Here comes the New Year.  Ready to clear out?

Think of your internal clear-out as if you had been holding something in your hand all year long.  Open your hand and let it drop.

All that stuff that you've accomplished or failed to is really no more than ideas about you should be, and notions about what would make you happy.

You may notice that you are actually changing and dropping these ideas all the time.  Throughout the year you may have picked up a few items you no longer need ...

_As anyone knows who has moved house, it's truly amazing how quickly we fill the space around us!  Isn't it incredible how, after a major clear-out, within a few years we seem to have filled the bucket back up to the brim?  Isn't it mind-boggling how much you discover you own when you start getting rid of stuff?    

It's almost as if we are not quite fully aware of what we are doing.   

I'm not saying you don't need every single item that you have.  But I do remember what Jacob Glass used to say -- there's no vortex quite like an empty apartment!

Our internal world is a bit like this too, isn't it?  We go along picking up all kinds of ideas from the world around us, like lint. Then suddenly we find we are saying things we don't even believe or mean to say!   

The we sit up in surprise and think, "That's not me!  I'm not like that." And it's a bit of a shock, really.   

Many of the things we pick up are painful to us -- fears about what other people might do to us, harsh judgements, tendencies to worry about the state of the world.   Even the temptation to gossip or bland conversations about the weather; these are just habits we all share as accepted ways of relating to one another.  They are not the real you.

Of course, not all these ideas we pick up are harmful or burdensome.  Only the unquestioned ones!

How about our ideas of what success looks like for an example?  Many children are being pushed into performance testing and evaluation as early as 4 and 5, in order to be accepted into kindergarten. Kindergarten! This is a notion of success that we could do without. It is full of fear about the future, and it's already beginning to velcro itself to tiny minds -- leaving them little room to stretch and grow naturally.  What chance will kids have to be their creative selves if the playing field is already shrinking around them?  

Who have we all become as a result of carrying around some of these burdensome ideas?  Who do we long to be?  Can you feel that longing?

We have added some junk to our beautiful selves that doesn't need to be there: self-condemnation, self-harm, self-chastisement, you name it.  You know what it is. You should hear the things people say to themselves. Tuned in lately? What if you knew that all your internal thoughts were being broadcast on a loudspeaker for everyone to hear? 

These accepted concepts about how we should look, how much we should weigh, whether we make enough money, whether we are on a path to success, are weighing us down. 

Is it really any wonder that we find it hard to connect with others, to love fully and to feel free?

Will we get to the point where we no longer recognize ourselves?  

And if we recognize ourselves, what are we identifying with anyway -- it's all just a bunch of notions about how things should be.

How about, let's not. 

It's almost the end of the year, let's leave them behind in 2011.    

Here' to YOU.

_What have hummingbirds got to do with your life?  Lots, as it turns out!

I don't know how much you know about hummingbirds, but I was very ignorant about these beautiful creatures.  So feel free to laugh at me, but ...

For one, I thought hummingbirds were in constant motion.  They are not. They dip from flower to flower, and as I learned one day, they will actually perch on a branch, rest, and then while still sitting with their tails opening and closing like wee luminescent fans, they'll casually poke the nearest flower.

I also thought they were silent.  They are not. As they whirr and whizz around at  speed they chirp, trill, cry, call and sing in delighted tones.  They have different whistles and clucks and I've come to recognize them by their unique sounds as well as their colorings.  And they have other surprising behaviors, like rising up ten stories, hovering and then diving straight down at screaming velocity!

Two reasons why I'm on the hummingbird theme.

One is that in life, I'm often so ignorant of the tiny marvels all around. It's funny how easily we can be lulled into thinking that we know what life is all about.  Perhaps if you'd asked me about hummingbirds, I might have been fairly confident in my thinking that they are in constant motion.  Even though I really did not know that.

I come up against my own ignorance when I'm closely observing life around me.  If I am open to what is there, suddenly life seems to open to me.  It begins teaching me how things really are.  And then I have the opportunity to laugh and drop my illusions.

Often when we find ourselves at the crossroads of what we think we know and some brand new information, it can be tempting to stick with the road we know. Even if it really is not good for us and not leading us where we think.

I do believe it can be strange to us, and even difficult, to remain open to life. Although it is natural for all human beings, it isn't normal practice to let life reveal its secrets to us. We are rather more used to reaching first for what we think we know.  We seem to become more open to learning only after we've come to the edge, exhausted, of what we know.

And this brings me to my second point about hummingbirds and life.  Just like the hummingbird is quiet sometimes, so we need to be.

Everything we need to know about how to live life is available to us. One of the reasons we get lost and take the wrong fork in the road repeatedly is because we have not stopped long enough to listen.  We are too rarely informed from the inside.  We haven't listened to ourselves. I'm not talking about following every emotional upheaval wherever it takes you, I'm talking about honoring our inner guidance.

Many times you've made a mistake and later known that something inside was telling you to do differently.  You probably swapped that inner information for logical reasoning.  Your logical mind didn't have the right answer.  But you knew that afterwards.

This happens -- not because the logical mind is always wrong; it is just more interested in keeping you glued together than anything else.  It wants the version of you that you have now to be preserved; this above all other things.  Your logical thinking is at its' most dangerous not when it doesn't know, but when it thinks it knows. 

As a result, we can easily become great big rigid intolerable know-it-alls.

To have a porous attitude to life is to know one thing: that you don't know everything.  At least not as far as the facts go. And most certainly not as far as concerns the inner lives of other people.  But you can know yourself.

To do that, you need the delightful attitudes of listening, quietness and openness.

The one thing that we all know is exactly what it feels like when we are living as our true selves, living and being who we are. 

I'd suggest that when we are quiet enough to hear our own direction in life and we follow it, we automatically feel open to learning, to understanding others, to loving others. 

To listen closely to your inner world is to hear Life speaking to you.

We are all connected to this same Life, this Spirit or Formless Intelligence, so the result of tuning in is always to feel closer to our real self and to feel closer to others.
_There are some basic dynamics about how the human mind works that create the true basis for change. 

I like to share those dynamics with people when coaching individuals or consulting in business, (and I'll share them with you below) because  active principles help anyone continue to grow, long after a coaching relationship is concluded.

Without this basis for working, the nature of personal change remains a mystery. And I don't want my client to remain a mystery to themselves. I want to work on solid ground, so we are not guessing and fumbling and wishing and hoping.

As my clients come to understand these fundamentals about the workings of their own internal mechanics, they began to see for themselves why they are stuck and consequently, exactly what is required -- for them.  Together we establish a self-sustaining, and self-generated basis for positive change, new ideas and insights.

This is such a practical base-camp to start from that transformational shifts occur in my clients that are irreversible and arise in areas where people had no expectation that change was even possible.

This has also been 100% true in my own life.

_Why Inside / Out Helps
Here's why getting a good grasp of your inner workings is so helpful. 

When you understand, you relax.  You get it. Things makes sense and you know why they are happening. You understand your experiences and as a result your life. You don't get worried that you will forget that, because you see the root of all problems and you know how "the system" works. You begin correcting at the source, instead of at the after-spill.  As your mind relaxes and clears, the more ideas come, the less reactive you are, the less conflicts flare unexpectedly, and the more you feel alive. Clients tell me they feel more "themselves."

It really is astounding how much it helps us to understand that the human mind has some simple functioning rules.  And to know what they are and how they work in simple terms.

Not knowing how your mind works is akin to getting behind the wheel of a car having no idea what happens when you press the accelerator.   If you don't know, you press the pedal, the car speeds forward and there you are behind the wheel, feeling completely helpless to stop it. Even though you have the power to.

Like understanding what happens with car floor pedals, Principles-based work gives you a greater understanding of what happens when you get behind the wheel of life.  

Yet it may not be obvious what this means. I know I didn't see it. I thought I knew a great deal about humans and their motives and behavior.  It turns out I had only scratched the surface. The root of all behavior and all that we feel lies in our thinking -- in the domain of the mind.  We  think we understand our human minds.  We don't. If we truly understood the nature of the mind, we would have many, many more happy humans.

Simple Principles For A Change
It turns out that there are very simple working principles that explain how our own mind-states fluctuate, accelerate and slow down.  Just like for our clueless driver, the functions to learn are not complex, but the information is precious. 

_Misunderstanding our internal signals leads to every problem we have in life.

It has us frantically over-steering, reacting in the wrong ways and then trying to fix the problems we ourselves created by trying to control everything around us. This is very much like going to the doctor for a treatment and walking out of the office with a prescription for your neighbor. 

_Of course, our human machine looks more complex than car pedals, but how we function internally has working rules that actually are very easy to get. To learn them is to grasp THE single greatest determining factor in your quality of life.

For companies looking to increase employee performance, resiliency and wellness, this understanding constitutes the ultimate competitive advantage.  It is easy to see that employees with clear thinking processes, less emotional clutter and stress would be the definitive asset.

The work I do is often referred to as Principles-based, an "inside/out approach," "transformational coaching" or "The Three Principles work,"  Whatever the term used, the key distinction lies in that a Principles-based view always consists of looking at the inner functioning of human beings as thinking and feeling entities, for whom the overriding explanation for all our ups and downs in performance, contentment, and well-being -- lies on the inside of each of us and never in the circumstances outside of us.

The idea of looking within to understand human life is nothing new, of course.

What IS Inside /Out Work?
As a Principles-based coach, I will talk with a person about their inner world, the nature of thought and other aspects of mind and thinking functions so that we can lay a common ground about how the pedals work. We want to start off here.  Yet Principles work is not positive thinking, behavioral psychology or positive psychology.  It's also not about any kind of new brain science.  It focuses on humans as thinking/feeling beings as a whole; and the implications of that knowledge in very practical terms. I'm interested in what's practical.  And I've never found anything more practical that the rules that govern how things work.

I would describe this inside/out approach as having a basis in the following simple truths about all humans:
  • we all think
  • we feel whatever we think
  • there's no "off switch" - we are alive and part of Life as a whole
This turns out to be the most practical thing you can ever learn if you are willing to examine more closely how these work in you and your life.

In fact, I'd say that anyone who's not yet completely content and peaceful about life, would benefit from spending time understanding how exactly these play out for them, very specifically, day to day. I don't want you to think of them theoretically or conceptually. Concepts are are very little use for real change. If I say to you "I saw a dog today," I'm giving you no more than a conceptual category, but you have no idea what I really saw, do you?  There's not much you can do with that.  Except know I didn't see a tree or a boat.

Principles are not theories or concepts.  Principles are of immense use. Their relevance is immediate.  I've seen people grasp these simple truths and have their stress and anxiety dissolve on the spot. 

Have You Read the Manual?
Without a good understanding of our own inner driving mechanisms, we all tend to:
  •  misunderstand our feelings
  •  attribute our feelings to all kinds of things outside ourselves
  •  run around trying to change the way we feel in all kinds of ways that actually don't change how we feel
  • forget that a new idea could arrive at any time
This is what I mean by using the pedals without understanding what they do. I see people everyday who are metaphorically speaking, driving with the gas and brakes on at the same time. Someone who blames a long line at Starbucks for their bad mood is showing me they do not understand that it is actually their own thoughts are coming alive in them through their own five senses.

I see people who are depressed, they are worried and can't sleep, they are eating their way through life -- they are waiting on the bank balance to go up, the child to come home or the scales to change in order to feel better. Maybe they want a coach to help.  The best thing a coach could ever do is to show them how in every human, thoughts and feelings change independently of circumstances.

It sets them free.

Truly, we do not understand how the human mechanism works. Rising divorce levels are a testament to it. Persistent stress levels are a testament to it. Continued war is a testament to it.

These things would change and will change when we begin to grasp the operating principles of the human mind. 

To work on a Principles-basis is to finally be given the manual to the human operating system that is you.

_What Changes? Only Everything.
There is compelling and well-documented evidence of just how successful a Principles-based approach is in working with others.

Research being published is demonstrating how self-perpetuating change and ripples out from a single individual to all those around them.

Books are being written about the effects of trainings on human performance -- in sports and in the boardroom. Video documentation is available on work with young offenders and there are two videos on my home page about "no hope" diagnosis for addiction, mental illness and persistent or traumatic stress and how they were overturned.

In our own CSC work in organizations we see teams cooperate more fully and work environments become more harmonious and creative after Principles-based trainings.

There isn't an athlete on the planet who doesn't know the important role that the mind plays in performance levels.

In every field of endeavor, a greater understanding of how you operate internally will help you. Tremendously.

Everyone automatically becomes a better driver when they understand the pedals.

To learn more about Organizational State of Mind Trainings or personal coaching using the Principles-based approach, contact me.

Please view the CSC media site or on Three Principles Movies for even more case studies, research and training links.