Book Review: Positive Intelligence

Shirzad Chamine. Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential. Austin, Texas: Greenleaf Books, 2012. 227 pages.

Positive Intelligence falls into an interesting intersection between self-help books and business strategy books. That’s certainly no accident; for most people, work is one the primary ways they express themselves. And, as we all know, our work is only as productive as our mindsets–and those of our co-workers–make it. So being a happier, more fulfilled person won’t just make you happier; it will make you a better leader and co-worker. Positive Intelligence

It’s no surprise, then, that Positive Intelligence author Shirzad Chamine is a master-trainer for executive coaches. While he spends some time talking about the psychology behind his PQ system, he spends much more time talking about it in personal terms. He’s not afraid to reveal that he became aware of the system’s Sage/Saboteur dichotomy thanks to a personal crisis triggered by an exercise he did as an MBA student at Stanford. Chamine’s personal approach is one of the book’s benefits; he’s not just describing the system to you, he explains why, using his own life as an example, he knows it works.

Does it work? Like any other self-help or strategy book, the answer depends more on the reader than on the author. Because this isn’t a book that one just reads passively; there are online evaluation tools to take an exercises to complete. Of course, just reading the book will give you a good perspective on Chamine’s system, but to really make it work, you need to put the effort into actually doing the work.

If you have the patience to commit to the system, it will likely help you. That may be because Chamine’s truly discovered the best way to maximize your potential, or it may be a Hawthorn effect of sorts: if you think more carefully about your thoughts and behavior for an extended period, you’re likely to start changing them for the better. If you do that for long enough, it will become second-nature.

So there’s definitely value to Positive Intelligence, and it’s likely that the book really will be able to help you–if you commit to it.