "very important" in success

16%...............51%..........Business Owner/ Entrepreneur

18%...............45%..........Senior Corporate Executive






One attempt at measuring Ambition centers on students' exploration of possible careers through a unique JOBS survey. Students who have well defined career goals and have some experience (paid or not) in a chosen field are given extra Ambition points. The JOBS survey also considers the student's intended level of job and education as a measure of Ambition. As a counterweight to wishful thinking, the survey asks students to consider the reasonableness of their advanced education goal, given their current grade point average.

Unlike SQ, the JOBS survey is just a partial measuring of one section of Emotional Intelligence. More work is needed in this area to develop reliable measurement numbers.

Ambition Update: November 2005

Time Magazine of November 14, 2005 has a cover story on Ambition. That cover promises "A surprising look at what separates life's go getters from its also rans." Unfortunately, the surprise is how little new hard information has been developed on Ambition, one of the key components in success. The Time article features successful people like Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, with some findings partly related to Ambition:

Go to: JOBS survey information

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