Last week I shared with you a great resource, Michael Neill’s book Inside Out Revolution, the ideas of which I’m going to be exploring in my personal quest for Simplicity in October.
Michael’s work in this book is based on the Three Principles and as I’ve explored this fascinating school of thought I’ve found the ideas shared actually quite complicated to really get a grip on.
So, in my push for simplicity, I’m writing this post in an attempt to simplify for myself one key tenet in this philosophy. After all if I can explain it to you in a way you can ‘get’, I will have simplified the concept for myself in the process of doing so!
I also want to explore how one concept in the Three Principles lends itself lends itself incredibly well to simplifying my life as a business owner.
So here’s the idea I want to explore with you today:
The source of all of the ‘problems’ we experience is the misunderstanding of where our experience comes from.
We believe that when we have do a product launch that bombs, another client says ‘no’ to working with us, when we have a row with our husbands, or the kids leave their rooms in a tip (again!) that that CAUSES us to feel bad. And then everything around us had this ‘grey’ tinge of being really quite crap.
On the other hand, when you’re having one of those months where the money’s coming in, our husband surprises us with flowers and we stare at our kids sleeping in awe at how amazing they are, we believe that CAUSES us to feel good. If we could just break six figures, buy the big house, meet the right man, have the right job, that would cause us to be happy.
And despite the majority of believing that to be the case, actually we’ve got it wrong.
Instead, our experience doesn’t come from what’s going on in the world.
Our experience comes from our thinking, not from what is ‘actually’ going on in the world.
And not only that but our thoughts are transient and invariably end up back at our innate well-being.
Let me give you an example. I’m sitting here thinking about my business strategy and plans for 2014.
I sit here for a few minutes thinking about how my business has done this year and my thoughts (and experience of my business) go something like this.
Thought: “Well we had two really really good months this year, I should think about how to replicate that success again next year and we smashed a huge financial target”
Experience: Feeling excited about next year, proud of what I’ve achieved this year, looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and creating some great stuff next year.
Followed by thought: “But we had some really big team challenges, some of the technology we use to support what we do screwed up, I worked so hard I made myself ill”.
Experience: Feeling doubt, “Can I really handle this?”
Followed by thought: “Maybe I should set our targets small and safe for 2014” and “Imagine if I got ill again/something went wrong with the business and I lost everything and had to pull the kids out of school and leave my lovely new house and friends”
Experience: Panic, insecurity and fear.
Followed by thought: “But I coped with everything was thrown at me last year and there’s no reason I can’t do exactly the same again next year – we came out on top and in fact stronger – why not do the same again?”
Experience: Hope, looking forward to the future, dreaming big dreams again.
All these thoughts coming through my mind one at a time in a matter of minutes. But through all of this nothing changed. I was still looking at the same piece of paper with my management accounts on – my business remained the same, it was only my thinking that changed.
And my accountant looking at the exact same piece of paper would have had entirely different thoughts about what she saw, and entirely different experiences. As would my nine year old daughter.
So do we just have to catch our negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones?
No, it’s even simpler than that. We don’t need to do ANYTHING. This is music to the ears of a busy business woman, mother and new puppy owner on a quest for simplicity! In fact we do LESS that we’re probably used to doing.
We simply watch our pass thoughts pass by and the great thing is that eventually they always return to a place of mental well being. As long as we don’t attach a load of importance to them and take our thoughts too seriously, the system balances itself out and we end up in a pretty good place.
So here are the implications of this on my business:
1. With an understanding that the stuff ‘out there’ doesn’t cause the experience I have ‘in here’, I can free up my time and energy trying to control what happens ‘out there’. I don’t even have to try to control my thinking, I simply do nothing and end up in a good place. All that time and energy I’ve been wasting can now be put to good use doing stuff that actually matters.
2. If my product launch bombs I have an awareness that my thoughts about that are creating my experience of ‘feeling bad’. And just the knowing of that fact, and that my thoughts are transient means I don’t worry so much about ‘feeling bad’ or even try to stop ‘feeling bad’ as I know a new thought and therefore a new experience will be along shortly. And because of that, I just pay it less attention so it no longer even becomes a problem. So that frees up my mind and energy too.
3. Any frustration I feel about a not-so-great product launch is no longer feedback to me about how bad the launch was. Rather it’s feedback about the quality of my thinking in the moment. I now know that experiencing a low quality thought (indicated to me by ‘my feelings are bad’) and the accompanying ‘OMG I HAVE to do something about this RIGHT NOW, URGENTLY’ are signs that I need to wait for that thought to pass before acting. Not acting on that impulse as I might have previously done. The impact of this on my business? Well I’m still IN business for a start! Rather than reacting to the ‘This is never going to work, I should ditch it all!’ thoughts (you know the ones, right!?), I simply wait for them to pass.
4. Problems I thought I have just seem to vanish as they were never really actually there in the first place.
Have I thoroughly ‘got’ this concept in my bones? Not 100%. There are times when I think ‘but my new puppy DOES make me happy!’ and ‘my kids DO drive me crazy’ but when I reflect I can see that it’s my thoughts NOT my puppy or my kids that’s making the difference.
But even having the limited understanding that I do, it’s already making a difference.
My mind is quieter and more able to hear that little voice of wisdom.
I’m more present because I’m not constantly thinking about how to control what’s going on around me, or worrying about ‘problems’ so much.
It’s certainly more simple.
So did I explain this concept simply enough? When I first heard about the Three Principles my reaction was ‘I don’t get it, but I understand enough to know that if only I could get it, this could be massive’. If you’ve got even an inkling of this as you read, I strongly encourage you read Michael’s book as he explains it far better than I can!
Share your thoughts, insights and most importantly your questions. Challenge me on this. The more you do, the more my own understanding will deepen as I try to answer your questions so I’d be grateful for your help.