The Mindset Shift: Elevating Leadership With Positive Intelligence With Angie Alexander

The Most Important Conversations | Angie Alexander | Positive Intelligence


Do you ever wish you could approach challenges with a clear head and a positive outlook? Positive intelligence offers a framework for mental fitness, helping you silence your inner critic and unleash your leadership potential. In this insightful episode hosted by Chad Lefevre, Angie Alexander delves deep into the transformative power of positive intelligence in leadership. They discuss identifying our inner critics, using quick exercises to shift into a more positive state, and the overall benefits like better performance and healthier relationships. Leaders, hone your mindfulness! This episode unlocks practical tips to boost your impact and compassion.

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The Mindset Shift: Elevating Leadership With Positive Intelligence With Angie Alexander

Introduction To Positive Intelligence Framework

Joining us in this episode is Angie Alexander. Angie, how are you doing?

I’m great. How about you?

I am wonderful, as always. I’m so excited to get the opportunity to chat with you. What I’m excited about in terms of what we’re going to speak about is something that we talk a lot about. It comes up in various conversations that we have on these shows. You might call it emotional intelligence. We call it more broadly emotional sobriety.

However, I know that in your background and with your work, you’ve studied a lot in this area and there’s a particular stream of work that you’ve been involved with for a number of years called Positive Intelligence. I wanted to pick up there as a starting point, and then I want to explore with you a bigger conversation about what the hell is going on in the world with people’s emotional sobriety, and emotional intelligence, and the effects that it’s having on society. However, let’s start with positive intelligence. What is positive intelligence?

Positive intelligence is a framework for mental fitness and the way it’s defined within the Positive Intelligence community is that mental fitness is our ability to face the challenges of life from a more positive versus negative mindset. As I’m learning more about emotional sobriety through the work that we’re doing, there’s absolutely a connection there in terms of having that clearness of the operating system in our brain to be able to see in front of us.


The Most Important Conversations | Angie Alexander | Positive Intelligence


Also, to see the challenges that we’re facing from a place of, “How can I learn, how can I grow, and what are the opportunities here?” Within Positive Intelligence, I’m certified as a coach with Positive Intelligence. What we talk about and what we train people in is how to stay in what we call our sage size. My company is Sage Leadership. I train people and I work with people around showing up as a mentally fit leader.

We learn about it. It’s quite an interesting way of thinking about the world, but we have these negative voices in our heads. We’ve heard words like the inner critic. We call them saboteurs. The main one being the judge, which would be the inner critics. We have these voices in our heads that create all of our negative emotions.

There’s this negative chatter, and a lot of it comes from childhood and how we’ve been raised. Some of it is how we’re wired. Certainly, societal cultural norms here in North America. We have a lot of that hyper achiever-type approach to things and that’s one of our saboteurs that many people that I work with have. It’s the desire to do more and win. “You’ve got to that peak now, get to the next one,” and we never stop and celebrate. We’re never present in the moment and the journey along the way. It’s all like, “Onto the next. Where can we win the next time?”

We learn about those saboteurs in our head and we learn about how they create negative emotions, whether it’s shame, guilt, anxiety, frustration, and all of those things. We learn not only about those voices and most of us recognize them right away. You do an assessment or you get your assessment land you’re like, “I know that. That’s very familiar. I have one called The Pleaser. I have one called The Avoider. Those are always wreaking havoc with me in terms of how I approach the world.”

We learn about those. We learn how to acknowledge and accept them, and at the same time intercept them and turn them down. Also, shift into that inner essence of who we are, the sage. Our sage has the powers of empathy, curiosity, innovation, purpose, and the ability to move forward with laser-focused, calm, and laser-focused action. Those saboteurs get in our way of being able to do that.

The anxiety, the frustration, and all of those things, in my case, I tend to withdraw. That avoider will if I get stressed and get busy instead of rushing around like a maniac like some might. I go into my little hole, I curl up, and I don’t do anything. Acknowledging that and then turning it down and saying, how do I shift my brain into this positive place of all of those things like empathy, curiosity, etc? The guy who created or is the founder of Positive Intelligence is Shirzad Chamine. He found that going into your physical senses starts to rewire your brain and that’s what we want to do. We want to rewire our brains.

Is it like an embodiment?

Yeah in different ways. For a lot of us, meditation is a broad version of what he calls PQ which stands for Positive Intelligence. It’s PQ reps. It’s like going into the gym and lifting little mental fitness weights to build up your mental fitness muscles. Breathing for sure, like we do with meditation, there’s a lot of that except that it’s designed to be done 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or 2 minutes at a time. I think where meditation can be difficult for people is you need to have the right space, the right cushion to sit on, and 30 minutes of time to be able to do that.

For some people, that’s not accessible yet. They have to build up to it. It’s like, “I don’t want to wait until I can sit down and do my 30-minute meditation to work through whatever’s going on for me. I want to be able to, at the moment, make that micro shift out of the negative emotions into the positive ones.” Breathing is a big one.

I’ll be on a Zoom call with some of my clients and all I have to do is do a couple of deep breaths and that’ll bring them back into their sage but it could be feeling the weight of your body in your seat. It could be taking in something visual like as I’m looking at you, I could be looking at the print behind you on the wall and taking in the shape, the colors, and all of those things to bring myself into my body.

For me, it could be, that I like to feel my feet on the floor. With my feet down, I’ll feel my toes. I make sure I can feel each of my toes. All of that is bringing me into my body and under fMRI machines, we can see that the brain lights up differently in the 10 seconds that we go into that. The mental fitness training, we learn about all of those things.

We build each of those what we consider a core muscle. The first one is identifying and intercepting your saboteurs. The second one is the ability to do those reps to shift out of the hijack state and into a sage state. The third muscle is building all those powers that we have access to as a sage person. How can I use my empathy? How can I use my curiosity or my creativity?

The Intention Of The Program

What’s the one final question about it by way of background? What’s the intention of the program? In other words, what is the outcome that the creator is trying to produce in the world?

His mission is about helping everyone in the world be more mentally fit so they can reach their true potential. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but 80% of people don’t meet their true potential because they’re hijacked by their saboteurs. That’s the broad vision that he brings his mission to the world. The impact that improved mental fitness helps you in three areas. One is in performance. You’re more present in whatever it is that you’re doing.

Whether it’s your work performance. I have clients who have better golf and tennis games, all of those things. You’re clearer-headed. You have less chatter going on in your head so you can perform better, you’re more efficient, and all of those things. Your productivity improves at work and healthier relationships. Whether that’s at home or at work with your spouse, with your kids, with your boss, or with your coworkers, you are not what you can imagine.


If you’re clear-headed and you have less chatter going on in your head, you can perform better. You’re more efficient, productivity improves at work, and you have healthier relationships.


You can picture, that if we’re all hijacked and our saboteurs are leading the conversation, that’s the interaction we’re having versus when we’re dialed back down into our sage strength, we’re going to show up in a clearer way. We’re more present to each other. We can have healthier conflicts. We build trust more easily. All of those things happen.

From a team performance, that goes up because of the improved relationships. The final area is overall health and well-being. You’re more present, you’re sleeping better, your stress goes down, and you’re less anxious overall. All of those things go together to make us better humans overall and more emotionally sober.

Challenges And Solutions In Leadership

What I find so interesting about this, and it dovetails nicely into the work that we’re doing with TMIC’s Whole Life Architecture work is that the world is in a very particular state right now that I think all of us are more than others trying to wrestle with how do we get here? What is here? What is the state that we find ourselves in and where do we go from here? How do we deal with this?

There’s a lot of stress and anxiety. There’s a lot of dis-ease and issues around wellness. Also, the mental health stuff that’s going on right now. This is all from my perspective evidence that the systems and structures in which we as human beings are supposed to be living and thriving are fundamentally broken. It’s because as human beings, we’re very environmentally conditioned and triggered.

Our environments play a huge role in our experience of ourselves and how we experience others. The environment isn’t always the obvious stuff of the office or where you live but the environment also deals with your interpersonal relationships and how you get along or don’t get along with people. An environment also deals with your own physical body and the way that you relate to yourself.

It’s all part of a feedback system or a feedback loop that gives you cues and evidence as a human being about where you are in the path of living out your life. You’re either aligned or unaligned. You’re either on point or not. From what I understand, you work a lot with companies, and companies will bring you in to work with their leadership teams.

I’m going to assume that the companies are interested in this because they want to have their leaders optimize at the highest level of performance possible because maybe or maybe not they see a direct link to their bottom line in terms of profitability and performance. Maybe they don’t. Maybe some companies just feel like, “They’re doing it over there, so we ought to do it.

Everyone seems to be doing this so let’s have a program.” It’s just ticking a box. What’s the case? Is it a little bit of everything? Are companies starting to clue into the fact that they need to address the fact that if a human is not thriving, it’s not about just performing at their best level? That’s what the company would care about but companies are also members of community as a way to look at it. I think there’s an obligation beyond just the performance of that one company and more to be a positive contributing corporate citizen, so to speak.

We want to have a healthy community and we want to be a contributing factor in that but I don’t know. I’m asking you some rhetorical questions. You can chime in on any of these. It’s a smorgasbord. It’s a little bit of a cheese plate or something like that of questions but I had this experience, and I won’t name the company. It was a Fortune 100 company years ago when we were doing leadership development and we were doing it with video games. We were building video games to develop leaders.

This one company I had a very interesting exchange with. They were super interested in what we were doing. Also, they had found out we were working with companies like Coke and other large companies like that. When it got down to writing the check, it was like, “We’ve got our corporate retreat and we don’t want to dip into that budget.” I’m thinking, “Just increase your budget if you want to have an outcome,” but that’s just, “No, we can’t do that.”

That wasn’t just that one company. It’s the one that stood out though because I had the most lengthy conversation with their people. At that time, I drew the conclusion that for a lot of these companies, it’s just lip service. I want to state that because it shouldn’t be lip service. I think for a lot of these companies, it’s box-checking. It’s, “We have that program too.”

However, are they getting that if you have human beings that are not thriving and optimized to their highest potential, that it is going to not only have the obvious effect of detracting from the profitability and the performance of the company? More importantly, who wants to live in a crappy community where everyone is depressed and mentally ill and suffering from other kinds of illness and stressed and dealing with anxiety?

We’ve got to address this and I agree that companies are the place to start so I’m happy to hear that it’s where you’re starting. However, as someone on the ground in the trenches there, I haven’t been for years on that level in terms of the leadership dynamic conversations inside of companies. Are they starting to wake up and get it? There’s the long end to my rambling series of questions.

I would like to think that eventually, we’ll get there. My mission is to bring different styles of leadership, sage leadership, in my case, to change how we lead particularly in this industry, this province. Also, it’s not an easy path because it’s so ingrained, this command and control corporate, especially oil and gas. With myself, I’m like, “I want to make this. I want to change the world,” and then you try for a while and it can be pretty demoralizing because it’s exactly what you described. “Yeah. That sounds great,” and then when you get to the bottom line, “We don’t have time,” or, “We don’t have the budget in our training budget,” and all of those things.

What I’m seeing is I had a realization that I don’t have to change everybody all at once. I just need a few enlightened folks who see that there’s value in doing this work. Speaking to the bottom line is helpful, but it’s more than that. That’s not going to make it all the way through. I’ve had some success recently. I have a leader who came to me. We talked about the program. We talked about the impact it had on me personally.

At that time, they were just coming out of the pandemic. They were bringing everybody back to the office a couple of days a week and he was seeing how his team was struggling. They were struggling essentially with their mental health. They were struggling to come back to work. There’s a lot going on. Initially, he said, “I want to give this gift to my team from a mental health perspective. I think this will help them.”

We did it with that initially. He gave it as a gift to them for that and then we continued on after that because they were starting to see the impacts of what it means to have different conversations around our leadership table. All the folks that he worked with were all leaders themselves. They were seeing the impact it was having on how they interacted with each other and how they were interacting with their direct reports.

Even probably more importantly, the impact it was having at home. They were having different conversations with their families at home. I was getting, “I’m connecting with my teenage daughter in a way I’ve never done before,” and all of those kinds of things. I was starting to see this leader in particular. I asked him, “What do you want to keep doing this? Why would you recommend this to others, either in the company or in your organization?”

He said, “Who doesn’t want to be a sage leader?” When you say that, when you say sage leader, he’s like, “I want to be a sage leader.” “What does that mean? You tell me more about what that means to you.” He talked about showing up in a way that you’re leading from a place of people first, his own. The terminology I have now is emotional sobriety. I can see that it’s what he’s working towards for himself as a leader. He shows up much more tempered in how his emotions show up at work.

It’s a shift that can happen in some places. He says his most senior leaders could use this work, and they’re not ready to even have the conversation with me, which is fine. We’ll keep going on that. There are a few places that they’re starting to see the value of the team building because a lot of times too, it’s the teams themselves saying, “What is this? I don’t want to do this. What do you mean I have to talk about my feelings?”

They don’t want to talk about their feelings that work and then they do it in a safe place created by a coach facilitator who can create that. They then start to realize how impactful that is. Now, they’re all humans at work. They understand each other better and they get more work out of each other because they’re not being so rigid and nasty with each other.

I think that’s one of the things that has always astounded me when I’ve worked with different companies. First of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Just because you have the title leader doesn’t mean you are one. Let’s start with that. There are all these people who are like, “I’m a leader. I’m a manager. I’m an executive. I’m a this. I’m a whatever.”

If you have not optimized yourself as a human being, you’re not a leader. You may carry the title, you may have a business card, and you may have the sign on your door, but you’re probably a teenager in terms of your emotional state and you’re a walking reaction to everything in life. Also, you’re hiding behind this leader. I just want to call it out because the things that we’re interested in doing with TMIC are developing and working with real people who are committed to being leaders.

That means being fully and wholly responsible for how they show up in the world, which means 100% accountability for your emotional state. That means managing your emotional state and that doesn’t mean repressing it, but it means managing it, feeling it, feeling your emotions, being able to be a response to life, and not a walking reaction. Also, recognizing this. If you are a so-called leader in a company, what are companies made up of?

It’s human beings and people. They’re not just numbers and positions. It’s a total shift in culture that needs to occur. By the way, it’s not just in the work world. We can all be leaders in our lives, and we should be leaders in our lives but if you’re going to be a leader, the first person you have to lead is yourself. Before you lead anyone else, lead yourself.

I think that that’s where the work is to lean in for people. It’s one thing to help people manage their emotions. I think emotional intelligence work is super important because it gives us an access point to something but I think what’s even more important is to get to the source of why are you doing this in the first place? I want to shift to a little bit of a conversation about the trajectory of the world right now. If we look at where we’re going, we’ve been talking about companies.

However, whether it’s companies, governments, schools, universities, or whatever the institution is that we as human beings are finding ourselves in, at the end of the day, when you strip all of that away, we’re just people and we’ve organized our society in such a way that at the moment people are not thriving. They’re exhausted. I’ve been saying for a long time now, we have a mental health crisis coming. It’s already here, but the wave hasn’t even peaked yet. The crisis is coming and we are not simply not prepared for it.

One example is artificial intelligence. A conversation I was having with a gentleman who used to be, formally, he was very senior inside of Google in the machine learning division. One of the conversations that we were having was speculating that as money as 40% of the jobs that currently exist will either be fundamentally transformed or won’t exist at all by 2030. Can you imagine 40% unemployment? By the way, the types of jobs that are going to be more affected by the rise of AI and its effectiveness are white-collar jobs. Things like lawyers, accountants, engineering architects, and this sort of thing because AI is going to be able to do it all.

A lot of these leaders in companies especially if they are what we would call white collar business corporations and companies, may not have a job in 8 to 10 years or their job will look so different we won’t need as many of them. We’ve got to get a grip on this and start looking at who are we as human beings and what matters to us. How do we thrive? What kind of society do we want to co-create? It’s because it’s up to us to co-create it and come together to do this.

I think that if we started to have these conversations with leaders in these companies from this standpoint, like, “Let’s get real about what we’re facing as a society right now, and what are you going to do about it?” If someone says, “What do you mean? What am I going to do about it?” We all have a role to play in what we’re going to do about it. Be the change you want to see in the world,” said a wise man at one point in time.

Those aren’t just nice words to have on a meme on social media. Sometimes I look at the trajectory of where we’re headed in the world and I see a lot of work, but I also see a lot of possibility and opportunity. For me, I feel like we’re in the right place at the right time. Do you know how needed people like the skills that you have, what we’re talking about, and what we’re doing with Whole Life Architecture? How much this is going to be needed in the next few years?

I’m reminded of these sinkholes that happen on highways. We’re going to have metaphorical sinkholes happening all around our society, and we’re going to be like, “Where did this come from?” COVID was a warning. That’s the way I look at it. COVID was a warning to us of what happened and it shows how on the edge we are in terms of the slightest disruption to the way we’ve organized ourselves as a society.

Also, the mass disruption that it causes in people’s lives and the way that they’re incapable of handling it. Jay Leno said it best. He said Americans are more predisposed than any other country in the world to successfully win the war against COVID because all they have to do is sit at home and watch Netflix and we couldn’t do it.

I heard introverts were the ones who were best suited to deal with COVID. They’ve been training for it their whole lives by being isolated from other people. There is so much there, Chad. I don’t even know where to start. It is interesting. If I think about it through the lens of positive intelligence, that’s what I think through these days.

Also, because in general, most of us are currently leading from our hijacked saboteur state like the unsober state of being. That’s what we’re leading from. That’s what’s creating so much of the divisiveness and the fear that’s leading all the conversations that we’re having. If we go in and we lead with all that stuff that you just said about 40% of the jobs are going away, and a lot of them are going to be white collar and all of that, what I see right now is a fear response to that.


The Most Important Conversations | Angie Alexander | Positive Intelligence


Everyone’s going to respond from a place of fear, which is saboteur-driven. Helping them learn to recognize that for what it is, the fear response and we are wired to respond with fear, to protect ourselves, and all those things that you talk about. How can we recognize that and practice building up, and rewiring the neural pathways, reestablishing that ability to respond from a place of sage and emotional sobriety rather than fear? Also, being curious, innovative, and creative in how we face things and not get so firmly planted in, “I’m an engineer and this is what I do,” or, “I’m a lawyer and this is what I do.” It’s, “I have a skillset.”

I’ve had to make this transition. I was given a choice to transition away from that engineering technical world into something else and use all the skills that I learned as an engineer. All of those skills that I learned being in a corporate environment for twenty-plus years and use that in a way to understand my own saboteurs and understand how that was impacting me and continue to do the work to build up. My mental fitness is what physical fitness is to my mental health.

If I continue to work on that, I can face all of the stuff that’s coming at us. I might have a fear response at first and then go, “It’s going to be okay. Let’s work through it. I have skills. I have a few techniques. I can go to my mental fitness gym and get myself ready to deal with whatever’s coming at me.” I noticed it daily how I respond differently. I’m much more comfortable with discomfort than I used to be.

Things change, “scary” things in front of me that feel uncomfortable, and recognize that discomfort and fear are not the same thing. Also, it’s still safe and I’m just a little uncomfortable. The more people we can get thinking and working that way, I believe it’s contagious. I believe I’ve seen it in my own household. My family hasn’t officially done this work with me, but they’ve done it because I live it every day and they can’t help but soak it up.

They are getting it from osmosis from you.

Yeah. Exactly.

It’s leaking into the space. That’s interesting what you said about you don’t have to impact or help everyone change all at once. You can start working with a few people and then those people can become seeds or ambassadors that start to spread that way of doing it. It reminds me, incidentally and I know this sounds awful, but I have zero attachment to the political correctness of things and I’m more interested in the underlying truth.

It’s no different than terrorist organizations. They seed different pockets and regions with an idea and the idea is the only thing that ever existed. What we want to do is we want to help people understand that there’s another idea for how you can live life. There’s another idea for how you can operate a company, and you can do it from a place of total alignment with the authentic self and from a place of total power.

It’s because when you’re connected to your authentic self, you are most powerful. When I think about this, I think about the empowerment of people to be able to know themselves. Socrates said that the most important thing for any of us is to know thyself in this lifetime. The more that you get to know yourself, including the foibles, the different emotional states that we all have, and being able to feel them and process them.

I love the embodiment work. You were talking about that. I think it’s so important. We’ve seen the rise of things like yoga and meditation. What I’m encouraged by is when I look at Gen Z, they’re starting to pull away from the social media addiction that Millennials had it bad, but Gen Z doesn’t have it as bad.

My daughter always says, “We need to go out and touch grass more.” She’ll say stuff like that and just get out into nature. It’s embodiment. It’s feeling. It’s tactile. It’s something that connects you, especially in a world of screens and in virtual-mediated conversation. Not that it doesn’t have a place for it. We’re doing it right now, but to rely on it entirely, which I think COVID didn’t help that because people relied on that too much. They had to. It was either that or nothing.

Now, it’s time to get embodied. It’s time to start to connect to yourself and to others in a more meaningful way. It can only positively impact companies, organizations, and communities. It’s not going to detract. I always get concerned that as human beings, if we can’t draw a straight line from, “How does this make me money,” it somehow gets pushed to the background.

I think the challenge is that, especially the bigger the company, the bigger the budget that they’re dealing with. The shareholders and all the stakeholders that they have to answer to get in the way even if there’s undoubtedly a part of them, a seed of them that says, “Yeah, there’s something not right here.” There’s more than likely a misalignment.

If you get a chance to talk to some of the most senior leaders and talk to them, they’re not happy. They’re stressed and burned out. Their relationships are in the toilet. It’s not good but they don’t know how to break out of that cycle. To your point, a couple of things for me. One is it starts with yourself. Whenever leaders come to me, and if they start talking about their team, I usually try and bring it back to, “Let’s start with you,” because you are setting the tone and the culture of your team. Your emotions and saboteurs are the ones that are leading that.

There’s that piece of it and especially in this city right now, in this industry, it’s going to take courage to step up and lead differently. It’s going to take a few and eventually, it’ll start to show and it will show as bottom line performance. There’s data out there that supports all of that. For some reason, we like to think we’re different here.

It’s like, “That all applies to Google or all these other companies and it doesn’t apply to us.” It’s like, “People who are engaged, who feel supported, who have a psychologically safe place to work, all of these things, why wouldn’t it work here? What’s different,” but that’s part of the hurdle that we need to get over is we’re different than whoever.

That’s just an excuse to do nothing at the end of the day.

It’s because it makes them uncomfortable and it’s scary.

Acknowledging Discomfort

I’m a big advocate for helping people get used to discomfort and I treat it as a game now. This is a little trick for those of you who are reading. If you want to start to create a sense of power in your life, start to play the game of being uncomfortable as often as possible. Put yourself in circumstances and situations where your first impulse is to say, “No, I can’t,” or, “I shouldn’t do that,” or, “I shouldn’t say that,” or whatever. Start to nudge yourself.


The Most Important Conversations | Angie Alexander | Positive Intelligence


You don’t have to do anything too drastic, not initially. You might eventually. Maybe you’ll be doing crazy stuff at some point that you never thought possible. Here’s a metaphor to think about. I’ve always said that people don’t like to travel because of the travel. You go somewhere new and everyone always has the same experience. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world. If it’s new, they come back, “It’s so amazing. We did this. We learned this. We saw that we tried this food.”

This is a new experience and there’s an aliveness that happens when people travel for those that do, and everyone should incidentally, but it’s not where you went that created the aliveness. What creates the aliveness is that all of your habituated conditioning was completely useless while you were on your trip. It’s because you’d never been there before so you couldn’t predict how to get there, how long it would take, what you were going to do, when you were going to get there, who you were going to see, and what you were going to eat.

Some people plan to that level of detail, but even if you plan to that level of detail, there’s still going to be stuff you couldn’t predict that happened and you’re still going to access that aliveness feeling. What people experience when they travel to new places? If you travel to the same place over and over again, eventually it becomes conditioned, habituated, and predictable. Therefore, you’re operating on autopilot again.

The thing that makes you feel alive is not the trip and it’s not where you went. The thing that makes you feel alive is your own presence. Your mind has to move from subconscious habituated conditioning to conscious creativity. You have to be creative in order to figure out what you’re going to do from moment to moment, how you’re going to do it, how long it’s going to take, the actions you’re going to take, and all of this stuff. That makes us feel alive. Coming back to what I was saying about trying new things or nudging new things, you don’t have to go on a big trip to have that same experience.

If you treat this as a game and take on in life the game of trying new things that make you uncomfortable and play that game, you’ll start to have that same experience of aliveness and your own presence that’ll make your life feel so much richer. On top of that, you’ll meet new people, and have new experiences, and the whole breadth of your life will expand. That’s a little thing now.

It takes emotional sobriety. It takes your ability to manage the fear, manage the discomfort, and manage the anxiety that’s coming up. These are all things that we talk about in our Whole Life Architecture work but this is just a little thing that anyone reading can do. I intentionally get myself lost. I’ll go to a city. I know LA like the back of my hand. I’ve been going there. I’ve been there hundreds and hundreds of times. I lived there for a period of time so I don’t need the maps, the GPS, and all that for my well-worn path but there are still places I’ve never been to in that city.

I will intentionally, when I go there, try to get myself lost and go down some roads. I have no idea where they’re taking me. It becomes this adventure and you could do that in any city. I just use LA as an example because it’s a city I know very well. Anyone in any city could take a different route home. You could intentionally go for a drive. Get out of the grooves of your life. Talk to that person in the coffee line that’s in front of you while you’re standing there. You have 5 or 10 minutes. It’s the morning on the way to work. On the coffee line, strike up a conversation.

Feel the exhilaration of, “Who is this person and what might they say?” I’m putting myself out there. There are little things that we can do to start chipping away at staying in our own bubbles and being alone, isolated, and stuck in our own chattery mind that’s keeping us small. That will nudge you to a place where it’ll open things for you, and then you’ll be able to take more risk and discomfort. Your threshold for discomfort will continue to expand.

I tell people all the time, “Just go 10% outside your comfort zone.” My comfort zone might be here, yours might be here so whatever that is, I’m going to take that little step outside it, and to your point, you’ll learn that it’s okay. You’re still safe. You’re still okay. You probably learned something and it wasn’t that cool. You can take the next step and the next step. It is scary to be uncomfortable and it does take some training of your brain to say, “This is where I’m learning. I’m not learning anything if I’m not uncomfortable.”

I do the same thing over and over again. “If I’m not learning anything new, I’m not changing.” I ski raced when I was a kid, and my coach would say, “How did that feel?” I’m like, “It felt good.” He is like, “You haven’t changed anything. It felt exactly like the last run.” Until it feels uncomfortable, you’re not changing anything. It has to feel uncomfortable or it’s not different.

Yeah. I read this quote somewhere. “If it feels good, you’re not growing.”

That’s exactly right. We have to train ourselves to make that discomfort feel good. Some days it’s hard. It’s probably why I crashed. I was like, “It’s too much discomfort. You need to rest.”

I’ve got this little box and I’m going to start to do this with all of our interviews. I’m going to randomly pull out a card. It’s a box of know-yourself cards. I randomly pick this out and I’m going to do this with all of our guests. It’s a little fun thing here. It’s a little discomfort. I didn’t even know what the card was going to be but this is for you. Someone has annoyed you. What do you say? You have two options. “You are so annoying when,” or, “You make me feel annoyed when.”

I would say, “You make me feel annoyed when,” and I might not even say it quite like that.

You might have your own version. On the back, it says, “Psychologists love the second way of putting it.” I’m not surprised you chose that way since you’re dealing with your positive intelligence work. They tell us that it’s at the heart of good communication. Describing the impact others have on you, rather than declaring them to be this or that in absolute terms means that people around us get less defensive.

Yes. That was the word that came to mind.

I’m just pausing here because sometimes I like to poke and make them a little defensive because then I can go, “It’s under there.” They’re more likely to listen. Self-knowledge means recognizing what belongs to you and what belongs to others. There’s your know-yourself card for the day.

Thank you. That was fun.

They have to agree to the context, obviously, but when people agree to go all out and explore the development of the self like when their Whole Life Architecture work or something, it’s gloves off. I love to poke under. What’s the discomfort? What’s under there? It’s because there’s nothing but growth that can come out of it. Nothing but good stuff can come out of it at the end of the day.

I believe that too. For me, it’s making sure that you’ve created a safe place for people to be able to do that. Gloves off. You’re safe here and it’s going to be uncomfortable, but you’re still safe. I think that you create that. I feel that and it’s important to do that for folks.


It’s making sure that you’ve created a safe place for people to be able to do that, gloves off. You’re safe here, and it’s going to be uncomfortable, but you’re still safe.


Yeah, it is. You have to do that. Otherwise, they won’t do it.

They won’t or it could be more damaging and put them further into themselves then.

I think it was Gabor Maté who’s who said, and for those of you we’re going to have him on this show as well, but the vast majority of us in the world are dealing with various levels, but everyone’s got some kind of trauma going on.

Yes. It’s Big T and little t. We’ve all got it.

It doesn’t matter how great your parents were. As parents, you are damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. You think you’re showing the right way, and then your kid’s like, “I’m going to be me, so I’m going to rebel against everything you just taught me.” It’s like, “What?”

I talk about that a lot with clients around parenting and the fact that, again, no matter how good your childhood was, we all have these saboteurs and a lot of them came from childhood. They were there to protect us from all the things that happen in childhood. Again, even with a very positive upbringing, there are scary things that happen. I joke that no matter how much work I do, my kids are going to go talk to their therapist about me and about how they were brought up. That’s just how it is.


No matter how good your childhood was, we all have these saboteurs.


I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about that. I’m going to let that sage side of me know that I’m doing the best I can. I’m human. I’m perfectly imperfect. I’m just going to show up the best I can for them, as sage as I can, have empathy for myself in the process, and hold space for them as they stumble through it as well.


I think that’s a great way to wrap up this episode. Angie, thank you so much for spending the time, sharing with us positive intelligence, exploring where we are in the world, and where we want to go in terms of how to help people integrate more deeply with themselves, get more embodied, feel their emotions, but manage their emotions. Also, there is hope that we’ll be able to turn the trajectory of our society around so more and more people lean into this type of work.

Thank you for the work that you do, and thank you so much for joining us on this episode. For those of you reading, if you want to learn more about what we’re doing at The Most Important Conversations, go to for information about the Whole Life Architecture, DesignLab, and any of the other things that you’ll hear us talking about on this show. Until then, we’ll see you next time.


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About Angie Alexander

The Most Important Conversations | Angie Alexander | Positive IntelligenceAngie is a Professional Engineer, Leadership & Team Effectiveness Consultant, Speaker and a Certified Mental Fitness Coach. After over 20 years in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, she realized that her technical background combined with her people-oriented approach to working with leaders and their teams was her superpower! She loves nothing more than to support, encourage, lift up and help people be their best professional selves!

She is an empathetic coach and facilitator who loves to support technical professionals, leaders and teams work better together. She has skills in leadership development, mental fitness coaching, organizational effectiveness, facilitation, process design & improvement, change management and project management. She possesses a passion for bringing teams together to work more effectively, make better decisions, be more innovative and think more strategically.

She is sought out to unlock the power of multi-discipline teams to unravel and solve complex technical & business problems. She has led a multi-discipline team at a major oil and gas company to create, document and implement a process for Execution Planning, Development Planning and Appraisal Planning. She is sought out by leaders at all levels to act as a sounding board for their team organizational designs, issue resolution and ongoing strategy conversations.

She has successfully facilitated and guided newly formed teams through their strategic vision development and key behavior conversations. She is viewed as a leader on asset teams for play development, approval meetings and updates to senior management. Angie lives, works and plays on the traditional territories of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. Moh’kins’tsis is the traditional Blackfoot name of the place we now call Calgary.


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