Mental Fitness: How to Thrive During Challenging Times

by Kathleen Fanning



Coaches and trainers are always upskilling and building up their knowledge base to serve their clients better. In recent years, the whole area of neuroscience has caught our imagination with the wonderful ‘discovery’ of neuroplasticity. As learning and development practitioners, we’ve always believed in the concept of Lifelong Learning, but we now have the scientific evidence. Our values and research are in tandem as never before.


In these stimulating times, a new body of research has emerged. Shirzad Chamine, a Stanford Professor and CEO of Positive Intelligence®, and his team have brought together: Positive Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Performance Science and Neuroscience to create a new model and programme.  Shirzad’s research into the principles of Positive Intelligence® has included: 



  • Hundreds of CEOs
  • Sales, operations and technology teams
  • Stanford students
  • Elite athletes
  • Some 400,000 participants from 50 countries





But what is it about?


Positive Intelligence® - often referred to as PQ - is defined as “the capacity to respond to life’s challenges with positive growth-oriented joy and fulfillment rather than restrictive, stagnant, and limiting beliefs.” The impact of building up our PQ can be seen in improved performance, increased peace of mind and wellness and healthier relationships. Like Positive Psychology it overturns the notion that we need to work hard so we can succeed and then be happy. Instead, high PQ leads to success and happiness. It really does sound too good to be true, but it isn’t!


As trainers and coaches, many of us have experienced frustration that the apparent changes and learnings do not seem to last. How often in our own lives have we been disappointed that the new job, new relationship or new course of study did not bring the desired level of happiness? PQ suggests that lasting positive change requires 20% insight and 80% application. Our brain falls back into the default patterns all too easily.


PQ also offers another explanation, i.e., that our brain works for us and against us. Simply put, our Saboteur mind and our Sage mind are continually battling it out. The 10 Saboteurs on the menu: Judge, Avoider, Controller, Hyper-Achiever, Hyper-Rational, Hyper-Vigilant, Pleaser, Restless, Stickler and Victim, are stressed and overactive versions of the gifts housed in our Sage or wise mind. One side motivates us through fear, stress, guilt or shame while the Sage mind prompts us with clear-headed focus, creativity, peace and calm. In addition, the Sage mind sees challenge and adversities as potential gifts or opportunities using curiosity, empathy and innovation to do this.


Testimonials from senior executives speak of:


  • An increase in gratitude
  • An increase in empathy
  • An increase in confidence
  • Being calmer
  • Being more in control of their emotions
  • Being more positive
  • Being less reactionary


Learn more about PQ and your own top Saboteurs complete the free assessment HERE.



Chamine, S. (2016). Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.
KATHLEEN FANNING, MEd, PCC is a resilience and wellbeing coach and trainer. Her focus is on supporting women in business and higher education to find balance, confidence and joy in their professional and personal lives. She recently added Positive Intelligence® to her coaching toolkit and is amazed by the transformation in her clients.
Twitter: @iiycoaching




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