Positive Intelligence
Shirzad Chamine

Positive Intelligence - Book Summary

Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and how You Can Achieve Yours

Duration: 21:06
Release Date: June 1, 2024
Book Author: Shirzad Chamine
Categories: Psychology, Productivity
Duration: 21:06
Release Date: June 1, 2024
Book Author: Shirzad Chamine
Categories: Psychology, Productivity

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we delve into "Positive Intelligence" by Shirzad Chamine. This book, published in 2012, offers insights into enhancing your mental fortitude by overcoming common mental blocks and accessing deeper wisdom for a more fulfilling life.

Shirzad Chamine, the author, brings a wealth of experience to this subject. As the former CEO of the largest coach-training organization in the world, Chamine has influenced top managers and coaches across numerous Fortune 500 companies and has shared his expertise as a faculty member at prestigious institutions like Yale and Stanford Business Schools. "Positive Intelligence" marks his debut in book authorship.

This read is perfect for anyone eager to tap into their full potential, those in need of a motivational lift, or self-explorers keen on understanding the intricacies of their minds. Join us as we explore how to boost your mental resilience and lead a happier, more productive life with "Positive Intelligence."

Harness the power of your mind

Have you ever felt like you were sabotaging your own success? You might have perfectly laid out plans — and then watched as worry and self-doubt derailed your efforts. Or perhaps you've relinquished a fantastic opportunity simply because criticism made you recoil. If these scenarios sound familiar, you're not alone. Such internal struggles are commonplace, and in extreme cases, they can be profoundly disabling.

But there's uplifting news: the battles you face are largely waged within the confines of your own mind. By embracing the concept of positive intelligence, you can train your brain to ally with you rather than work against you.

In the intriguing world of "Positive Intelligence" by Shirzad Chamine, we are introduced to a transformative concept known as PQ — positive intelligence quotient. Think of PQ as a metric, a gauge of how often your mind acts as your advocate instead of your adversary.

This book insightfully explores how to conquer the saboteurs — those internal voices that perpetuate self-defeat. By engaging more deeply with parts of your brain that fuel wisdom and compassion, you can significantly enhance your PQ.

Learning the strategies within this book promises to not only bolster your mental health but also supercharge your personal and professional performance, ultimately making you a person others are drawn to.

Tame your inner saboteurs

Imagine Peter, a savvy entrepreneur who has calculated the exact amount needed for an early and blissful retirement: ten million dollars. But, when offered a staggering 125 million dollars for his business, he declines. Why? Because a friend sold his venture for 330 million. While Peter's decision might seem absurd, it embodies a struggle that many of us face — never feeling satisfied, regardless of success or financial gain.

This continual search for more is often driven not by external factors, but by internal saboteurs. These deep-rooted thoughts and patterns fuel our anxieties and are rooted in our survival instincts — part of our brains designed to keep us safe.

Saboteurs emerge in various forms, influencing our reactions and decisions far beyond what is necessary for our survival in the modern world. Let's delve into some of the main saboteurs that can take residence in our minds.

At the forefront is the Judge, the saboteur who is perpetually dissatisfied, always pointing out what should be done next, never content with current achievements. Then, there's the Stickler, obsessed with perfection, often at the expense of health and happiness. The Pleaser seeks to satisfy everyone else, often sacrificing their own needs and harboring resentment over time.

The Hyper-achiever operates under the belief that relentless work leads to worth and validation, while the Victim garners sympathy through suffering. The Hyper-rational type dismisses emotions in favor of cold, hard facts, often missing out on the human aspect of experiences.

Others find their drive in constant excitement, led by the Restless saboteur who is never fully content and always looking for the next thrill. In contrast, the Hyper-vigilant is always on the lookout for potential problems, and the Controller feels the compulsive need to manage every detail and every outcome. Lastly, the Avoider focuses solely on the positives, steering clear of any conflict, hoping issues will resolve themselves.

We all engage with a mix of these ten saboteurs regularly. The good news? These patterns are not permanent fixtures in our minds. They can be managed and even subdued with diligent effort and the right techniques. Stay tuned for more on how to master your mental saboteurs and seize control of your internal narrative.

Unlock the wisdom of your inner Sage

In a timeless Chinese parable, a farmer exhibits a remarkable tranquility regardless of his fortunes or misfortunes, teaching us a profound lesson in perspective. His consistent and unbothered reaction to events — whether losing a valuable stallion or his son's misfortune, which paradoxically spares him from conscription — is a mere "No one really knows what's good or bad." This farmer taps into a powerful mental resource: the Sage.

Located in the right hemisphere of the brain, the Sage represents our capacity to see the world as it is, devoid of the cloud of emotional turmoil. It recognizes that while the future is uncertain and beyond our programming, our approach to challenges can remain balanced and focused on the merits of the present situation alone.

While not every scenario allows for cold detachment — such as the raw grief of losing a loved one or moments of intense anger — the Sage's role is to help us maintain perspective, ensuring that these emotions do not overrun our lives.

The effectiveness of the Sage comes through its five distinct powers, which together enhance our positive intelligence.

First comes the power of empathy. Practicing empathy, particularly towards oneself, can diminish the harshness of self-judgment and extend that understanding to others. A practical technique here is to visualize oneself as a child or to look at one's childhood pictures, stimulating a compassionate response.

Next is the power of exploration. Activating your innate curiosity allows you to perceive the intricacies of life and problems with a fresh, unbiased eye. Approach life as an anthropologist fascinated by the diversity of human experience, without preconceived judgments.

Innovation follows exploration. Here, the Sage enables you to brainstorm novel solutions. Important at this stage is the freedom from analyzing — let the ideas flow abundantly without critique, opening doors to solutions previously unconsidered.

The fourth power, navigation, involves evaluating these creative solutions against each other, selecting those that resonate most with your core values and life's purpose. Imagine reflecting on your life choices from the vantage point of its end — would you feel peace and fulfillment with the paths you've chosen?

Finally, activation, the fifth power of the Sage, channels all preceding insights into decisive action. With a clear vision and silenced saboteurs, your purpose becomes an unstoppable force, guiding you calmly but swiftly towards implementation.

By engaging these five powers of the Sage, you not only reclaim the narrative of your mind but also embark on a life path characterized by deeper satisfaction and coherent purpose.

Boost your positive intelligence quotient

Now that you're familiar with the concepts of Saboteurs and the Sage, it's time to take action and enhance your PQ. Understanding these concepts is just the beginning; applying them can truly transform how you perceive and react to the world around you.

The initial step in improving your PQ involves weakening the influence of your Saboteurs. It begins quite simply: identify a source of your anxiety — whether it's the perfectionist within, the constant pleaser, or your inner critic. Once identified, give this Saboteur a specific name. This act of naming not only demystifies the anxiety but also reduces its control over you.

For instance, if you name your critical Saboteur "Darth Vader," it suddenly becomes an external force, rather than a defining feature of your psyche. This distancing allows you to sympathize more easily with yourself, seeing these thoughts as foreign invaders rather than integral parts of your personality.

While diminishing the power of Saboteurs is crucial, activating your Sage mode can elevate your PQ to new heights. By engaging in the Sage's five powers — empathy, exploration, innovation, navigation, and activation — you advance towards a life led by wise, deliberate choices that resonate deeply with your core values.

This practice isn't limited to personal development; it extends into group dynamics as well. Just as individuals have unique Saboteurs and Sage powers, so do groups. By understanding and harnessing these collective traits, a group's PQ can significantly improve. One effective approach is to define clear, shared values that everyone in the group commits to following, enhancing collective decision-making and actions.

But how do you practically strengthen your PQ? Engaging in specific exercises designed to train your PQ "muscles" can be highly beneficial. Let's explore these exercises and see how they can help polish your positive intelligence, allowing for a more fulfilled and intentional way of living.

Maximizing life through Sage mode

In 1996, a significant event unfolded for Dr. Jill Taylor, a brain researcher educated at Harvard. She experienced a severe stroke that incapacitated the left side of her brain — the hub of survival instincts, and activated her right side, where our PQ brain predominantly operates.

Surprisingly, despite the gravely serious nature of her condition, she felt an unusual peace and elevation of spirit. Her career and normal life seemed jeopardized, yet there was an underlying tranquility. After her recovery, Dr. Taylor understood that her PQ brain should lead, with the Survivor brain supporting, rather than dominating.

Fortunately, accessing this balanced state of mind doesn't require enduring a stroke. Instead, you can engage in specific exercises to strengthen your PQ muscles and hence, thrive in Sage mode.

The core principle is straightforward: direct as much of your attention as possible towards bodily sensations. Engage your five senses for approximately ten seconds — roughly the length of three deep breaths — which equates to a single exercise rep at the PQ gym.

Your goal should be to perform 100 PQ reps each day over a span of 21 days. Consistency in this practice will not only amplify mindfulness but also diminish anxiety.

Here are practical ways to incorporate these exercises into your routine:

While brushing your teeth, concentrate on the brush's vibrations against your teeth, the scent of the toothpaste, and the feel of the brush handle. Apply the same focus when you're showering, noticing the sound of water hitting your skin and the sensations it brings.

During a run, become attuned to how your feet press against your shoes and the feeling of the wind as it caresses your skin. If you're lifting weights, observe the movement of your muscles thoughtfully.

Eating offers another opportunity: savor each flavor distinctly, reflecting on the spices and their interactions.

In social settings, be fully present. Notice the expressions and subtle gestures of your companions. Feel the ground under your feet as you engage fully with these experiences.

The fundamental idea here is to maintain presence, creating no openings for Saboteurs to interfere. Should they manage to sneak into your thoughts, use that moment to strengthen your focus, converting their intrusion into a productive PQ rep that enhances your positive outlook.

Unexpected events are a part of life, but the essence lies in transforming these into opportunities for growth. If positivity seems elusive, focus on moving past the disappointment.

Adhering to these practices diligently, challenging your Saboteurs, and cultivating a Sage mindset can elevate your PQ above 75 percent. Reaching this threshold means achieving optimal performance and contentment, despite external disturbances.

Let’s explore further how to activate and sustain this enhanced PQ in your everyday actions.

Applying positive intelligence in everyday life

Now that we've covered the fundamentals of positive intelligence and the path to achieving it, let's explore practical applications in both personal and professional contexts. Illustrated through two examples, we'll see how positive intelligence can transform real-life scenarios.

Consider Frank, a CEO, whose company's stock plummeted during the 2008 recession, leading to an emotional breakdown before his daughter. Initially skeptical about the potential of Sage powers to yield tangible results from everyday activities, Frank was slow to adopt PQ practices.

Continuously plagued by his inner Judge, Frank's perspective began to shift during a simple, everyday activity — eating a turkey sandwich. By closing his eyes and focusing intensely on the experience — feeling the sponginess of the bread and hearing the crunch of lettuce, Frank tapped into his senses, a core PQ exercise. This pivotal moment motivated him to introduce similar exercises to his team.

It's crucial to understand that a team's PQ isn't merely the average of each member's PQ. Rather, individuals might feel more positive as a part of a team but lose that positivity in isolation. Effective enhancement of PQ involves elevating each member's individual PQ before improving the team's collective PQ.

When Frank applied the Sage’s powers at work, the transformation was profound. The team reconnected with the company's foundational values, which directly contributed to the recovery of the company’s stock to its former heights within 18 months.

On a personal front, we have Patrick and Susan, a couple grappling with tensions in their marriage. Patrick, a CEO of a global financial services company, and Susan, who had sacrificed her career to raise their children, faced growing strains due to unmet expectations and lack of support.

The turnaround came when they committed to fully listening to each other and echoing the other's concerns without interjecting blame. This process fostered mutual empathy — Susan gained insight into Patrick’s professional pressures and the disappointment he felt missing family time, while Patrick recognized the significant sacrifices Susan had made, leading him to appreciate her need for financial independence.

As they laid out their grievances, Patrick formulated a plan to better balance his work and family life, including clear communication about his availability. Susan decided to reconnect with old friends and explore flexible work opportunities. Importally, they both incorporated PQ exercises to manage their anxieties effectively.

Through these narratives — one professional, the other personal — we can see the robust versatility of positive intelligence. Embarking on the practice of enhancing one's PQ not only promises improvement in individual and collective performance but also fosters deeper interpersonal relationships. Once you begin to invest in your own PQ, the scope of its impact across various facets of life becomes astonishingly apparent.

Final thoughts on mastering your mental landscape

Our brains, while expertly designed to shield us from danger, can sometimes hinder us as we age. The intuitive responses meant to protect can become saboteurs, unnecessarily activating stress and anxiety. The journey to enhancing your positive intelligence begins with understanding and mitigating these internal adversaries.

Start by recognizing and naming your Saboteurs. This simple action diminishes their control, allowing you to step back and assess situations more objectively. Complement this by cultivating your inner Sage, which enables you to approach life with a mindset geared towards growth and fulfillment. The Sage empowers you to live fully, integrating empathy, exploration, innovation, navigation, and activation in alignment with your core values.

To further elevate your positive intelligence quotient (PQ), engage in daily practices that focus your senses and minimize anxiety, thereby fostering a state of concentrated presence. Regularly applying these strategies not only enhances your personal well-being but also positively influences those around you — from family and friends to colleagues.

By embedding these practices into your daily routine, you create a ripple effect of positivity, enabling not just personal success but also fostering a supportive and thriving environment for everyone connected to you. Embrace this journey, and watch as the collective benefit unfolds, enhancing lives beyond your own.

Positive Intelligence Quotes by Shirzad Chamine

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