Chapter 2: Three Stages to Improve PQ

This chapter introduces the Saboteurs, the Sage, and the three strategies for improving your PQ.

By now, you should have a decent understanding of what Carmine is suggesting. We fail most of time because we sabotage ourselves. New Year’s resolutions, company team building retreats, seminars, books, trainings, etc. Many of them leave us coming out strong, but that empowerment typically fizzles out because of self sabotage. Carmine personifies common sabotaging traits and thoughts and identifies ten of them. Pitted against them in a battle for your very thoughts is the Sage, the personification of the thoughts that bring you success, peace, and contentment. It is here that Carmine asserts that the Sage and the Saboteurs are literally controlled by different parts of the brain. The war within your thoughts is literally a battle between two parts of your brain for domination. One can’t help but be reminded of Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego characterizations given to the characters in Lord of the Flies. A fascinating idea if true, but he provides no source.

Saboteurs, reveal yourselves!

The ten Saboteurs are:

  • Judge
  • Stickler
  • Pleaser
  • Hyper-Achiever
  • Victim
  • Hyper-Rational
  • Hyper-Vigilant
  • Restless
  • Controller
  • Avoider

Carmine insists that the Judge is the master that everyone suffers from. It is what forces you to find fault in any and everything. It leads to destructive feelings such as anxiety, stress, anger, disappointment, shame, and guilt. It lies to you, saying that without it, you and all others would turn lazy and unambitious. Carmine claims that many conflate the Judge with tough love or the voice of reason. Aside from “voice of reason” I didn’t quite relate to this Saboteur until later in the chapter, then very much so in Chapter 4.

The Stickler is in essense the perfectionist. It is a time and energy sink, as it demands that you make perfect details that are actually unimportant. It does nothing good but leave you constantly frustrated. It just lies right to your face, arguing that perfection is always desirable and low cost.

The Pleaser tells you to seek others acceptance and affection. Eventually, if left unchecked, you lose sight of your needs and resent others for theirs. It lies to you by appealing to your altruism, saying that pleasing others is a good thing, while denying that you are only doing it to gain attention.

The Hyper-Achiever convinces you that your value is based on your performance. It is never satisfied, so it is always looking for the next challenge, leaving you never satisfied either. This Saboteur is often associated with workaholics. It’s lie is also straightforward; it is simply false that your self-acceptance is based on your performance.

The Victim makes you use emotion and temperment to gain attention. With the Victim, you inevitably decline into a wretch that leaves you drained and others wary of your presense, as you tend to make them feel guilty or helpless because you are never happy for long. It lies to you by saying that appearing helpless or attacked is the best way to garner love and care from others.

The Hyper-Rational is an intense focus on rational thought. I immediately recognized this Saboteur. You find yourself impatient with others, especially when they don’t agree with you or are emotionally conflicted. This leads others to perceive you as cold and arrogant. It greatly limits your ability to have meaningful relationships, both personally and professionally. It’s lie is that the rational mind is the most important and helpful form of intelligence.

The Hyper-Vigilant keeps you up at night. You are always an guard and ready for disaster, even when you are assured of your security. This Saboteur turns you into a worrywart and wears you down into an instinctual, rather than complex, creature. It lies to you saying the dangers around you are bigger than they really are and that only with constant vigilance can you hope to overcome them.

The Restless is never satiated. It makes you seek out busywork or “the next thing” without allowing you to enjoy the place you are already in. Nobody can keep up with you because you never stop moving. It lies to you making you think that your business is evidence of living life fully, but neglects to mention that you forego living in the first place in the constant pursuit to live fully.

The Controller uses anxiety to convince you that you and you alone must take charge and control everything around you. When that is not possible, the anxiety can be crippling. The Controller tells you the world is binary, where your control of it is good and any lack of control over it is bad. The Controller can typically bring you short-term results, but typically leaves people resenting you and much less willing to express their own full potential. It’s lie is that you unequivocally need the Controller to get the best results. This one line is very true for me.

The Avoider is fixated on the positive, to the extent that it avoids all negativity. This leads to procrastination of unpleasant tasks and conflict avoidance. Eventually, it boils over and erupts into conflicts and actions that resolve nothing and usually make matters worse. It’s lie is ironic, in light of my first thoughts about the book. It tells you that you are being positive, not avoiding anything, and that negativity will resolve itself.

Enter The Sage, Savior of Our Souls

The Sage is your champion. Your David to the Goliath of your Saboteurs. It can rise above the lies the Saboteurs fed you, conquer them, and usher you into thoughts that truly lead to happiness and success. To the Sage, challenges are either opportunities or can be turned into one. The Sage has five “great powers”:

  1. Explore with curiosity and an open mind
  2. Empathize with yourself and others
  3. Innovate and create new solutions
  4. Navigate to a path that aligns with your underlying values
  5. Activate, allowing decisive actions without the Saboteurs’ influence.

Later chapters delve into these powers and how to use them.

Three Strategies to Improve PQ

Carmine offers three strategies to improve your PQ. Weaken your Saboteurs, strengthen your Sage, and Strengthen your PQ brain muscles. Executing these strategies is really quite simple. Weakening your Saboteurs simply entails calling them out when they show their face. For example, if you find yourself leaning heavily on reason when other factors are clearly at play, you identify the Hyper-Rational is sabotaging your success at that moment. From there, shift your perspective to the Sage because it always offers far superior options. Later chapters will reveal how to do this and use the Sage’s powers with “fun power games”. I’m looking forward to that. Finally, strengthening your PQ brain muscles sounds ridiculous, but it is very simple. Eventually we will realize the difference between the PQ brain and our “Survivor brain”, and using short techniques such as rubbing your fingers together attentively for ten seconds. These three strategies all strengthen your Sage while weakening your Saboteurs, and can be carried out with techniques that take ten seconds or less.

Final Question

The chapter concludes with the final questions:

What do you have energizing, hopeful, or exciting about Positive Intelligence? What are you skeptical about? How would you know your skepticism was generated by a Saboteur trying to stay in power?

I’m hopeful that Positive Intelligence will deliver on its promise. Those numers provided in the first chapter sound good to me. I would very must like to improve certain success factor by double digit percents. I’m excited to see if it works. I’m excited to see if I can recognize Saboteurs and the Sage, and positively affect my thinking. At the same time, I’m skeptical about the very nature of the whole thing. There’s a certain level of sense to the “survivor brain” idea, where the Saboteurs are merely personifications of thoughts that should be keeping us alive, if we were living out in the bush. But since we are civilized, due to the PQ brain presumably, we no longer require the survival brain to keep us alive, and in fact, it undoes our chanse for succes in our current culture. The sense is there, but I often find such characterizations … odd. But maybe that’s just Hyper-Rational and Controller telling me that I need full and rational understanding (of which metaphors cannot fit ever) so that I can be assured of the success of the proposition. Ha! We’ll see.

A fun challenge for you

Seeing this list of Saboteurs, I immediately thought that ten of anything needs an acronym or a mnemonic device. See if you can come up with a single word that uses letters from the names of the Saboteurs or a sentence where the first letter of every word matches the first letter of the names of the Saboteurs.

So far I have no acronyms and one partial mnemonic device: All saboteurs vie for control, removing your happiness, pleasure, …

Help me out here, guys. Comment with your suggestions and ideas. Full solutions will be awarded 10 points and 42 Aristotle Bucks.

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Positive Intelligence Review – Part 2 – Three Stages to Improve PQ