The Judge is our universal saboteur shared by everyone, regardless of the circumstances of our upbringing.  The Judge causes most of our disappointment, anger, regret, guilt, shame and anxiety. He is the main dude who I have named the “Strangler”.  My strangler badgers me for past mistakes or current shortcomings.  She also focuses on what is wrong with everyone else or she insists a circumstance or outcome is ”bad”. The Judge activates one of the nine Saboteurs.

An example when my Judge, the “Strangler” hijacked me. I got upset that my friend didn’t know how to cook a decent meal. She would always volunteer to cook for our group of friends. She struggled with cooking and just could not seem to read a recipe correctly! This challenge never seemed to bother her. This seemed so simple, and I would get so frustrated with her that I could hardly control myself not to say something mean.

The Judge

The origin of the Saboteurs:

  • We are born with our greatest natural strengths.
  • It’s normal to overuse and abuse our greatest strengths.
  • It’s what comes to us most easily.
  • Having Saboteurs is not an indication of wounding that requires healing.
  • Because of our prewiring of our postive emotions (Sage brain) we are also prewired with our negative emotions (Saboteur brain).

The Saboteurs are equally ugly and are equal opportunity destroyers. The Saboteur turns your greatest strength into your greatest weakness by abusing or over using it.  Saboteurs motivate you through negative emotions.  It is about the lie the Saboteurs tell you.  They create the opposite of what they have promised you. Your Saboteur is never your friend and never your best option. They might generate success but not happiness. These negative emotions hurt our ability to see clarity and respond with positive emotions.  The Saboteurs get you a win for the little things but you lose the war.

What are the Avoider and Controller Saboteurs?

The Avoider Saboteur

The Strengths of the Avoider: 

  • Seek peace and harmony.
  • Easy going, and, have an even keeled temperament.
  • Flexible and adaptable.
  • Tend to be positive and nonjudgmental.

Characteristics of the Avoiders:

  • Avoid conflict and say yes to things one would not want.
  • Downplays importance of real problems and tries to deflect others.
  • Has difficulty saying no. Resists others through passive aggressive means rather than directly.
  • Procrastinates on unpleasant tasks.


  • This is just too unpleasant. It will take care of itself.
  • If I deal with this now, I will hurt her feelings.


  • Even keel.
  • Anxiety about what has been avoided or procrastinated (shame & guilt).
  • Fear about hard-won peace of mind being interrupted.
  • Suppresses anger and resentment rather than express their anger.

Impact on Self and Others:

  • Denying the conflicts.

Justification Lie They Tell Themselves:

  • 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.


Example of how my Avoider has caused me challenges:

As an Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, I am faced with constant challenges and deadlines. Writing grants is an important part of my job and a task that I am good at, but they take a lot of time and organization. I had a large grant due in two weeks which was critical for our budget. I procrastinated working on it for the past month. It is now due in two weeks. My anxiety was growing, and I began to feel guilty, shameful, and angry with myself for avoiding this task. I began to worry about being fired. Now the pressure was on, and I felt almost frozen with how to start to put this grant together.

I also had said yes to a board member about participating in a speaking engagement with the local City Council which was scheduled for the same day the grant was due. What was I thinking, yikes!!!   I should have told my board member no, but I did not want to disappoint her and knew this was an important presentation and would take me considerable time to prepare.

What was the Justification lie I was telling myself? I am a lazy mediocre leader and no good would come from upsetting my board member!

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

The Controller Saboteur

 Anxiety based need to take charge and control situations and peoples actions.

The Strengths of the Controller Saboteur

  • Confident, action oriented, decisive, willful persistent.
  • Challenging self and others.
  • Able to do the right thing, even if unpopular.
  • See possibilities and activities self and others towards outcome.


  • 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 talkers.
  • Push people beyond comfort zone
  • Comes alive when doing the impossible and beating the odds.
  • Stimulated by and connected through conflict. Surprised that others got hurt.
  • Intimidate others. In-your-face communication interpreted by others as anger or criticism.


  • You are either in control or out of control.
  • I work hard enough. I can and should control the situation, so it goes my way.
  • Others want and need me to take control. I am 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 do not follow.
  • Impatient with others’ feelings and unique styles.
  • Does feel hurt and rejected, although rarely admits it.

Justification Lies:

  • Without the Controller, you cannot get much done.
  • You need to push people.
  • If I do not control, I will be controlled, and I cannot 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 not controllable.


Example of how my Controller has caused me challenges:

As the new Executive Director, I have created a team of my top managers. The goal of this team was to produce innovative ways to raise an additional $100,000 in fundraising dollars during this next fiscal year. From my perspective this team had not been successful in the past, so it was my conclusion that I would take charge and make sure we were successful. I facilitated this team and felt under my direction that everyone would comply, and we would raise the additional revenue needed. I came to the first team meeting with a plan. There did not seem to be any enthusiasm for my ideas, and no one volunteered for any of the needed tasks, so I chose them.

What was the Justification lie I was telling myself? That I was smarter than anyone else and had the only workable plan and that if I did not take charge nothing would happen.

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


Negative Emotion = Saboteur

They motivate you through negative emotions.

Staying in negative emotion hurts your ability to see clearly and respond with empathy, curiosity, creativity, or laser-focused action.

  1. If you’re feeling negative emotions STOP. You’re in Saboteur.
  2. Do some PQ Reps to quiet Saboteurs and activate.
  3. Assume the Sage Perspective that every problem can be converted into a gift & opportunity.
  4. Generate the gift by using the Sage powers like empathy, curiosity, creativity, and calm, clear-headed action.


Next month I will identify and discuss three more 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