What is Positive Intelligence and your Awareness Quotient?
Your Awareness Quotient (AQ) is your ability to reflect on your thoughts and actions without judgement or bias or negative feelings. AQ enables you to practice self-awareness with compassion towards yourself.
Falguni Katira, author and Transformational Coach, describes self-awareness as, “… knowing not only who you are, but who you can become.”
Positive Intelligence (PQ) is the practice of mastering your negative thoughts so you spend more time in a positive mindset. PQ takes the knowledge gained from your compassionate self-awareness and gives you the mental fitness to put your desired changes into practice.
Dr. Shirzad Chamine, a leader in Positive Intelligence, says, “[PQ is] the percentage of time your mind is acting as your friend rather than your enemy.”
Now, who doesn’t want a friend – a Sage, as Dr. Chamine calls them – to support you as you improve your life?
Here’s what you will learn in this article:
- What is Your Awareness Quotient (AQ) and How to Develop It
- What is Positive Intelligence (PQ) and How to Strengthen It
- How AQ, PQ, EQ, and IQ are Related
- AQ + PQ + EQ + IQ = A Winning Formula
- Recap: When you Combine Your Positive Intelligence and Awareness Quotient You Can Make a Difference
Let’s get started!
What is Your Awareness Quotient (AQ) & How to Develop It
What is Your Awareness Quotient?
As mentioned at the beginning, your Awareness Quotient (AQ) is your ability to reflect on your thoughts and actions without judgement or bias or negative feelings. AQ enables you to practice self-awareness with compassion towards yourself.
Being compassionate with ourselves when we practice self-awareness helps us navigate our inner voices. Our poisonous inner critic who tells us we’re never right, our brash inner braggart who shouts we’re never wrong, and our compassionate inner advocate who tells us, without judgement, how things are. Not how we think they should be.
So, how do we develop our Awareness Quotient and recognize our strengths and the areas we need to work on without causing destructive feelings?
How to Develop Your Awareness Quotient
The most popular way to increase your self-awareness is journaling. Here are some topics and themes you can write about:
- What happened during the day
- How you are feeling in the moment
- What’s going on around you
- The goals you want to achieve
- Who you want to become
- The barriers you are aware of
- The people and events you are grateful for
- Your good and bad habits
Develop your awareness quotient by asking yourself actionable questions
Once I’ve written my thoughts, I begin a two-way conversation with my inner advocate by asking open-ended questions. The intent is to create a plan that outlines how I’m going to change. This constructive process of combining emotions with actionable steps helps bring balance and compassion to my reflections.
Plus, I’m a project manager, so creating lists and actionable plans is right up my street.
The questions I ask when journaling
- How can I encourage myself to… insert the behaviour I want to change?
- What barriers do I need to remove?
- To feel more energized I can…
- One small action I can take to move forward is…
- The way I’m feeling, is it true? Why?
Journaling and asking open ended questions is how you build your Awareness Quotient and understand the areas you want to change. Next is how we make the changes happen.
What is Positive Intelligence (PQ) and How to Strengthen It
What is Positive Intelligence (PQ)
Jacy Imilkowski, TedX speaker and Positive Intelligence Coach, explains PQ as the “… ability to navigate challenges.”
Shawn Achor, founder of the corporate strategy firm Good Think, explains, “People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. I call this the ‘happiness advantage’—every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive.”
Dr. Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours, says, “[when] you’re physically fit, you can climb steep hills without physical stress. If you’re mentally fit, you can handle life’s great challenges without mental stress or other negative emotions.”
Further, both Chamine and Achor highlight a study that shows project teams with higher-PQ managers perform 31% better on average when other factors are equal.
When you spend more time in a positive frame of mind your ability to reengage after setbacks quickens and the more likely you are to make the changes you have identified. Importantly, you can make the changes stick.
Two ways to strengthen your mental muscles and build your Positive Intelligence are Shawn Achor’s Happiness Advantage and Dr. Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence Program.
How to Strengthen Your Positive Intelligence: The Positive Intelligence Program
Dr. Chamine describes your Positive Intelligence Quotient as “the percentage of time your mind is acting as your friend rather than your enemy.”
The starting point is to identify the enemy, your saboteurs, the voices in your head who get in your way with negative thoughts. The loudest of these is the Judge.
Dr. Chamine defines the Judge as “… the one that beats you up repeatedly over mistakes or shortcomings, warns you obsessively about future risks, wakes you up in the middle of the night worrying, gets you fixated on what is wrong with others or your life, etc. Your Judge activates your other Saboteurs, causes much of your stress and unhappiness, reduces your effectiveness, and harms your relationships.”
Each of us has different levels of the following saboteurs:
When I took the program, the Avoider and Pleaser were my strongest saboteurs after the Judge.
The next step is to strengthen your ability to call on your positive thoughts, your inner Sage. This is where your mental fitness comes in. The idea is to spend more time listening to and acting on the advice of your Sage rather than your saboteurs.
Dr. Chamine lays out three strategies to do this:
Weaken your saboteurs
Identify which thoughts and emotions come from your saboteurs and add labels when they show up. Label the thought and let it go, rather than trusting it and pursuing it. Giving your negative emotions a label reduces their effect and helps you engage with your reasoning centre of the brain.
Strengthen your Sage – your positive thoughts
Shifting to this positive perspective more often and access the five powers that offer you far superior ways to handle challenges than the options the saboteurs offer.
- Empathy–You see compassion for yourself and your fellow humans.
- Explore–You are the most curious person in the room, able to discover things you wouldn’t have seen when you were upset or defensive.
- Innovate–You can turn your new found discoveries into creative solutions.
- Navigate–Choose a direction which moves you into bold…
Strengthen your PQ brain muscles
Focus on a physical action that helps magnify your Sage and minimize your saboteur. Dr. Chamine says, “[Shift] as much of your attention as you can to your body and any of your five senses for at least 10 seconds.“
For example, over three breaths, focus on the temperature of the surrounding air, the color of your partner’s eyes, the feel of your fingertips on your computer’s keyboard.
Do this throughout the day. Either at set times or when you need a pattern interrupt to break out of negative thoughts and shift to positive ones.
In the mornings, I look out the window at my desk and take three to five minutes to write what I see. As I write, I focus on the warmth of the fountain pen in my hand, the feedback of the pen’s nib on the notebook’s page, and the touch of my arms resting on the desk. If my cat appears, demanding to be fed, I focus on her soft fur and rumbling purr.
How to Strengthen Your Positive Intelligence: The Happiness Advantage
Another way to develop your Positive Intelligence is Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage. In his rapid fire TedX talk, Achor provides five ways to develop a positive outlook.
Each day, write three things you are grateful for. After 21 days, you have rewired your brain to view the positive events in the word first before any negative.
Write one positive experience from the last 24 hours. This allows your brain to relive it.
Exercise teaches your brain that behavior matters. Plus, you get fitter and healthier the longer you do it.
Meditation calms the mind and encourages our brains to focus on the task before us.
Random or conscious acts of kindness
Write and send a positive email or text, praising or thanking someone in your social network. Do it for a different person each day.
In his interview with Oprah, Achor says people who practice acts of kindness become known as positive leaders with strong social connections–the greatest predictor of long-term happiness.
Both Dr. Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence program and Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage provide the practical tools to make positive changes and become a success.
Choose the one that fits you best.
We’ve learnt what your Awareness Quotient and Positive Intelligence are. Now let’s look at how they relate to Emotional Intelligence and your Intelligence Quotient.
How AQ, PQ, EQ, & IQ are Related
Imagine a family tree with grandparents, parents, children, aunts and uncles.
At the top sits IQ, the venerable grandfather of the Intelligence Quotient dynasty. The original measurement of your ability to reason and solve problems. Next, the Intelligence Quotient family descends and branches out into Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ). Taking us into the third generation is Awareness Quotient (AQ) the child of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence, the oldest of the second generation siblings, is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. Your Awareness Quotient focuses your emotional control on your thoughts and actions.
While Emotional Intelligence promotes a mix of external and internal facing behaviours to achieve results, Positive Intelligence focuses on internal behaviours only.
AQ + PQ + EQ + IQ = A Winning Formula
AQ + PQ = Great Results
In her book, Blossom into Your Unique Self, The Power of Creating Holistic Wealth, Falguni Katira makes a powerful case for self-awareness and change. “As I stepped into my unique nature I was like, Okay, you can’t take this person lightly at all. She’s the real deal.”
To be seen as the real deal, authentic, the go-to person who gets things done, is a good thing. And the traits that get you there – a high Awareness Quotient and Positive Intelligence – are like rocket fuel for the journey.
However, the sudden ignition of too much rocket fuel will lead to devastating explosions. Or, as SpaceX might say, “a rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
Therefore, we need to find a sustainable balance between our positive thoughts and the amount of energy we have to enact them.
For example, say one area we want to improve is our empathy towards our team and colleagues. A great thing to do. But when we give too much for too long, without refilling our own tanks, it can create both emotional and physical challenges in the giver. This is a dilemma Jacy Imilkowski sees with her coaching clients.
“High-empathy, service-driven professionals often feel burned out from giving so much to others and have nothing left for themselves.“ She says.
To keep a sense of balance with our personal growth we add the stabilizers of IQ and EQ to our rocket fuel mix of AQ and PQ.
AQ + PQ + EQ + IQ = Lasting Results.
Effective systems are those that complement and enhance each other. Poor systems goad you into competition and cannibalization.
You could say collaboration over competition.
Dr. Chamine says, “Your potential is determined by many factors, including your cognitive intelligence (IQ), your emotional intelligence (EQ), and your skills, knowledge, experience, and social network.”
I like this quote because it acknowledges the benefits the rest of AQ and PQ’s family members provide. Remember the family tree from earlier? We all want a supportive family when it’s time to move our unused treadmill out of the garage or need some well timed advice. Nobody wants to be the sibling responsible for The Incident that caused our Sharon to spit her mouthful of red wine across mother’s antique table cloth.
How the whole family helps
Your Awareness Quotient (AQ) enables you to see with compassion how your thoughts impact your behaviours. Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) extends your compassionate awareness to those around you. To view your colleagues, clients, family, and friends with empathy and to care for how your actions influence them.
Like the lovable mentor in the family, your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) gives you the problem-solving and reasoning skills to understand what you’ve learnt through your awareness of self and others.
Your Positive Intelligence (PQ) provides the resilience and strength to change what you need and to maintain a curious and creative mindset. This empowers you to navigate challenges, achieve results, and keep acting in ways that encourage others to want to work with you.
Recap: When you Combine Your Positive Intelligence and Awareness Quotient You Can Make a Difference
How you achieve your potential can be practical and fun. That’s the point of increasing your stress resilience, looking out for others, and spending way more time being your best friend rather than your own worst enemy.
PQ, AQ, EQ, and IQ (that’s a lot of Qs!) give you the tools to help you see what’s working, what needs to change, and help you achieve your potential.
Shawn Achor says, “If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves.”
Now it’s time to put your AQ and PQ into practice and achieve those next level results!