Mental Fitness – The Source of Power & Happiness

  • If you are physically fit, you can climb steep hills without physical stress.
  • If you are mentally fit, you can face life’s big challenges without mental stress or other negative emotions.
  • How can I evolve to more energy, performance, and satisfaction, both in my personal life and at work?

What does MentalFitness.University do?

The goal is to face life challenges, well-being and healthy relationships with a positive instead of negative mindset. The foundation for this is laid in a 6-week app-based Positive Intelligence program.

How to sabotage yourself

A key to mental fitness is to weaken your inner saboteurs. Their way of responding to challenges causes all your stress, anxiety, self-doubt and frustration, dissatisfaction, shame, and guilt. Saboteurs include the judge, the controller, the avoider, the victim, the stickler, and five others.

Your “sage” – your wisdom – lives in a different region of your brain. Your approach to challenges is associated with positive emotions such as curiosity, compassion, creativity, calmness, and clear, focused action. When you let your wisdom guide you, you perform better and are happier.

Discover your personal top saboteur in the free Saboteur-Assessment.

Mental Fitness (PQ) – Saboteur Descriptions

Saboteur Descriptions – from Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine


Focusing on the positive and pleasant in an extreme way. Avoiding difficult and unpleasant tasks and conflicts.


  • Avoids conflict and says yes to things one wouldn’t want.
  • Downplays importance of real problems and tries to deflect others. Has difficulty saying no.
  • Resists others through passive-aggressive means rather than directly.
  • Loses self in comforting routines and habits; procrastinates on unpleasant tasks.


  • This is just too unpleasant. Maybe if I let it go it will take care of itself.
  • If I deal with this now, I will hurt her feeling. I’d rather not.
  • If I get into conflict with others, I might lose my connection with them.
  • I have found balance. I don’t want to mess with it. I’d rather give someone else their way than create a scene.


  • Even keel.
  • Anxiety about what has been avoided or procrastinated.
  • Fear about hard-won peace of mind being interrupted.
  • Suppressed anger and resentment rather than expressed anger.

Justification Lies

  • You are a good person to spare others’ feelings.
  • No good comes out of conflict.
  • It is good to be flexible.
  • Someone needs to be the peacemaker.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Denying the conflicts and negativities that do exist prevents one from actually working with them and turning them into gifts.
  • Feeling numb to pain is different than knowing how to harvest the wisdom and power of pain.
  • What is avoided doesn’t go away and festers. Relationships are kept superficial through conflict avoidance.
  • Others’ trust level is reduced as they are not sure when negative information is being withheld.

Original Survival Function

Avoider could rise from both happy and difficult childhoods. In happy childhood, one might not have learned the resiliency of dealing with difficult emotions. In a childhood of high conflict and tension, the Avoider might come in to play peacemaker and learn to not add any negativity or tension of one’s own on top of the existing family tensions.


Anxiety-based need to take charge and control situations and people’s actions to one’s own will. High anxiety and impatience when that is not possible.


  • Strong energy and need to control and take charge.
  • Connect with others through competition, challenge, physicality, or conflict rather than softer emotions.
  • Willful, confrontational, straight talker.
  • Push people beyond comfort zone.
  • Comes alive when doing the impossible and beating the odds.
  • Stimulated by and connects through conflict.
  • Surprised that others get hurt.
  • Intimidate others.
  • In-your-face communication interpreted by others as anger or criticism.


  • You are either in control or out of control.
  • If I work hard enough I can and should control the situation so it goes my way.
  • Others want and need me to take control.
  • You are doing them a favor.
  • No one tells me what to do.


  • High anxiety when things are not going my way.
  • Angry and intimidating when others don’t follow.
  • Impatient with other’s feelings and different styles
  • Does feel hurt and rejected, although rarely admit to it.

Justification Lies

  • Without the Controller, you can’t get much done.
  • You need to push people.
  • If I don’t control, I will be controlled, and I can’t live with that.
  • I am trying to get the job done for all our sakes.

Impact on Self and Others

  • The Controller does get temporary results but at the cost of others feeling controlled and resentful and not able to tap into their own greater reserves.
  • Controller also generates a great deal of anxiety as many things in work and life are ultimately not controllable.

Original Survival Function

Underneath the bravado of the Controller there is often a hidden fear of being controlled by others or life. Controller is sometimes associated with early life experiences where the child is forced to grow up fast, be on its own, and take charge of its chaotic or dangerous surroundings in order to survive physically and/or emotionally. It is also associated with being hurt, rejected, or betrayed and deciding to never be that vulnerable again.


Dependent on constant performance and achievement for self-respect and self-validation. Highly focused on external success, leading to unsustainable workaholic tendencies and loss of touch with deeper emotional and relationship needs.



  • Competitive, image and status conscious
  • Good at covering up insecurities and showing positive image.
  • Adapt personality to fit what would be most impressive to the other. Goal oriented and workaholic streak.
  • More into perfecting public image than introspection.
  • Can be self promoting.
  • Can keep people at safe distance.



  • I must be best at what I do.
  • If I can’t be outstanding, I won’t bother.
  • Must be efficient and effective.
  • Emotions get in the way of performance.
  • Focus on thinking and action.
  • I can be anything I want to be.
  • You are worthy as long as you are successful and others think well of you.



  • I don’t like dwelling in feelings for too long.
  • They distract from achieving my goals.
  • Sometimes I feel empty and depressed inside, but don’t linger there.
  • Important to me to feel successful. That’s what it is all about. I feel worthy mostly when I am successful.
  • Could have fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Closeness with others would allow them to see that I am not as perfect as the image I portray.


Justification Lies

  • Life is about achieving and producing results.
  • Portraying a good image helps me achieve results.
  • Feelings are just a distraction and don’t help anything.


Impact on Self and Others

  • Peace and happiness is fleeting and short-lived in brief celebrations of achievement.
  • Self-acceptance is continuously conditioned on the next success.
  • Lose touch with deeper feelings, deeper self, and ability to connect deeply with others.
  • Others might be pulled into the performance vortex of the Hyper-Achiever and become similarly lopsided in their focus on external achievement.

Original Survival Function

For the Hyper-Achiever, self-validation, self-acceptance and self-love are all conditional—conditioned on continual performance. This is often the result of either conditional or altogether absent validation from parental figures. Even with very loving and approving parents, it is easy for children to get the sense that they are loved in return for achieving, obeying the rules, having good manners, etc, rather than unconditionally.


Intense and exclusive focus on the rational processing of everything, including relationships. Can be perceived as cold, distant, and intellectually arrogant.


  • Intense and active mind, sometimes coming across as intellectually arrogant or secretive.
  • Private and don’t let many people into my deeper feelings.
  • Mostly show feelings through passion in ideas.
  • Prefer to just watch the craziness around me and analyze from a distance.
  • Can lose track of time due to my intense concentration.
  • High penchant for skepticism and debate.


  • The rational mind is where it is at.
  • Feelings are distracting and irrelevant.
  • Many people are so irrational and sloppy in their thinking.
  • Needs and emotions of others distract me from my projects.
  • I need to shut out intrusions.
  • What I value most is knowledge, understanding, and insight.
  • Self worth is attached to mastering knowledge and competence.


  • Frustrated with others being emotional and not rational enough.
  • Anxious about preserving personal time, energy, and resources against intrusions.
  • Feeling different, alone, and not understood.
  • Often skeptical or cynical.

Justification Lies

The rational mind is the most important thing. It should be protected from the wasteful intrusion of people’s messy emotions and needs, so it can get its work done.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Limits the depth and flexibility of relationships in work and life by analyzing rather than experiencing feelings.
  • Intimidates less analytically intense people.

Original Survival Function

The Hyper-Rational is a good survival strategy in early childhood circumstances of emotional turmoil or chaotic surroundings. The escape into the neat and orderly rational mind generates a sense of security or a sense of intellectual superiority. It also gains us attention and praise by showing up as the smartest person in the room.


Continuous intense anxiety about all the dangers and what could go wrong. Vigilance that can never rest.


  • Always anxious, with chronic doubts about self and others.
  • Extraordinary sensitivity to danger signals.
  • Constant expectation of mishap or danger.
  • Suspicious of what others are up to.
  • People mess up.
  • Might seek reassurance and guidance in procedures, rules, authorities, institutions.


  • When is the other shoe going to drop?
  • If I make a mistake, I fear everyone is going to jump down my throat.
  • I want to trust people, but I find myself suspicious of their motives.
  • I need to know what the rules are, although I might not always follow them.


  • Skeptical, even cynical.
  • Often anxious and highly vigilant.

Justification Lies

  • Life is full of dangers.
  • If I don’t look out for them, who will?

Impact on Self and Others

  • This is a hard way to live.
  • The constant anxiety burns a great deal of vital energy that could otherwise be put to great use.
  • Loses credibility due to the “crying wolf” phenomenon.
  • Others begin to avoid the Hyper-Vigilant as the intensity of that energy drains them.

Original Survival Function

The Hyper-Vigilant often comes from early experiences where the source of safety and security (parental figure) was unpredictable and unreliable. It could also result when painful unexpected events proved life to be threatening or unreliable.


Indirectly tries to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others. Loses sight of own needs and becomes resentful as a result.


  • Has a strong need to be liked by people and attempts to earn it by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering them.
  • Needs frequent reassurance by others about their acceptance and affection.
  • Can’t express own needs openly and directly. Does so indirectly by having people feel obligated to reciprocate care.


  • To be a good person I should put the needs of others ahead of my own.
  • It bothers me when people don’t notice or care about what I have done for them.
  • They can be selfish and ungrateful.
  • I give away too much and don’t think of myself enough.
  • I can make anyone like me.
  • If I don’t rescue people, who will?


  • Expressing own needs directly feels selfish.
  • Worried that insisting on own needs may drive others away.
  • Resentful for being taken for granted, but have difficulty expressing it.

Justification Lies

  • I don’t do this for myself.
  • I help others selflessly and don’t expect anything in return.
  • The world would be a better place if everyone did the same.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Can jeopardize taking care of one’s own needs including emotionally, physically, or financially.
  • Can lead to resentment and burnout.
  • Others can develop dependence rather than learn to take care of themselves, and feel obligated, guilty, or manipulated.

Original Survival Function

The Pleaser tries to earn attention and acceptance through helping others. This is an indirect attempt to have one’s emotional needs met. It is fed by two original assumptions that are picked up in childhood: 1. I must put others’ needs ahead of my own. 2. I must give love and affection in order to get any back. I must earn it and am not simply worthy of it.


Restless, constantly in search of greater excitement in the next activity or constant busyness. Rarely at peace or content with the current activity.


  • Easily distracted and can get too scattered.
  • Stays busy, juggling many different tasks and plans.
  • Seeks excitement and variety not comfort or safety.
  • Bounces (escapes) from unpleasant feelings very quickly.
  • Seeks constant new stimulation.


  • This isn’t fulfilling.
  • This next thing has got to be more exciting.
  • These negative feelings suck.
  • I must shift my attention to something exciting.
  • Why can’t anyone keep up with me?


  • Impatience with what is happening now.
  • Wondering what is next.
  • Fear of missing out on other more worthwhile experiences.
  • Restless and wanting more and more options.
  • Worried that focus on any unpleasant feeling will grow and become overwhelming.

Justification Lies

  • Life is too short.
  • It must be lived fully.
  • I don’t want to miss out.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Underneath the surface of fun and excitement of the Restless is an anxiety based escape from being present to this moment’s full experience, which might include dealing with unpleasant things.
  • The Restless avoids a real and lasting focus on the issues and relationships that truly matter.
  • Others have a difficult time keeping up with the frenzy and chaos brought by the Restless and unable to build anything sustainable around it.

Original Survival Function

The Restless is a strategy to find constant new sources of excitement, pleasure, and self-nurturing. This could be associated with early life experiences with inadequate parental nurturing or painful circumstances. Restless indulgence not only provided substitute self nurturing, but also an escape from having to deal with anxiety and pain.


Perfectionism and a need for order and organization taken too far.


  • Punctual, methodical, perfectionist.
  • Can be irritable, tense, opinionated, sarcastic.
  • Highly critical of self and others.
  • Strong need for self-control and self-restraint.
  • Works overtime to make up for others’ sloppiness and laziness.
  • Is highly sensitive to criticism.


  • Right is right and wrong is wrong.
  • I know the right way.
  • If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it at all.
  • Others too often have lax standards.
  • I need to be more organized and methodical than others so things get done.
  • I hate mistakes.


  • Constant frustration and disappointment with self and others for not living up to ideal standards.
  • Anxious that others will mess up the order and balance I have created.
  • Sarcastic or self-righteous overtones.
  • Suppressed anger and frustration.

Justification Lies

  • This is a personal obligation.
  • It is up to me to fix whatever mess I encounter.
  • Perfectionism is good, plus it makes me feel better about myself.
  • There is usually a clear right and clear wrong way to do things.
  • I know how things should be done and must do the right thing.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Causes rigidity and reduces flexibility in dealing with change and others’ different styles.
  • Is a source of ongoing anxiety and frustration.
  • Causes resentment, anxiety, self-doubt, and resignation in others, who feel continually criticized and resign themselves that no matter how hard they work they will never please the Stickler.

Original Survival Function

The Stickler offers a way of quieting the constant voice of self judgment and fear of others’ judgments through trying to be perfect. If you do what is right, you will be beyond interference and reproach by others. Perfection and order brings a sense of temporary relief. Might have generated a sense of order in the middle of a chaotic family dynamic, or earned acceptance and attention from emotionally distant or demanding parents by standing out as the unreproachable perfect kid.


Emotional and temperamental as a way to gain attention and affection. An extreme focus on internal feelings, particularly painful ones. Martyr streak.


  • If criticized or misunderstood, tend to withdraw, pout, and sulk.
  • Fairly dramatic and temperamental.
  • When things get tough, want to crumble and give up.
  • Repressed rage results in depression, apathy, and constant fatigue.
  • Unconsciously attached to having difficulties.
  • Get attention by having emotional problems, or being temperamental and sullen.


  • No one understands me.
  • Poor me.
  • Terrible things always happen to me.
  • I might be uniquely disadvantaged or flawed.
  • I am what I feel.
  • I wish someone would rescue me from this dreary mess.


  • Tend to brood over negative feelings for a long time.
  • Feel alone and lonely, even when I’m around people I am close to.
  • Feelings of melancholy and abandonment.
  • Envy and negative comparisons.

Justification Lies

  • Maybe this way I get some of the love and attention that I deserve.
  • Sadness is a noble and sophisticated thing that shows exceptional depth, insight, and sensitivity.

Impact on Self and Others

  • Vitality wasted through focus on internal processing and brooding.
  • Backfires by pushing people away.
  • Others feel frustrated, helpless, or guilty that they can’t put more than a temporary BandAid on the Victim’s pain.

Original Survival Function

The Victim is sometimes associated with a childhood experience of not feeling seen and accepted, coming to believe that something is especially wrong with you. Victim is a strategy to squeeze out some affection from those who would otherwise not be paying attention. The moods mimic a false sense of aliveness.

Introducing the PQ Program

Designed like a mental fitness bootcamp, the PQ Program gives you the insights, motivation, and structure to practice 15 minutes per day for 6 weeks. The program combines weekly video sessions with daily app-guided practices to boost your 3 core mental fitness muscles.

Six Weeks of Inspired Practice:

Week 1: Boost Your Self-Command Muscle

  • The first week you learn innovative 10-second PQ Reps that boost your self-command. This enables you to run your brain rather than being run by your Saboteur-hijacked brain. Self-command is key to intercepting unhelpful mental habits and rewiring your brain to respond more effectively.
  • Try out and discover PQ Reps that are most effective for you.
  • Reach the minimum target for PQ Reps/day to achieve rewiring goal within 6 weeks.
  • Use the app’s breakthrough PQ Charge Meter to ensure optimal brain activation before important activities.
  • Declare an audacious aspiration–what you want to achieve through this program.

Week 2: Intercept the Judge Saboteur

  • For this entire week, you’ll intercept and weaken the most damaging Saboteur, the Judge. You discover how judging yourself, others, and circumstances is a key source of your stress and quite damaging to your performance. Most participants discover their Judge to be far more prevalent and damaging than they suspected.
  • Expose your Judge’s hidden lies, limiting beliefs, and negative patterns.
  • Reveal your Judge’s impact on performance, relationships, and stress.
  • Practice intercepting your Judge before it hijacks you.
  • Rewire your negative neural pathways by redirecting the Judge response.

Week 3: Intercept your Accomplice Saboteurs

  • This week you intercept and weaken the top accomplice to your Judge Saboteur, identified through the Saboteur Assessment from the following: Avoider, Controller, Hyper-Achiever, Hyper-Rational, Hyper-Vigilant, Pleaser, Restless, Stickler, Victim.
  • Expose your accomplice Saboteur’s hidden lies, limiting beliefs and negative patterns.
  • Reveal this Saboteur’s impact on performance, relationships, and stress.
  • Discover how to quickly intercept this Saboteur before it hijacks you.
  • Rewire your negative neural pathways by redirecting this Saboteur’s response.

Week 4: Shift from Saboteur to Sage

  • After weakening your Saboteurs, it is now time to strengthen your Sage, the counterpart to your Saboteurs. Your Sage lives in an entirely different part of your brain, generates all your positive emotions, and achieves peak performance through a calm and clear mind.
  • Practice the Sage Perspective that every outcome or circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity.
  • Use the 3 Gifts Technique to find the opportunity in setbacks.
  • Replace draining self-judgment with energizing self-acceptance and empathy.
  • Boost speed of recovery from failures and setbacks.

Week 5: Boost the Sage Powers

  • The Sage region of the brain enables 5 primary powers. Analogous to the 3 primary colors, these 5 powers recombine to form all of the emotional intelligence competencies considered crucial to professional success.
  • Augment your mental toolbox with 5 Sage powers.
  • Practice 3 techniques to activate each power.
  • Know when to use which power–right tool at the right time.
  • Boost emotional intelligence through combinations of the 5 primary powers

Week 6: Take Clear-Headed, Laser-Focused Action

  • In our final week, you use your Sage’s Navigate and Activate powers to take clear-headed, laser-focused, decisive action.
  • Use your Sage’s Navigate power to align your actions with a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.
  • Use your Sage’s Activate power to act without fear or emotional distractions even in midst of great crises.
  • Discover your Sage’s deep wisdom, far surpassing your analytical intelligence.
  • Discover how your Sage generates your highest performance while enjoying every step–“in the zone.”

Final Session: Sustain the Momentum

  • In this final session, you discover how to continue using your PQ tools for a variety of work and life applications.
  • Learn how to further apply to peak performance in selling and persuading, conquering stress, managing conflict, and relationships mastery
  • Discover how to use the PQ app to maintain your new mental muscles and Sage habits
  • Chart your path to keep progressing towards your audacious aspirations
  • Establish support and accountability agreements to sustain your momentum

PQ Program vs. Traditional Training

Traditional training and development tends to have short-lived impact for 3 reasons:

  • Focus on insight rather than muscle. For example, the insight that being frustrated isn’t helpful doesn’t automatically lead to you not feeling frustrated. That would require mental muscles to shift brain activation.
  • Treating symptoms rather than cause. For example, teaching you techniques of active listening to improve empathy will have temporary impact if your deeply-seated Judge Saboteur is not exposed and intercepted.
  • No common operating system. Since each training you attend uses a different framework—the 7 steps of managing conflict, the 5 secrets of managing time, etc.–the frameworks compete for mindshare and all fade away.
  • Through extensive factor analysis research, PQ has identified the 10 root-level negative factors (Saboteurs) and the 5 primary powers (Sage). This enables a common operating system.
  • All personal and professional development become applications of the PQ operating system. Whether learning to manage conflicts, manage time, or perform better under pressure, you’d apply the same exact operating system:
  • Intercept Saboteurs
  • Issue Self-Command (through 10-second PQ Reps)
  • Mobilize Sage (Empathize, Explore, Innovate, Navigate, Actvate)
  • You’d be using one simple framework for a variety of applications, boosting root-level mental fitness.
  • This dramatically simplifies personal and professional development.

Impact on Emotional Intelligence

Due to the power of factor analysis, the PQ Program boosts the root-level building blocks that automatically boost all 18 Emotional Intelligence competencies.
Triple Purpose


  • Emotional Self-Awareness
  • Accurate Self-Assessment
  • Self-Confidence
Career Planning


  • Emotional Self-Control
  • Transparency
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement
  • Initiative
  • Optimism
Emotional Intelligence

Social Awareness

  • Empathy
  • Organizational Awareness
  • Servie Orientation
Healthy Conflict

Relationship Management

  • Developing Others
  • Inspirational Leadership
  • Change Catalyst
  • Influence
  • Conflict Management
  • Teamwork & Collaboration

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this the right program for me?

This is the right program for you if you are a) committed to improving your performance and effectiveness dramatically while reducing stress, b) looking for a science-based and trusted system to make it stick, and c) willing to put in the initial effort to rewire years of mental habits that don’t serve you.

Aren't negative emotions sometimes helpful?

Some people believe that negative emotions are helpful. For example, they think stress gives them their performance edge, or beating themselves or others up is helpful for continual improvement.

Feeling pain for a split second when your hand touches a hot stove is indeed useful, delivering an important alert. But your Saboteurs keep your hand on the hot stove, continuing to feel negative emotions which harm both performance and happiness.

In this program we learn to use negative emotions as a helpful alert, and then quickly shift to the positive region of the brain that has the calm clarity, objectivity, and creativity to handle the challenge most effectively.

Who will lead the Positive Intelligence Program?

Jürgen Ruff will guide you through the program and the weekly pod meetings. The weekly video sessions are personally hosted by Shirzad Chamine. He and his team also join the exclusive online community of program participants to answer questions.

About Shirzad Chamine

Shirzad is the New York Times bestselling author of Positive Intelligence, which has been translated into 20 languages. He was CEO of the largest coach training organization in the world and has trained faculty at Stanford and Yale business schools. hirzad lectures on Positive Intelligence at Stanford University and works with Stanford’s NCAA athletes. A preeminent C-suite consultant, Shirzad has coached hundreds of CEOs and their leadership teams. He holds a BA in Psychology, an MS in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA from Stanford University and has completed graduate studies in Neuroscience.

How much time and effort is required?

You’d be committing to watching a 1-hour video once per week and doing a combined total of 15 minutes per day of practice guided by the Positive Intelligence app exclusively designed for this program.

This might sound like a lot of time. In fact, cumulatively, it constitutes less than 2% of your awake time for the duration of the program. Please consider that your Saboteurs are costing you far more than 2% of your time, effort, energy, and productivity. Consider how much more than 2% of time and productivity this six-weeks investment will save for years to come.

How is this different from reading the book?

You’d never learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book about it. You’ll be asked to read the first 8 chapters of the book while participating in the program. The book provides the research foundation and introduces the tools. The video session guides you through experiential exercises that help you personalize the tools to your own personality and needs. And the app coaches you to practice one tool at a time in the context of your own daily work and life challenges.

Should we participate as a team?

ven though the focus of the program is individual development, team leaders often call this experience the best team building experience they have ever had. Going through this program together significantly deepens trust, helps clear the air related to recurrent team member conflicts since they’re mostly generated by Saboteurs, and gives the entire team a common framework for helping each other grow, making decisions, responding to setbacks, and managing conflicting styles and agendas.

Do you have corporate/group discounts?

Yes, if you would like to purchase the Positive Intelligence program for your employees or a group of 8 or more, please contact me for more information.

Book now: Mental Fitness – The Source of Power & Happiness

Price: 990 EUR (plus VAT)

The program starts every Saturday (subject to availability) and is carried out with 1 booking. For requests for groups (more than 3 participants) and other payment methods, please contact me directly.

Payment in USD ($ 1178 plus VAT)

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