What is Your Positive Intelligence Quotient?

Abundance Books Growth mindset


Key Point: The idea that our mind is NOT who we are, is worthy of serious consideration. Our mind is there as an instrument for us to control and NOT the other way around. Why not use it to be positive and our friend?

I have written much about the importance of developing deep self-awareness. Hence the value of understanding where you and I are on the Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, EQ) and Spiritual Intelligence (Wigglesworth, SQ) assessments. Science supports much of the work underlying the value of knowing both our EQ and SQ. In keeping with this self-awareness quest, neuroscience and positive psychology research ALSO points to the importance of understanding our Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ). Our PQ is a measure of what percentage of time our mind is on our side. This research suggests that PQ might be one of the biggest factors for reaching one’s potential. When our mind is on our side, we are more likely to succeed. When our mind works against us, we struggle.

In his book, Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine shares compelling reasons for focusing on, measuring, and improving one’s PQ. Chamine, a masterful executive coach widely acclaimed for his work, uses a measurement process that determines the fraction of all our emotional experiences that are positive versus negative. PQ, he claims, is more important for our success than IQ or EQ. Chamine writes, “Your potential is determined by many factors, including your cognitive intelligence (IQ), your emotional intelligence (EQ), and your skills, knowledge, experience, and social network. But it is your Positive intelligence (PQ) that determines what percentage of your vast potential you actually achieve.” Why does Chamine believe this?

He emphasizes, “Your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy. Positive Intelligence is the relative strength of these two modes of your mind. High Positive Intelligence means your mind acts as your friend far more than as your enemy. Low Positive Intelligence is the reverse. Positive Intelligence is therefore an indication of the control you have over your own mind and how well your mind acts in your best interest.”

Our positive mind calls for the voice of authenticity, calm, and positive emotion. However Chamine refers to enemies of this thinking that he calls Saboteurs — including the Judge, the Victim, the Avoider, the Hyper-Achiever, and others. These Saboteurs undermine us by triggering anger, anxiety, shame, regret, and other negative emotions. “Pretty much all your suffering in life is self-generated by your Saboteurs.”

According to Chamine, we can measure our Positive Intelligence Quotient, as a percentage, ranging from 0 to 100. For example, a PQ of 75 means that our mind is acting as our friend 75 percent of the time and is in self-sabotage mode about 25 percent of the time. He goes on to say, “The PQ score of 75 is a critical tipping point. Above it, you are generally being uplifted by the internal dynamics of the mind, and below it you are constantly being dragged down by those dynamics.”

To measure your PQ, you can do so here

Character Moves:

  1. I believe there is sufficient research to warrant better understanding of our PQ. Determine where you are by taking the assessment test above and/or do some of your own research.
  2. Learn more about improving your PQ, including being able to recognize and control Saboteurs. I recommend reading Chamine’s book. He offers specific ways to increase your percentage.
  3. Learn more about the idea of controlling our mind versus letting it control us. Our primitive mind uses negativity to support survival. However ample research notes that greater positivity makes it possible to thrive. As a result, according to Chamine and others, people with higher ratios of positive to negative emotions are more likely to flourish in life, experience better health, more satisfying relationships, and greater professional achievement. Why not you?

Higher PQ in The Triangle,



Back to Being Farmers?

Accountability Organizational culture Productivity


Key Point: Many of us are stuck in archaic ways of managing ourselves and others at work. I was thinking about my Dad and Mom the other day and what it was like to be farmers, scratching out a living on a quarter section of Alberta land. They started work each day as needed, usually when animals had to be attended to. They finished work when they decided to. The job was never really “done” on the farm. If they needed a nap after lunch, they did so. No one was there to watch over or manage them. If you wanted to survive as a farmer, let alone flourish, you had to get results. A performance review was whether you got a yield from a crop or a return from investing in your animals. Coaching came from friends, family and neighbors. Feedback from plants and animals happened everyday. You had to learn or lose. And of course weather was the constant unknown. A similar story applies to craftsmen who had to provide value in the form of a product or service. No value meant no money. (These principles of course still apply to farmers, craftsmen and entrepreneurs today).

Could you imagine telling a farmer or craftsman that you wanted to introduce a new model of working in the offices of the western world, where accountability and autonomy where the guiding principles? That no results meant no job? That people were self-accountable for how and where they chose to work based on the needs of customers and teammates? Imagine that we didn’t use time as the primary currency for determining results? How much vacation time or sick time should a farmer or craftsmen have? Who decides? They would probably burst out laughing at this “new management theory.”

Yet that’s where many organizations are at. The reality today is that with highly mobile technology available, numerous jobs can be performed in many different ways, times and places. We don’t need to “punch in” the real or virtual time lock. And similar to farmers and craftsmen, the work is often only “done” when we stop working. Results may not be as straight forward as getting a yield from a crop, but they are mostly quantifiable if we work at defining them.

Character Moves:

  1. Challenge yourself to think about accountability (to achieve valued results) and autonomy (bounded by customer, co-worker and regulation requirements) as the foundation for work… NOT just TIME at work. And challenge location too. Do you REALLY have to waste one hour commuting to work and another hour back? Why? When? For whose benefit?
  2. Stop yourself from self guilt trips based on whether you work a certain time (unless of course a customer or teammate needs you to be there at that time). And also stop judging others or being suspicious if they are not visibly tied to their cube or monitor. Care more about whether they and you are providing valued results. Attend to your results first.
  3. What if you had no prescribed hours, vacation, leave, sick days, or other artificial constraints? Would you work differently? Are you valued for your results, skills and attributes or the hours you work at your desk? Be in control of your destiny through the value you provide.
  4. Be absolutely clear with others what valued results are. Describe both quantifiable outcomes AND expected behaviors. And then be self-accountable and achieve great results. Remember that result clarification is not episodic but continuous. The world is constantly changing and so must you. Let go of the amount of time given and cube occupation as the primary currency for assessing valued work.

Farming in the Triangle,



Should You Be Nice or Tough?

Organizational leadership Respect


Key Point: To be a great leader you have to be BOTH tough and nice. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman address this in their Harvard Business Review article, Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees Most? The summary below highlights the results of their research:

“Essentially, our analysis suggests, that neither approach (nice or tough) is sufficient in itself. Rather, both are needed to make real headway in increasing employee engagement. In fact, fully 68 percent of the employees working for leaders they rated as both effective enhancers and drivers scored in the top 10 percent on overall satisfaction and engagement with the organization.

Clearly, we were asking the wrong question, when we set out to determine which approach was best. Leaders need to think in terms of “and” not “or.” Leaders with highly engaged employees know how to demand a great deal from employees, but are also seen as considerate, trusting, collaborative, and great developers of people.

In our view, the lesson then is that those of you who consider yourself to be drivers should not be afraid to be the “nice guy.” And all of you aspiring nice guys should not view that as incompatible with setting demanding goals. The two approaches are like the oars of a boat. Both need to be used with equal force to maximize the engagement of direct reports”

People who have worked for me know that I ask them to stuff “20 pounds of sugar into a 10 pound bag”. I ask a lot and in almost all cases, I have found that people step up to the high bar, make great choices and do their best work. I also like to give them lots of autonomy and recognition. I am not suggesting I’m a superb example of what Zenger and Folkman’s research reinforces, but I deeply believe being tough AND nice go together.

Character Moves:

  1. Respect the people who work for and/or beside you enough to demand excellence. Expect them to do their best work ever or to get out of the way. Be clear about what you want. If they can’t deliver, care enough about them to help them move on. You and they are worth it.
  2. Being tough helps people understand where they can improve (see my last blog). However, I have found that most people like to know what they are doing well at too. Reinforce their strengths. Frankly, it is easier to do more that we are good at than to change our shortcomings. Be a cheerleader by pointing out specific behavior and results worthy of applauding! Be a total coach.
  3. Be TOUGH and NICE. Be what Zenger and Folkman describe as a leader skilled enough to row with both of these oars. Cool analogy. Row with one oar and you will go nowhere. Neither will your team. Row with both.

Nice AND tough in the Triangle,



Fruit Loops Feedback

Empathy Growth mindset Respect


Key Point: If you learn how to present constructive feedback, in a very direct, raw, data supported, and reasoned way, you will become an even more valuable leader, partner or teammate. The world is full of mushy, oblique, smoke blowing people, who avoid constructive criticism because they fear the conflict and/or simply don’t care enough. And based on the sloppy way some people give and receive feedback, that is understandable. But when you connect with people who really know how to give and take value driven criticism you can achieve better results and at an interpersonal level, mutual respect and confidence increases.

My experience is that relationships deteriorate when people sit on “stuff.” Over time, frustration builds and the proverbial straw eventually breaks the camel’s back. Some of the most difficult bosses are those that keep you guessing how they want you to behave. You rarely get feedback, but one day, some seemingly small thing becomes explosive and the relationship slips backwards. I recently participated in a thorough assessment of very high achieving executives. While I have been involved in many of these types of evaluations, this particular process was more powerful and impactful than most. When I review what was different about this approach, the ” areas to work on” were presented to the recipients in hard hitting and direct ways by skilled professionals AND the execs receiving the insights were able to put their ample egos on the shelf, opening them selves to meaningful self-development. There was serious intent and skill all the way around.

In a great HBR article, Don’t Sugarcoat Negative Feedback, it reinforces this viewpoint: “If you want to help a person change restrict your sugarcoating to breakfast cereals. Deliver constructive feedback rapidly in its raw form. This doesn’t mean harshly; there’s a way to soften blows without delaying them if you strive to be empathic. Just never make it seem like you’re avoiding hard cold facts. All that does is make the facts seem worse than they are.”

The article goes on to provide another important insight about giving feedback that I share: “Any and all of my success as a coach is because I internalized an observation by Anais Nin: ‘We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.’ Constructive criticism and your plan(s) for having someone address the flaws you see emanate from your worldview. To have these well-intended messages hit home, you must understand your audience and tailor your feedback to their needs.”

Character Moves:

  1. Prepare WHAT you’re going to say. Be respectful and empathetic by being direct, clear, and reasoned in your feedback. Support your insights with data. Point to facts and behavior. Describe impact and consequences. Being direct doesn’t mean shooting from the hip.
  2. Prepare HOW you are going to deliver. Present feedback for the recipient, NOT for you. Understand who you are presenting to, and determine the best way to give information and insight that demonstrates you appreciate their needs. Timing and approach requires knowing your audience.
  3. Present caring feedback from the perspective of GIVING the other something to meaningfully work on rather than TAKING a chunk out of their side.

No Fruit Loop Feedback in The Triangle,



You’ve Won the Lottery! Now What?

Accountability Purpose


Key Point: I recently spent an evening with a cohort of University students excitedly standing on the springboard of their careers, almost ready to take that big plunge into the world. It made me think about Steve Jobs’ poignant perspective: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… And, most important, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” I wish this for each of these kids… The courage to follow their hearts and intuition. I wish it for each of you.

In 2012, Parade magazine collaborated with Yahoo! Finance to jointly survey 26,000 Americans, and discovered that nearly 60 percent of them fully regretted their career choices. Wow! It would not be unreasonable to assume a similar finding amongst other westerners. I honestly believe it is never too late to do something about your career choice. Of course we are often limited by practical considerations, but if we can ask the right questions, maybe we have more options than we think?

Over the 27-year span since he first began teaching, Wharton Business School Professor G. Richard Shell has focused on the concept of “success,” and the process by which people best discover their own values and purpose. He developed a university-wide seminar called, The Literature of Success to help his students leave school far better prepared to make the important life choices that lay ahead of them. After teaching his course to students and faculty for more than a decade, Shell now has documented his lessons in his recently released book, Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success.

Shell believes many of us are not equipped to thoughtfully define what success looks like in our own terms. The answer to what determines success is intensely personal. If you want to really dig into this, read Shell’s book. In the meantime you may want to try spending a little time on the following.

Character Moves:

  1. Imagine you’ve won the lottery, and money no longer is a primary motivator. Your obligations are taken care of. What would you do next in your life? (After a vacation, etc). What do your answers tell you about what really drives you? What small (or big) steps could you take in the direction of your deepest wish?
  2. Make a list of the things you’ve done in your life to date that help you feel fulfilled, and just plain good about yourself. What is your heart telling you?
  3. Make a list about things you’ve done that leave you feeling empty, cynical and disappointed. What is the honest back story regarding these?
  4. Have the courage to ask yourself the right questions, and live YOUR life. Define YOUR success. Your time is limited.

Lottery in The Triangle,



The Embarrassment Loop

Abundance Empathy Kindness


Key Point: We only trip if we’re moving. The other day I did something that was embarrassing. Geez, at my age, I still do something dumb? How could I? The next morning I wake up, I’m driving for coffee, and I’m thinking about the incident. “Aaaaarg!” I hit the steering wheel. Why can’t I let go of this?

Reflecting on my own moment, I began to think of a very funny story. I will repeat it because I only think about it in the best way, although the people involved may still cringe if they read this. (I hope they smile instead). It is a great reminder that when we do embarrassing things, they are often with the best intention. 

I was the COO of a publicly traded company and really hurt myself during an inline skating accident. I crushed my STERNUM, broke a few ribs and collarbone. I was wrapped in a sling, at a corporate recognition event, sitting poolside with my wife. People kindly checked on my well being throughout the day. One of my direct reports came up to me with his wife. I had only met her a few times and with total, genuine sincerity, she states the following: “Oh Lorne, I’m so sorry you’re hurt. How is your SCROTUM?”…. hmmmmmm… A long pause… A flash of crimson cheeks all around… A bust of laughter… And a quick exit… 

That story brings a huge smile to my face every time it comes to mind. And I never think anything but fondness for that couple. The intention was so thoughtful and well meaning. How could I? But when we are the ones delivering the embarrassing moments, it causes us to go “aaaargh.”

Character Moves:

  1. Let go. Your intent was right. The other person is so wrapped up in his or her own stuff they don’t have time to think about it. And if they get satisfaction from diminishing you, they have work to do.
  2. Be nice. A recent CBC Radio segment asked those turning 50 what they would do better regarding behavior if they had a chance for a redo: The overall consensus was, “be a nicer person.” START with YOU! Be nice.
  3. Embrace the situation. Embarrassing moments are like adding patina to a great dining room table. It gives character and richness. We do dumb stuff with the best intention because we are trying. Good for you and me.

No “Aaaargh” in The Triangle,