Positive Intelligence - Critical summary review - Shirzad Chamine

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Positive Intelligence - critical summary review

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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential And How You Can Achieve Yours

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN:  ‎ 978-1608322787

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Critical summary review

Do you always fall short of your goals, no matter what you do to reach them? Are you lying awake at night, worrying about what the future might bring? Chances are you have a very low Positive Intelligence Quotient, meaning you listen more to your sabotaging than to your encouraging inner voices. Former coach-trainer and experienced CEO Shirzad Chamine developed an easy-to-follow  manual on how to increase your Positive Intelligence Quotient, and ultimately your success. So, get ready to learn how to successfully tap into your full potential.


You have probably heard the story of Sisyphus before. After falling from grace, the former king Sisyphus was punished. He was told to push a boulder to the very top of a hill, but every time he got to the top of the hill, all his efforts unraveled, and the boulder would roll back to the bottom again. Sisyphus had to start over from the beginning for eternity.

The sad truth is, for most of us, life is not much different from Sisyphus’ eternal damnation. We also strive for more success just to have our efforts thwarted. How many New Years’ resolutions have you kept in your life? And how many diets did you actually stick with until the end? What is even worse is, most of our efforts unravel again because we punish ourselves. 

We have Saboteurs living in our minds, who constantly try and deride every effort we make and every success we have. While your mind can be your best friend, it can also be your worst enemy. Instead of sabotaging yourself, you should try and adopt Positive Intelligence – shift the balance in your mind so that you can realize your full potential.

So, what exactly is Positive Intelligence? It indicates how much control you have over your own mind. Having high Positive Intelligence means that your mind acts as your friend and encourages you far more than acting as your enemy and discouraging you. Low Positive Intelligence means the reverse. Your Positive Intelligence is expressed in the Positive Intelligence Quotient, or PQ, ranging in percentage from 0 to 100.

For example, if you have a PQ of 75, this means that your mind is your friend 75% of the time. A high PQ does not only lead to success, but to overall increased performance and happiness. Looking at 200 different scientific studies which tested more than 275,000 people showed that a higher PQ leads to higher salary and greater success in work, marriage, health, friendship, and creativity.

Obviously, increasing your Positive Intelligence means looking inside. Since many people feel uncomfortable with deep psychological exploration, the author developed his PQ strategies so that they do not require deep psychological awareness. The strategies are focused on action and results and can easily be fit into your busy lifestyle. 

Let’s first look at the ways your mind can sabotage you.

Your Saboteurs

Every mind has its Saboteurs. Their initial role is to help you survive in the world, both physically and emotionally. They are developed during your childhood, and often become so internalized that you do not even realize they are guiding your thoughts. Take the author as an example. He started isolating himself from fears and pains early on in his childhood and developed the Judge and Hyper-Rational Saboteurs. These were guiding his actions way into his adult life.

The Judge is a universal Saboteur, the Master Saboteur, so to speak. We all have an internal Judge. The Judge has a predisposition to exaggerate the negative and always assume the worst. For our ancestors, this was a necessary quality, so that in uncertain situations, they would not weigh up the options long, but immediately take flight in case of danger. Survival was only possible that way.

The Judge helps you make sense of life, even though his assumptions are often flawed and tend toward the negative. He has nine accomplices, and each individual is different in terms of what kind of Saboteurs are allowed to roam freely in their minds. The author’s four siblings, for example, each developed the Victim, the Controller, the Avoider, or the Stickler, even though they were all faced with the same upbringing.

Which of the nine accomplice Saboteurs you develop depends on your emotional survival needs. These are determined by your motivation and your style. For example, your motivation can either be independence, acceptance, or security. Your style, on the other hand, would be either to assert, to earn, or to avoid.

The nine accomplice Saboteurs

Apart from the Hyper-Rational, the Controller, the Victim, the Avoider, and the Stickler, there are also the Restless, the Hyper-Achiever, the Pleaser, and the Hyper-Vigilant.

  1. The Stickler: You are a perfectionist and tend to take your need for order and organization a little too far.
  2. The Pleaser: You try to gain acceptance and affection by pleasing and flattering others. As a result, you become resentful because you lose sight of your own needs.
  3. The Hyper-Achiever: You need constant achievement and performance for your self-respect and self-validation. You have lost touch with your deeper emotional needs as a result of your unsustainable workaholic tendencies.
  4. The Victim: You are intensely focused on your painful feelings and memories and try to gain attention and affection through your focus on these.
  5. The Hyper-Rational: You often seem cold or arrogant since you intensively and exclusively focus on processing every feeling, thought, experience, and relationship rationally.
  6. The Hyper-Vigilant: You are continuously anxious about all the things that could go wrong and get little rest since you strive to be vigilant at all times.
  7. The Restless: You are constantly focusing on your next experience or task and are rarely content with staying in the present moment.
  8. The Controller: You always need to be in control of every situation, and you therefore try and bend people’s actions to your own will.  
  9. The Avoider: You are extremely focused on the pleasant and positive and try to avoid anything unpleasant or conflict laden.

How to weaken your Saboteurs

One thing your Saboteurs are extremely good at is in convincing you that they are not your enemies, but your friends. For example, if you have the Avoider accomplice, he will try to say things to you like, “No good comes out of conflict,” or, “Someone needs to be a peacemaker.” Similarly, the Hyper-Rational accomplice will try to convince you by arguing that emotions only get in the way of clear thinking.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing these justification lies. Once you start trusting the Saboteur as a friend, it does its greatest damage. Just imagine you made a costly mistake on something important. Your Judge will beat you up about it and will make you feel guilty and remorseful. You will become anxious and worried that it might happen again, you may not be able to go to sleep at night. The next time around, you will be overly anxious about not making the same mistake again. You may preform better as a result, but this will have come at a high emotional cost.

There is also a different way of thinking about this mistake, your Sage. Your Sage will empathize with you, reassure you, and it will encourage you to keep trying whilst having compassion with yourself. The Sage lets you see your mistakes as opportunities to improve yourself, and instead of beating yourself up, you can take a clearheaded look at your mistake and analyze what went wrong, so you can avoid making the same mistake again in the future.

Both your Saboteurs and your Sage will lead you to success but following your Sage will demand a lot less from you emotionally. So how do you weaken your Saboteurs? To weaken your Saboteurs, you will need to expose them. Their strength often lies in the fact that they operate from the hidden recesses of your mind. Instead, try to become aware of them, and every time you observe a Saboteur, label it. It might help to give your Saboteurs more personal names: The author calls his Hyper-Rational Saboteur “Robot,” for example.

Strengthen your Sage

Another way in which you can increase your PQ is by strengthening your Sage. You need to become aware that all your distress is self-generated. Your Saboteurs may try to convince you that at least some of your worries were caused externally, but in fact, whatever you worry about is the result of your Saboteurs.

Instead, activate your Sage to think differently about your current situation. According to the author, “Your Sage has access to your five great powers: empathy, exploration, innovation, navigation, and decisive action. With these powers, your Sage can meet all the challenges that you face in a way that will not only generate the best results but also lead to the highest level of personal satisfaction, peace of mind, and happiness along the way.”

The Sage perspective gives you peace of mind by simply accepting what is. The Judge may worry about what has been or what might be, and always assume the worst, but the Sage allows you to stay open-minded and assume a broader perspective. Because one thing the Judge does is adopt a tunnel perspective. Imagine you were to break a leg right before a holiday and you could not get on your planned flight as a result. Sucks, right? But then the plane that you were supposed to get on crashes, and you thank your good fortunes that you were prevented from flying in the first place.

Although this is an unlikely example, it goes to show how anything can be good or bad, depending on what comes of it. By accepting a situation as it is, you accept the fact that what might seem to be a terrible thing right now might prove to be good fortune in the future.

To strengthen your Sage, strengthen your awareness. Shift your attention to your body and one of your five senses for ten seconds 100 times a day. That way, your brain will become trained to focus on the moment and you will not succumb to worrying as easily. You can increase the impact of these exercises by taking 15 minutes every day to sit silently and meditate.

Final Notes

Positive Intelligence can increase your overall happiness and will allow you to tap into your full potential. Most of us are guided by our inner Saboteurs: our inner Judge who always assumes the worst, and at least one of the nine accomplice Saboteurs. Often, these sabotaging voices have become so internalized that they guide your daily actions without you even noticing it.

If you start seeing every mistake and every challenge as an opportunity, and you actively practice awareness, you can considerably weaken the impact of the Saboteurs and strengthen your Positive Intelligence.

12min Tip

Think about which of the nine accomplice Saboteurs is most prominent in you and start to observe whenever they try to sabotage your actions or thoughts.

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Who wrote the book?

Shirzad Chamine is the former CEO of the world’s largest coach-training organization. In his position, he trained coaches and managers from most Fortune 500 companies, as well as Stanford and Yale bus... (Read more)

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