To understand Positive Intelligence and how Mental Fitness works, please read my first six blogs. This will help you understand how to become mentally fit. Just like someone who lifts weights, becoming mentally fit takes consistent and deliberate practice. Being physically fit is an analogy to being mentally fit.

In the past two months I have discussed the Universal or Master Judge and four of his nine accomplices: the Controller, Avoider, Hyper-Achiever and Pleaser Saboteurs. In this blog I will cover the Stickler and the Hyper-Vigilant Saboteurs.

It is important to remember that everyone has the Judge as well as the nine Saboteurs. Some Saboteurs are stronger and more prevalent in each of us. Not everyone has all the many characteristics of each of the Saboteurs. You may only have a couple of them.

What is a Stickler Saboteur?

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

Strengths of People with the Stickler

  • Noble ideals and standards. Principled.
  • Able to bring organization and order into ambiguity and chaos.
  • Capable of leading self and others to live and work based on clear guiding principles-to be a “good” person and do the “right” thing.
  • Self-disciplined.
  • Direct and discerning. Seeing and communicating things as they are.


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


  • Right is right and wrong is wrong. I know the right way.
  • If you cannot do it perfectly do not do it at all.
  • 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 (like an adult instructing a kid).
  • 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’ assorted 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.

The Stickler says, “Right is right and wrong is wrong!” If you cannot do something perfectly then do not do it at all.

One example of how Stickler caused my client challenges:  This Saboteur was causing her a lot of heartache as a leader of a nonprofit organization. No matter what the task, she felt it always had to be perfect. Consequently, she would spend too much time getting something perfect that was of minimal impact or importance. As an example, she felt every email response had to be perfect, no matter what the topic. Consequently, half the morning would be taken up just responding to emails. She was also overly organized to a fault, every pencil and document had to be in place on her desk before she began any project. Each day she found she spent too much time organizing that she ran out of time to take care of the high impact concerns or tasks such as writing a grant, working on the budget, or meeting with her managers. She also expected this same kind of performance from her staff. Everything they did had to be perfect, and they also had to be well organized. This leader was frustrated and disappointed with herself and others for not living up to her standards. Can you imagine what kind of problems this caused in the organization? Would you want to work for someone who exhibited these kinds of behaviors?

What was the Justification lie she was telling herself? There is a right way to respond to emails and I must do whatever it takes to make them perfect before clicking send. Doing everything perfectly will make me a good leader. I need my staff to be perfect so the organization will be successful.

She must release her negative thoughts of the Stickler by shifting her brain to Sage and use her stickler strengths to see the gifts and opportunities that are waiting for her!

How strong is the Stickler in you? What is the biggest impact? How would this Saboteur interfere with your aspiration to be a successful leader?

What is the Hyper-Vigilant Saboteur?

Continuous intense anxiety about all the dangers and what could go wrong.

Vigilance that can never rest.

Strengths of People with the Hyper-Vigilant

  • Vigilant.
  • Sensitive and aware of true risks and dangers to self, others, and institutions.
  • Guardians of families, communities, and institutions.
  • Loyal, dependable, dependable, and hardworking.
  • Capable of perseverance and consistent work towards objectives.
  • Capable of instituting and preserving systems and structures to impose order and stability.


  • 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, safety, 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 do not 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 wonderful use.
  • Loses credibility due to the “crying wolf” phenomenon.
  • Others begin to avoid the Hyper-Vigilant as the intensity of that energy drains them.

Expose the lies:

  • Safety and security cannot be found by controlling external circumstances. It is only found within.
  • Constantly anxious HYPER-Vigilance protects you and your loved ones against dangers LESS than peaceful, calm, clear-headed Sage Vigilance.

The Hyper-Vigilant says “I am always filled with anxiety and doubts about my ability to do the job and fearful that my staff will realize my lack of confidence.

One example of how Hyper-Vigilant caused my client challenges:  As an executive director of a nonprofit organization, she often worried incessantly after turning in a grant, that it was not good enough and the grantors would not fund her organization. This concern was in the back of her mind for months until she received the grant results. She was constantly worried about her relationship with her board members, specifically with the board president. She found she frequently asked her for reassurance on whether her board report or board agenda report was ok. She found herself thinking her board did not like her and if she messed up, they would immediately fire her. She always found herself thinking that her board were not being honest, and their motives were something more nefarious.

What was the Justification lie she was telling herself?

That everyone is out to get me, and I doubt my own abilities. I anticipate that someone will criticize me at any moment. I have fears that others are waiting for me to fail.

She must release her negative thoughts of the Hyper-Vigilant by shifting her brain to Sage and use her Hyper-Vigilant strengths to see the gifts and opportunities that are waiting for her!

How strong is the Hyper-Vigilant in you? What is the biggest impact? How would this Saboteur interfere with your aspiration to be a successful leader?

Next month I will identify and discuss the Victim and Restless Saboteurs. Do you like what you see? Want to learn more? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below!


“Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine or visit their website at