Richard G. Petty, MD


There’s a nice article at a website that I like a lot. This one recommends adopting an approach of examining our capacity for work in four different ways: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.

There are powerful reasons for using multidimensional perspectives to help people not just function at their best, but also to be resilient in the face of adversity. I would like to add two things to this article.

First is an exceedingly useful concept is the “complexity quotient” (CQ), which measures our ability to adapt to changing complexity. It is another way of thinking about a person’s “capacity.” Successful leaders, winning athletes and healthy individuals are extremely flexible and have a high CQ. They can raise their game and adapt quickly. On the other hand, they also have the ability to let go when the pressure is off. After recovering from a mental breakdown, the psychologist Carl Jung was known not only for his remarkable scholarship, but also for his extraordinary ability to relax and to become childlike and to think up all sorts of games for his children. These are signs of a well-rounded, balanced and integrated personality. Sometimes we see people in whom this ability goes haywire, and they overcompensate with drugs, alcohol or risky sexual behavior.

Second, I think that it’s valuable to also add the capacity of your relationships and your energy. Robust, dynamic and supportive relationships can enhance your capacity for work and play, and they buffer you from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We do not usually think about the capacity of the subtle systems of the body, but they are there and very real. Strengthening them with techniques such as breathing, yoga or qigong, can dramatically improve your quality of life and capacity for effectiveness and enjoyment.

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