Positive Intelligence: Much more than just a tool for individual growth

In my last post, I talked about physician burnout and how we can mitigate its effects by using some of the tools of Positive Intelligence, namely, embracing greater empathy for ourselves and others. I have had some “push back”, even from friends, who feel that the strategies of Positive Intelligence and Mental Fitness that I propose minimize the “moral injury” inflicted upon physicians by “the system” and places the focus, blame, and onus upon individuals to”fix” themselves. However, Positive Intelligence and Mental fitness, are much more than that. Integrating positive Intelligence into our lives creates a pathway for us to empower ourselves so that we are better prepared to address the system issues and work with others in creating effective change. 

There is absolutely no doubt that the entire medical system in this country needs revamping. It is no secret to any of us how incredibly draining the current milieu can be. Most of us got into medicine with the desire to help others- to offer solutions, healing, and comfort. However, we are regularly met by obstacles created by “the system” when trying to do this for our patients. Over the years this chips away at our souls making us feel trapped and unable to truly make a difference in people’s lives. Needless to say, when faced with this issue on a large scale, like when many physicians were not able to provide the care that they would have ideally given in the earlier stages of the pandemic, the emotional effects are exacerbated, and moral injury is experienced more acutely. However, by placing the blame out there on “the system”, we give away our power. The belief becomes that “the system” needs to be magically fixed and that we have no role in that. At the end of the day, we need to remember that “the system” is in reality just a group of people that have created certain rules and regulations for how they believe things should run. Although we do not have any control over other people or, in fact, much else in life, we do have control over ourselves, our perceptions, our reactions, and our interactions. And, there is power in these reactions and interactions. It is through the relationships we create that we affect others and change the world.

The Positive Intelligence framework is an operating system that provides us with the tools to transform ourselves into a new way of being. It provides us with a new language and a new culture that permeates all aspects of our lives. In this way it goes far beyond being a tool to simply “fix” ourselves. As we integrate positive intelligence into our being, the way we are, we perceive, we communicate, we react, and we interact are all affected; and, by default, so are those we touch.

Imagine a world where everyone, or at least a good number of us, have integrated Positive Intelligence into our lives to the point that it has become the way we live- who we are. It is a world in which we can easily communicate and mitigate conflict with others- even with “the others” who comprise “the system”. In this world we have the capability of maintaining a curious mindset, of holding ourselves and others in a space of empathy, of catching ourselves when our saboteurs have been triggered by another’s comments or actions and realigning ourselves with our deepest values in order to navigate our decisions from this place. It is true that in this scenario we will be stronger individuals with enhanced resilience and protection against burnout. However, the ripple effects within our careers, our families, and in our society as a whole will be immeasurable. This is, in fact, the only way we can effectively change “the system”.

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