Forward Thinking Workplaces, we discover the people, insights, and strategies that lead to Forward Thinking minds, leaders, and workplaces of the future — today.
14 Forward-Thinking Insights
- All those things happen when people understand where their experience is coming from.
- Our perception of reality is based on our own thought — not external circumstances.
- Humans create their perception of reality from thought.
- We’re not aware of the outside world — we’re aware of thought.
- Thought is an automatic force behind life — we just need to know where to look for it.
- Most people are living in a lot of thought and don’t know it.
- We become quieter, more present, and listen better with less thinking on our minds.
- We bring out the best in others by bringing out the best in ourselves.
- People want to feel good.
- If you weren’t doing this with your time, what would you be doing?
- We’re all just humans, and we forget that.
- Stop overburdening your mind with so many questions.
- Let the personal thought system go quiet to allow the built-in intelligence of the mind to emerge.
- There’s no juice for the squeeze in doing.
Read the full interview at How to Unleash Your Human Operating System.
Question 1: How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
All those things happen when people understand where their experience is coming from.
“I believe that all three of those things happen when people understand where their experience is coming from, which is why I’ve been so delighted to stumble across a set of principles that explains where the human experience comes from. One of the reasons workplaces are often considered the opposite of what you just said is because people don’t feel heard. People don’t feel there’s space for innovation — and just generally, many people really dislike their work. The number of people describing their workplaces as toxic is increasing. Stress and burnout have become routine. Now I don’t think that’s one person’s fault. I don’t believe that it’s the boss's fault. I don’t think it’s a nasty co-worker’s fault. I believe that it’s an innocent symptom of a misunderstanding about the human experience that is pervasive throughout all aspects of society right now. But it’s especially pronounced in the workplace. When people don’t understand that their experience is coming from their own mind, they tend to feel very victimized by external forces.”
2. Our perception of reality is based on our own thought — not external circumstances.
“When people don’t understand that their experience is coming from their own mind, they tend to feel very victimized by external forces. The feelings that they have seem to be caused by external forces. That means that things like the boss, a deadline, budget cuts, or even just the traffic getting into the workplace stresses them out. If you were to ask the average human walking around the streets today, what is hard about their job, most people would give you a list of those external forces. Their list would include either people or circumstances that they feel are completely out of their control and have nothing to do with them. But what’s interesting is in the principles that we’ve uncovered about how the mind operates and how it creates the experience of life from the inside out. It totally flips people’s understanding of life on its head.”
3. Humans create their perception of reality from thought.
“Before learning an understanding referred to as the three principles, I thought that my good feelings and my bad feelings came from things that happened to people or me around me. When it was introduced to me that there’s a universal kind of operating system for all human beings regardless of workplace, culture, race, gender, creed, religion, regardless of anything, just a basic set of principles, kind of like biology, that explains how we create our feelings, it was a revelation to me. For example, we have a heartbeat and have cells doing these magnificently complicated jobs inside our bodies. There’s also a human operating system that explains how humans create their perception of reality, and that is thought. The fact that we are thinking all the time. That’s thought, the first principle.”
4. We’re not aware of the outside world — we’re aware of thought.
“Then there’s consciousness, the second principle. The fact that we are aware. Humans are aware, but they’re not aware of the outside world. That is what was so new to me. They’re aware of thought. I’m feeling. I’m having awareness in my sensory system in my body, in my feelings, of my own thinking (not the outside world). But it’s so seamless and instantaneous that it appears I’m having a feeling and an awareness of the world out there and other people.”
5. Thought is an automatic force behind life — we just need to know where to look for it.
"Then the third principle of mind, which is that thought comes from an energy source. Just like our heartbeat isn’t something we wake up and manually do every day, there’s not an on-button that we have to worry about pressing. It’s just an automatic force of life. Mind is the universal automatic force behind life, which means that we will keep having new thoughts. The more people begin to understand that their experience of life is internally generated — not externally generated — the more they realize that they basically can go back to the well to look for new thoughts. That capability is built-in. The potential to have a new thought at any moment. It’s like, what do they say when you buy a new toy? Batteries are already included. Well, your mind is already included. The potential for new thought is already included in the human makeup. We just have to know where to look for it.”
6. Most people are living in a lot of thought and don’t know it.
"Creativity and innovation are just fun words for new thought, in my opinion. New thought is the engine behind creativity, the engine behind innovation. The thing that kills creativity and innovation is old thought. Helping people see some principles explain the basic human operating system gives them the roadmap to creativity and innovation. It gives them the roadmap to having a richer and much more enjoyable work experience because they’re not feeling so stressed and as if that stress is being put upon them. One of the most beautiful things I see transform in companies — when the people in them learn these principles of how the mind creates our experiences — is that most people are living in a LOT OF THOUGHT and don’t know it — or don’t know that it’s optional.”
7. We become quieter, more present, and listen better with less thinking on our minds.
“There is a massive disconnection going on in humanity right now, and people are so hungry to be heard — to feel like they’re sitting across from someone present — to feel in the moment. All those things we talk about that we try to get through activities and techniques like yoga and meditation. If people could just understand that they’re living in a world of thought, that’s of their making. They don’t have to do that. Then an enormous amount of it falls away. They become quieter and more present-minded. Then listening starts to happen. I sometimes think that is the first thing that changes when people learn these principles — they start listening outside of their old thinking habits. That alone dramatically changes the feeling of the workplace as more people listen with less thinking on their mind.”
Question 2: What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
8. We bring out the best in others by bringing out the best in ourselves.
“I remember saying to my Dad once, who is still sharing the principles in his company with new employees as well as many who have been learning about it for years. He once asked me, “Mara, how would you define leadership?” I thought for a moment and said, “I think leadership is bringing out the best in others by bringing out the best in yourself.” I don’t think it’s humanly possible to bring out the best in others if you don’t bring out the best in yourself. I think that’s the funny thing about humans. I always joke (and I don’t really mean this), “I don’t know why human eyeballs face outward. It will help if they face inward!” I say that only because I think everything about us wants to look outside us first. What made me feel that way? How do I fix that person? What needs to be better in my life out there? As if those things are somehow real. I’ve learned from studying the mind and human experience that the only thing we’re ever experiencing is ourselves and our mind. The clearer my mind is, the clearer the world looks.”
Question 3: What do people really lack and long for at work?
9. People want to feel good.
"I would put it very simply; it’s the same thing people lack and long for life anywhere in the world, which is a good feeling. I could say that in a million different ways — more connection, more feeling, more in the moment, more inspiration, more recognition, and so on. There are so many words you could say, but I would sum it up by saying people want more good feelings. They want to feel better at work and in life. I’ve never met a human from anywhere—and I’ve worked with violent gang members who are doing lifetime prison sentences to CEOs with millions and millions of dollars in their bank account—and underneath the wrapping of those individuals on the inside is the same desire, which is to feel nice in life. I don’t mean happy all the time; that’s not what I mean. I think a more good feeling can be a peace of mind.”
Question 4: What is the most important question leaders should ask employees?
10. If you weren’t doing this with your time, what would you be doing?
“It’s going to sound ridiculous and unorthodox, but what I would ask is this, “If you weren’t doing this with your time, what would you be doing?” I think it’s incredibly revealing. People don’t let themselves ask themselves that question because they don’t see it as a possibility. And I wouldn’t stop there. If I was running an IT company and I said to my employee, “What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?” and they said surfing. I wouldn’t then walk away saying, “Well, ok, too bad, that’s nothing related to IT. I guess you got to make a choice, either stick with this boring job or go surf.” I think it’s just interesting to see where people let themselves go in their thinking when asked that question. The reason I’d ask that question—not because the answer specifically matters — I’d be looking for what makes them come alive. Then I would love to find out what it is about that thing that makes them come alive. Because what I’ve learned in sharing these principles with people is that they’ve innocently attributed freedom of mind to a specific activity.”
Question 5: What is the most important question employees should ask leaders?
11. We're all just humans, and we forget that.
“Ask the same question above. I only say that because I think in offices and work environments, people tend to put so many boxes around things like, “Well, this is what a manager would ask of an employee, and this is what an employee would ask of a manager.” I think we’re all just humans, and we forget that. I don’t know that the question should change. We tend to think the question should change, but in truth, it’s, “What makes humans come alive?” Let’s all talk about that more.”
Question 6: What’s the most important question we can ask ourselves?
12. Stop overburdening your mind with so many questions.
“I’m going to suggest we stop asking ourselves questions and just be. I always say to my clients when they say, “Doesn’t this matter, and doesn’t this matter?” They’re overburdening their mind with so many questions and never answering them. It just creates a lot of chatter in the human mind. It creates this sense of deficiency or lack. People are saying to themselves, “Well, I have to figure this out, and I don’t have enough of that yet. And what about this, and what about that?” I always look at small children, and I think they’re not asking themselves questions about themselves like, “How am I doing today?” or, “Am I a bad person because I did that thing?” They’re just in life, and when they do ask questions, they ask questions about the world—not about themselves.”
13. Let the personal thought system go quiet to allow the built-in intelligence of the mind to emerge.
“Another thing that I would add to this is one of the things that shifted for me when I learned there were principles that explain the human experience. Mind is a built-in intelligence, so it almost looks cute to me now. I’ll speak for myself — I don’t mean to be patronizing towards anyone else. It’s almost cute that I, with my personal thought system, try to figure things out. “Oh, what should I be doing with this?” It now looks very innocently cute. Isn’t that sweet? There goes my personal mind and my personal thinking trying to come up with answers. Because whenever that personal thoughts system goes quiet, I live with the intelligence of mind at my back. Everything I’ve gotten so far in life has just been an automatic result of being human and having the intelligence of life built into me. Every time I’ve struggled, it’s because my little personal thought system has started making up stories that I don’t know enough. I don’t need to ask myself more questions.”
Question 7: In an earlier conversation with you, I shared my experience of how I observed things starting to change around me as I started leading myself and “being the change.” Can you share your thoughts on why this happens?
14. There’s no juice for the squeeze in doing.
“I think there’s something so profound in that, and I’ll try to talk about it simply because I think it can easily get lost and sound too abstract, but that’s the profundity of seeing humans are levels of consciousness because most people are looking for what do I do? Tell me what to do? What’s good leadership? Could you give me the things a great leader does? There’s really no juice for the squeeze in doing because doing is just a natural ripple out of a state of consciousness. And to your point, anytime someone leaps in their own personal understanding of their own mind, or has their own shift in consciousness, they do differently without even realizing it, and then things change.”