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About Positive Intelligence

Hello, everybody, welcome to a new series of blogs and videos called 'The Coaching Conversation' presented by me, Graham Whiley. I've been coaching business leaders for the last two decades and in this series, we're going to explore some of the things I've seen and learned in that two decades, that will hopefully help you see how you can become more focused, more effective, and happier in your life.

So, it's now time to sit back, relax and enjoy The Coaching Conversation.



GRAHAM: Hello, and welcome to this edition of The Coaching Conversation. Once again, I'm pleased to be joined by coaches Tina Orlando and Mat Hayes and I’d love you to tell us a bit about yourselves.

TINA: Thanks, Graham. My name is Tina Orlando and I coach under Tina Orlando Coaching. I did my training for coaching and certification in the USA when I was living in New York for eight years. I’ve been coaching for about five years and before that, I was working in large global organisations and then I moved on to co-found a strategic communications agency; advising companies on business issues. Currently, I coach executives, leaders, CEOs, and founders on being the best that they can be, whether that's in a work or business scenario.

MAT: I’m Mat Hayes, co-founder of Humble Associates. I'm also an executive coach and an enterprise agile coach. I've worked with several start-ups; I’ve been a CTO and had all sorts of roles. My focus is around leading change and working with execs, and predominantly people that are working outside of their comfort zone.

GRAHAM: We've been working together all this year, and we've been collaborating around the work of Shirzad Chamine, based in California, and his mental fitness operating system called Positive Intelligence (PQ). How would you describe that work and how it applies to our coaching practices?

MAT: It's really interesting. I see PQ as a way of bringing in some really nice practices to bring in self-awareness, and how seeing and listening to the voice in your head and by seeing the damage it causes to relationships and to everything else - you may start to realise the negative impact that voice has on you. Fundamentally the last part is about doing something about it.

TINA: When I talk to people about PQ, I talk about mental resilience, mental fitness, mental strength, and the ability to recover from the setbacks that you always get thrown at you in life. Having that positive thought process, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy over time - So, if you lean to the negative, negative things will happen and to the positive vice versa.

To your point about saboteurs, what really interested me is that we've all done Myers-Briggs and lots of other character and personality assessments, but what I love about Positive Intelligence is that they've done factor analysis and all these different data points and brought in cognitive psychology and positive psychology.

They've come up with nine saboteurs that have everyday names like hyper-achiever, pleaser, hyper-vigilant, controller - all the things that we can recognise in ourselves and other people - it's very intuitive. It makes sense. Then of course the biggest one, which is the judge - that we all have - that beats us up all the time, and how to block that judge and talk to it in a different way.

GRAHAM: It's very interesting because as an organisation, The Executive Mindset, we've coached over a hundred people through this program just in 2021, and the effect that people have is awareness - they realised that they're the people that are putting themselves under stress. They are the people that are actually making themselves unhappy and that they are therefore in a position to turn that all around if they choose to.

The techniques that Shirzad has proven to work are just so simple – there is a combination of many things, whether it's mindfulness, whether it's meditation, whether it's CBT, there's a whole raft of research that he's pulled together and then he's put it on an app, which is a stroke of genius. Every day you get reminded that you need to be thinking this way, and you need to be doing this practice. It's absolutely fabulous. From my point of view, I've really loved seeing the transformational change that individuals bring about for themselves, and that's not a transient thing - this isn't a training course that they go on and then it's gone - this is something that they can live with forever. Fantastic!

MAT: What, what I really enjoyed about it is that the diversity of its uses. I did a pilot scheme with some NHS young doctors - they're under immense stress - and immediately they learnt how to apply it and got some new habits that allowed them to stop and think about what it is they're doing.

But equally, I've done PQ with leaders. I work in an agile environment. This is full of very difficult teams, and through interacting with them and by appreciating how to step back and see how they are responding is a common practice for me. Then, of course, the great part for us as coaches is that we're able to coach people on their responses and help them take things further so they can form new habits that are more congruent with the team and support the team.

TINA: I think you were beginning to talk there about going beyond business and being on the team and being in the role - I have found, and what struck me personally, through being a student of PQ and through the relationship I have with some of my coachees going through PQ, is that actually one of the outcomes of it is increased happiness. I don't know any other training program that I've been on that has that as a goal or seeks to influence that, or has that as a legitimate outcome. It's a lovely thing to be able to bring to the executive and leadership coaching because at the end of the day, we're all coaching humans and we're all humans. One of the biggest desires in life is to be happy and enjoy it more.

GRAHAM: I love the definition Shirzad uses for happiness - It's the amount of time you don't spend feeling negative, the amount of time you don't spend being beaten up by your saboteurs, as opposed to walking around with a grin on your face. I just think it just absolutely summarises his operating system - it's the way in which you approach life that releases the stress, releases the pressure and by definition, makes you feel less unhappy.

MAT: There's something else too. Once the saboteur names become common knowledge within a leadership team, they start to be able to talk about it with each other. So, it's no longer about criticism, it's either ‘I'm noticing my own saboteurs and I'm avoiding a conversation with you, or I'm not comfortable with where this is going. Or they can comfortably say 'I've noticed that your Pleaser is here right now so how would you like me to support you personally?

I've got hyper-vigilant, which means I look for everything that could go wrong now - that's really great when I’m creating things, but what I didn't appreciate is the impact on others. They think I'm being critical of their own ideas and that I'm shutting them down when actually I'm just trying to understand them more. As soon as I explain that, their back isn’t up, they're not thinking that I'm trying to criticise and they understand that I'm trying to just get some understanding so I can evolve their ideas further.

I think these different saboteurs are so accessible, that everyone can immediately pick ‘I do that’. Even the simple one of a pleaser - for example, when driving a car and letting someone come through and then getting annoyed when they didn't say thank you - regardless of whether you've got the pleaser in you - so many people do that and weren't recognised, so why is that annoying to me? It's them not me, and maybe I should expect not to be pleased.

TINA: It's very much for me - which is quite liberating – about taking responsibility for yourself. All of your emotional responses and reactions to everything. A lot of us tend to reflect or deflect - if that hadn't happened my day would be better, or if that person hadn't put me in a bad mood. It's the relief of realising that I am in control of all of the things, and life is going to keep throwing all this stuff at me, but it's my decision every time it happens, every hour of every day, as to how I'm going to respond or what I'm going to do as a result of it. And that's just so empowering.

GRAHAM: One of the simplest examples that I find is road rage - If someone cuts you up on the motorway, depending on how you respond will drive the outcome. You could retaliate - that's likely to end badly, or you could ignore it and it'll go away. But it's your choice and life is like that. What I found with Shirzad’s work is that it's showing you that your tendency to how you will react is entirely predictable and you can change it. It's all about neuroscience and you can change it. It is your opportunity to be living a different life if you want to.

MAT: I think the fact that it's all science-based as well as the book that comes with it, means that if you think ‘I don't get this’, there's a lot of science behind the coaching techniques, which is indisputable. That allows you to take a leap of faith. It is real - there are MRI scans to prove it – and that helps people get over any initial hesitation. What might seem like mumbo-jumbo, is really tough practice; and as you go on and you see it immediately, it's very visible.

GRAHAM: What is interesting is that we came together at the beginning of the year, to share and work together, and to develop and study our skills in PQ, and here we are towards the end of 2021 extolling the virtues. It has not been a waste of our time, it has not been a waste of our money, and it's certainly not been a waste of our client's time or their money.

I think we need to bring our discussion to a clear conclusion now. So once again, Tina, Matt, thanks so much for joining us on The Coaching Conversation and hopefully we'll see you again soon.


So, there you have it, the latest edition of The Coaching Conversation. I hope you found it interesting. I hope you found it useful. You can find out more about our coaching programmes at

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