You probably heard of Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), how about Positive Intelligence (PQ)? How familiar are you with those? I knew about IQ and EQ, but I wasn't aware of PQ.
The book Positive Intelligence (PQ), in simple words, describes positive intelligence as the time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you. In a particular example, The author was hired as a consultant for a company that was undergoing a major crisis. The author suggested starting every meeting with one question “What do we need to do so that within three years we can say this current crisis was the best thing that could ever happen to our company?” The senior leaders were skeptical, in the beginning, but when that question was asked, again and again, they were able to shift their mindset from anxiety, disappointment, guilt, blame to curiosity, creativity, excitement and resolute action. Things got better, and sure enough, the company was able to survive the crisis and thrive.
Our minds are our best friends, but also our worst enemies and they can sabotage our growth. It all depends on who are we listening to. In our minds live our own saboteurs, the master saboteur is the judge, but there are others; the perfectionist, the pushover, the hyper-achiever, the victim, the over-analytical, the restless and the hyper-vigilant, the controller and the avoider. The problem is that these saboteurs become the invisible voice in your head that controls the way you think and act.
Contrary to the saboteurs there is another set of “voices” that if we hear them more often, we can achieve a level of personal satisfaction and happiness. They can put us in a great mood, all the time; these are the explorer, the empathizer, the innovator, the navigator, and the activator.
Many years ago, I underwent a series extreme life changing events that were hard to go thru. Being diagnosed with a brain tumor, the end of my professional career to the collapse of my marriage were some, but not all. The divorce was particularly painful, it was very sad and very tumultuous time for me. It was, in fact, the only time in my life when I actually considered taking my life. I was thinking over and over again; I am not good enough, I can’t do anything right. I was blaming myself for the collapse of my marriage; I even blamed myself for things I never had control over, e.g. the brain tumor diagnosis.
I realized many years later that the way I was able to survive and move on was the fact that somehow, I started asking myself a question “what can I do about this?” And soon, answers began to flow, mentors and teachers started to appear and opportunities to materialize.
Reading this book stroke a big cord to me, especially the simple way we can grow our positive intelligence and activate that set of voices that will silence our saboteurs. It complements the “growth mindset” blog post I wrote about earlier. This takes the growth mindset to a whole other level. The question I used to ask myself was “what can I do about this?” focuses on solving a present issue. In a way, as the great ultrarunner, David Horton said "I was trying to "Find the level of intolerance I could tolerate and stay there." But asking the question “What do I need to do so that within three years I can say this current crisis was the best thing that could ever happen to me?” focuses on the future by acting on the present, Whoa… the outcome?; you will perform better and positively even in the middle of a crisis.
In the Ultramarathon community there is a saying, "If you're feeling really bad, don't worry, it will pass and if you're feeling really good, that will pass too". Life is similar, at one point or another we will be faced with a sudden change, a loss, a challenge. If you haven't had one recently, just wait, it will come. But when it comes, remember the question, “What do I need to do so that within three years I can say this current crisis was the best thing that could ever happen to me?”
As for myself, looking back, I realize that my divorce and even the brain tumor were the best things that could ever happen to me.