Outside the invisible circle

Mentoring is only possible when conducted outside the circle that contains the protégé's endeavors and outlook. Mentoring is process that is based on NOT getting caught up in the same premises, perceptions and reactions as those getting mentored. I find I make the most difference coming from a different place, rather than with the particular advice I give. The entrepreneurs come under a different impression of what happened and how to respond by dealing with my different set of premises.

Our local minds are designed to get caught up in patterns of perceptions and reactions without giving them further thought. We jump to conclusions and assume what we always conclude. We are quick to categorize and familiarize the new situation and move on to other concerns. Our premises are unthinkable, inaccessible by worrying and deeply held.

Our premises form circles, cycles and recursive processes. We perpetuate our misery or reinforce our successes. We enclose any provocation into a story we find to be consistent, reliable and reassuring. We feed reenactments of familiar dramas with our speedy reactions that assume what will happen next. We don't see how we are actually inside invisible circles. Instead we realize our predictions were right, the problem is real and the others complied with our expectations. We assume the case against our assumptions is closed and no further questions are required.

When I'm mentoring someone, I do not buy into these cycles. I stand outside the circle that perpetuates the patterns. I contradict the predictions of what will happen next. I challenge their assumptions about what the situations indicate, signify or reveal. I offer different stories for what gets into people, what motivates their reactions and what feeds their chronic problems. I reframe the definition of the problem and point out different directions to look for solutions.

All I can do at this point is trust the process. I create the tension between two world-views and see what happens. I experience the suspense like all those movies I enjoy so much. I don't know how it will turn out and what will happen next. I live the mystery and play my part when it appears called for.


Taking a broader perspective

A loss of idealism creates a teachable moment. Those I'm mentoring become temporarily open to a broader perspective when their bubble has been burst. It feels to them like their closed minds have been broken open to consider new outlooks, premises and purposes. This moment calls for balance from me between objectivity and subjectivity. The many imaginative possibilities need to be grounded in what actually happened. Otherwise this exploration of abstractions will not connect to their future actions.

Here are seven places I go when mentoring others to take a broader perspective:

Taking it literally
It's always inside our comfort zone to react to incidents with dichotomies. We automatically think in terms of either/or categories and draw the line divisively. We orient ourselves with pure objectivity: "just the facts Ma'am" and "No further questions your Honor". We strive for accuracy in our reporting on the assumption that incidents are meant to be taken literally.

Taking it creatively
It's always possible to explore what-if questions when idealism has been lost. We can imagine that what happened is like solid contents are in search of an appropriate container. We can change the definition of the problem or the interpretation of the presenting evidence. We can go outside the box provided by the incident to connect the dots differently than before. We can play around with imagery and comparisons to get a different feel for the obvious facts.

Taking it developmentally
Anything that happens occurs in a sequence. There's a context of what led up to this and what is ongoing through this. We can consider an incident as a sign of growth, an indication of a process or a step in a progression. When taking things developmentally, we use words that end in "ing" like the title of this blog. We see patterns of processing, regressing, changing, realizing, fulfilling, and transforming.

Taking it cyclically
Our solutions may boomerang and give us a taste of our own medicine. We reap what we sow by how we treat others to where we're coming from. We ask for trouble by giving others trouble we believe is necessary under the circumstances. What we dish out to the world haunts us or hunts us down. We cannot escape the unintended consequences of our actions until we change what we put into the endless cycles. We can only be the change to change the way the world treat us. Life is a circle game.

Taking it reflectively
What shows up is a mirror reflection of what's been on in our minds and in our hearts. We get to see what we've been imagining with lots of feeling by what appears and disappears in our world. Anytime we are pointing a finger, we are pointing three more at ourselves. We can blame the reflection for making us look bad or take it back on ourselves as a creation of our outlook. When we become fascinated by what appears in the mirror, we will be shown what we're missing, overlooking and dismissing. We'll see how we created the problem with the same power to create a solution.

Taking it empathetically
In order to get along with other people, we need to look through their eyes and see their point of view. We when get in their corner and back up their position, they feel collaborative and accommodating. When they know how much we care, they can then care how much we know. It pays to invest in a the mutual fund account by seeking first to understand, before making withdrawals by seeking to get understood. When we can speak their mind, we can work a much better deal with them and for them.

Taking it spiritually
It's possible that what happened is a big mystery to us both. Perhaps it pays to not know what this is, what this means or what to conclude about this. Then we are open to revelations about how it is perfect as is. We will be shown what to let go of in order to go with the flow right now. We'll realize how to be free in this appearance of entrapments, entanglements and fears. We'll see how to be in this situation in a way that is congruent with our soul, calling or highest purpose. We see so much good in it we'll then come from a place that exudes gratitude, fascination and satisfaction.

With so many different frames of reference to use, my logical mind is routinely overwhelmed. The only way to be effective is to take it all spiritually, face it as a mystery and receive what comes to mind that responds to the teachable moment before me.


Losing idealism

Entrepreneurs must depart from "business as usual" in order to succeed. Those whom I mentor routinely get hold of some big idea and chase after it with a vengeance. Entrepreneurs are prone to this idealism, in part, because it's an energizing state of mind. Amidst all the adversity, setbacks and problems, the emotional impact of idealized possibilities is downright encouraging.

Idealism is a perilous state of mind. As a mentor, I am constantly in the position of seeing the imminent dangers. Their big ideas look to me like bubbles that will get burst in a world of pins and needles. From my detached perspective, their inflated ideas appear as grandiosity, and self-delusion. The situation appears as a set-up to reenact the pattern of "those who exalt themselves shall be humbled".

When bubbles get burst, hopes get shattered. It feels like we've fallen off our high horse and bit the dust. Our fall from grace leaves us in disgrace. We experience a crisis of confidence, a loss of certainty and a change in outlook. We no longer know which perceptions to trust, which thinking to rely on and which urges to follow.

To the entrepreneurs caught up in idealism, the big ideas appear enlivening, inspiring and motivating. My practical outlook does not get a warm reception. Forecasting their downfall appears cynical, pedantic or hostile. I'm faced with a dilemma at this point. Their improved energy level is as important to me as their facing the inevitable consequences of their inflated ambitions, expectations and assessments. I've learned to trust the unfolding process that works things out with perfect timing.

The world defeats idealism when support is available to pick up the pieces. Shattered hopes call for a bigger picture. Disorienting feedback begs for a more inclusive frame of reference. Indications of poor judgment, a misdiagnosis, and over-estimations of potential -- all create demand for a broader perspective. In my experience, mentoring really begins when a bubble has been burst by happenstance.


Blog post number 400

This is the 400th post I've added to this blog since I started it in 2006. 400 is a wonderful number. By that I mean it is a number full of wonder, just as this entire blog is intended to be for you and me. Thanks for being a reader!

To put the significance of 400 into words, it could be said that 400 means "totally together - not this - not that" or "combine into a foursome and zero out either extreme". Here's how our inner teachers view situations as "a four followed by two zeros".
I wonder if this is (1) good in a good way, (2) good in a bad way, (3) bad in a bad way and/or (4) bad in a good way, but not entirely good or bad.

I wonder if this is (1) looking forward to the future, (2) looking forward to a repeat of the past, (3) looking back on unresolved history for the future and/or (4) looking back on deeply felt visionary possibilities we're looking forward to, but neither looking back or forward exclusively.

I wonder if this is (1) changing the way we stabilize our situation, (2) changing the way we change our situation, (3) stabilizing the way we stabilize our situation and/or (4) stabilizing the way we change our situation, but not entirely disrupting or stagnating our situation.
Whenever we can wonder about all four possibilities without either extreme, we are open to receiving insights. We are full of wonder. We have emptied of mind of its stale opinions, conditioning or foregone conclusions. We are using a "beginner's mind" that thrives on curiosity, not-knowing and questions. We are keeping the four possibilities in balance to realize the winning combination, emergent synergy and total solution. We are right where our inner teachers want us to be to learn the next lesson.


The archetype of wholeness

If one is true to oneself and follow it's teaching, who need be without a teacher.
Chang Tsu - fourth century B.C.
I'm very fond of Jungian psychology and their concept of the Self which is at the center and the entire periphery of the psyche. As you may observe from the quote above, the concept of Self is at least 600 years old. Jungians characterize the Self as the archetype of wholeness. It includes everything and excludes nothing.

We cannot think like our inner Self because it's truth is paradoxical. We can get glimpses of this outlook in images of balance, combinations, holistic approaches and wheels. We speak of these images in moving through all four seasons, covering all four bases and facing all four directions.

We are listening well to our inner Self when we learn to see the value in "both/and" and the inherent problems in "either/or" approaches. Here are a few examples:
  • There are two kinds of positive thinking: one kind is only positive about positive things and negative about negative things. The other kind is positive about positive and negative things. To be positive about negative things sees that anything that appears negative is good for something and thus good and bad.
  • There are two ways to see the passage of time. One way sees it's only real and speaks of losing time, wasting time and running out of time. The other way sees time is both real and illusory. The passage of time is a real practical experience but not really happening when we are minding the eternal Now moment.
  • There are two kinds of teachers: one kind is only on the outside and the only source of reliable expertise, valid information and useful solutions. The other kind is inside and outside us, in what happens and what comes to mind, in people how inform us and what we learn upon reflection.
That includes this post, or perhaps begins the next one, by appearing right now to create an ending in a continuity of writing by me and reading by you.


Receiving and responding

There are feelings I get when my inner teacher answers my question, gives me a better way to see my situation or inspires me to take an action that works out for the better. I feel blessed, respected, safe and energized. I know how to proceed without relying on my fear-based thinking, antiquated reactions to evidence or the perpetuation of what I've tried before. I come up with better timing, sequences of steps, amounts of effort and combinations of endeavors than my lower consciousness could produce. All this is my experience on the receiving end of my inner teacher's generosity.

Besides all this getting gifts from within, there's an equal amount of giving I do. I'm usually on the responding side when I'm mentoring and relating to others in my life. I'm dealing with the psychological pain they're in, the concerns they have or the issues they're resolving. I tune into others then go within my consciousness to get an inspiration for how to respond.

My inner teacher seems like a "first responder" to me that comes to my rescue when I'm in need of inside help. I then learn by this example and respond to my world in whatever way I'm inspired to do. Together we synthesize a responsive system that handles what comes into my outside world with what comes to my mind. The portion of my consciousness that is my identity is in between what is inside "me" and outside "me". As I've become more emptied, humble, innocent and open, the mediator role of "me" is getting filled more effectively.

As more inner teachers come into consciousness, we will see a much higher level of mutual responsiveness among us. Rather than getting overwhelmed by the chaos in the world, more of us will respond to our immediate situations superbly. Instead of making wild guesses, we will act with perfect timing. In lieu of getting ahead of ourselves or taking shortcuts, we'll cover all the bases in effective sequences. Instead of trying to make things work that keep falling short of success, we'll be inspired to take a more creative approach or redefine the problem entirely before taking action. In lieu of indulging in overkill, extremes and excessive spending, we'll "touch the world sparingly" for the right effect. Instead of being full of ourselves, we will be empty enough to get what we need in each moment from our inner teachers.

With all these possible improvements inherent in the nature of our "higher consciousness", it's only a matter of when will we evolve out of our lower consciousness.


In lieu of schooling

All the problems with classroom schooling have the potential to destroy this time-honored institution. That may mean there's no point in wasting anymore time and money on educational reforms. We could be wise to let the "archaic means of torturing students in the name of academic standards" fall by the wayside. There are perfect replacements for schooling emerging amidst all these problems.

In lieu of sleeping
It's possible for students to be awake to the truth that learning is meant to be a joy. We already know everything in our eternal spirits and merely pretend to have forgotten it all while in our mortal bodies. Remembering what we already know is done for the fun of learning, discovering, exploring and finding. If it's not fun to become more knowledgeable and skillful, it's pointless from our immortal perspective. With this truth in mind, there's no need for instruction and every reason to create experiences. There's no purpose in delivering content without bringing out the best in each of us.

In lieu of getting burnt
An evacuation of school can become the right way to get an education. Learners will be on fire with desire to realize their potential, utilize their experiences and share their discoveries. It takes a village or a network to find oneself in how others see us, respond to our uniqueness and encourage our development. We are not designed to thrive in a monoculture of parents and a teacher. We need a diversity of role models, guides and contrasting approaches to find the fire that burns within each of us. We're designed to immerse ourselves in mysteries, unknowns and ill-structured situations. Perhaps that's why so many have climbed steep learning curves to play elaborate online games with ease.

In lieu of a perpetual war zone
We deepen and enrich our learning experiences amidst fascinating conflicts. When we are torn between alternatives, we come to greater realizations. Whenever we get one sense on the inside and another from outsiders, we resolve our values, priorities and sense of purpose. It takes getting shattered by what we've overlooked, ruled out and taken a stand against. We naturally get hold of a big idea, become idealistic and over-simplify the paradoxical truth. It feels like getting a bomb dropped on our shaky confidence to find out we're blaming others for our own unresolved issues. Rather expect contentious grown-ups and partisan politicians to provide examples, the reconciliations and realignments in social learning with peers is a better source of realizations.

In lieu of vindictive prosecution
Amazing transformations occur inside cocoons. Our minds thrive on getting inside cauldrons with tight lids or fortresses with sealed exits. When we suddenly feel trapped amidst an wondrous adventure, the adversity brings out our best traits. We need now way out to come up a whole new approach, self concept or strategy. Rather than trying to learn from other who wallow in self pity, complaining or blaming others, we can profit far more from putting ourselves into jambs. Getting captivated by a big challenge gets far better results than being imprisoned in factory schooling.

In lieu of widening the generation gap
Anyone who learns from what happens will seem more mature than others who learn from instruction. This is something any generation can do. Nothing changes our minds faster than the results we get from our thinking in the world of happenstance. If our plans backfire when we think we're right, we'll learn to relate and consider others viewpoints. If idea to help others suddenly blows up in our face, we'll learn to live and let live. If we discover we're making enemies, losers and rivals by our abuse of power, we'll find ways to be more humble, receptive and inquisitive. When we connect the dots between what we did and what shows up, the way we take responsibility will impress others with our maturity.

When everyone who falls in love with learning is enjoying experiences like these, all the problems with schooling will disappear. Breakdowns in motivation, retention and attention dynamics will vanish. Issues with attendance, tardiness and dropouts will become irrelevant. Interpersonal problems like bullying will be replaced with the developmental uses of conflict that will cultivate self respect and understanding of others. Turnover, burnout and workload issues of instructors will lose significance as learning becomes more passionate. Elaborate antics of administrator, journalists, parents and teachers will get sidelined by the authentic reasons to love learning, find one's calling and get along with all others. If all that takes some additional learning to make the switch, each inner teacher is prepared to assist the transition.


The end of schooling?

Classroom schooling does not work in every situation. It depends on the circumstances. To disturb any complacency you may be harboring about the continued viability of schooling, let me use some extreme examples. Schooling cannot work in the middle of the night while the children are sound asleep. Teaching in classrooms breaks down when the alarms are ringing loudly because the school is on fire. Schooling cannot happen on a battlefield where munitions are being fired and bombs are getting dropped. Classroom teaching cannot occur when the teachers are getting handcuffed, summoned into court or jailed while awaiting trial. Schooling cannot succeed when the students are making fabulous money as sex workers, child porn stars or drug dealers to support parents who are more childish than the children.

If we take these examples literally, we can dismiss them. It's easy to say that schooling is not faced with this much dysfunction, disruption and deterioration. However, when we regard these examples as metaphors, dismissing these disruptions to schooling looks more like denial than a realistic appraisal. Then the solutions to perpetuate schooling based on misdiagnoses will backfire -- like putting water in a fuel tank and gasoline on a fire.

Students are showing up sound asleep in a manner of speaking. When they have lost their curiosity, courage, imagination and creativity, they are like zombies in their seats. When the boring content puts them to sleep, they cannot pay attention, recall what was said or care to consider it's significance. They are not about to tap into their inner teachers when knocked unconscious by formal instruction.

Schools are getting evacuated because they appear to be on fire in one way or another. The phenomenally high attendance problems, drop out rates, and home schooling percentages all make it obvious how many consider being in school as dangerous. The stress has 4 to 5 children with chronic headaches showing up in pediatricians' offices each week, compared to 4 to 5 cases per year a decade ago. It's increasingly easy to get burnt by violence, criticism and many other forms of social harm. Cyber-bullying of classmates seems increasingly hostile, hurtful and inflammatory. The constant handling of disruptions makes it impossible to create stability, order and safety for useful learning to happen. Instead, everyone is learning to live in fear.

Classrooms are in the midst of raging battles more frequently than the occasional school shootings. School Board members, parents, TV stations or newspaper reporters -- will drop a bomb on the school by uncovering some story to blow up out of proportion. Outbreaks of contention occur over particular textbooks, school policies, teachers and incidents involving students. Sidelines at sports events reveal more outrage at referees, coaches and player mistakes. Extremely filtered and limited access to internet is the result of administrator fears of reprisals from parents and higher ups in the school districts. Grown-ups are turning schools into a war zone.

Teachers are increasingly handcuffed, held under suspicion and tried in the courts of public opinion. They are no longer free on recognizance to care for particular students, to share their own passion for specific topics, or to inspire learners to be more inquisitive. Teachers are coping with increasing pressures to submit and concede to district controls. Their professional stature, trust, respect and credibility has eroded in our society as it has become increasing litigious, hostile and intolerant.

Lots of children feel they are more mature than their parents. Techno savvy kids have many new ways to feel superior to those grown-ups raising to raise them. They have more friends, have lived more lives and built more empires than their parents. Experiences with online role playing games and simulations gives them far more confidence in some kinds of unfamiliar situations. Tremendous familiarity with wicked side of life so consistently and vividly portrayed by the pop culture eliminates any naivete, innocence and gullibility in kids that parents still harbor. Grown-ups always appear out-of-it to the with-it kids across the generation gap, but this era may be the most extreme version of that pattern.

Inner teachers see all this as a good thing. Much needed changes are occurring through these breakdowns. What's coming about by falling apart will make all these painful problems simply vanish. There's no need to fix classroom schooling or pretend that schooling even remains a possibility. There's some really good alternatives in denial, as well as the truth about how bad things are going to get going down this road we're on with great determination.


Successful imaginations

Are we imagining things when we're in contact with our inner teachers? Yes, that's it exactly. We successfully getting ideas, inspiration, comfort, new perspectives, and answers to our questions - by having active imaginations. Once it works, it's perfectly natural to make a routine of being so receptive, appreciative and attentive within.

Many of those of us without experiences with inner teachers consider the possibility absurd. We write it off to "over-active imaginations" that border on delusional. The fear-based analysis of imagination rules out what comes to mind besides irrational moods and rational thought processes.

To go without the bounty of benefits from inner teachers amounts to a failure of imagination. The imaginative faculties are confined to paranoid forecasts of how things will go from bad to worse. When enough imaginations get the feeling of being realistic, the world creates experiences like soaring prices, credit crunches and economic recessions.

When we live with successful imaginations, we find life to be extremely dreamlike. Everything seems to happen for a wonderful reason like we are on the right track and getting what we need to go forward. We enjoy what happens and welcome more dream-like incidents to come along. We abandon our habit of analyzing, fearing or controlling whatever happens. We simply let the dream continue to come about.

Switching to a successful imagination requires switching off the mind that thinks and uses language. Imagination is inarticulate. What we picture in our minds and feel is very holistic, paradoxical and beyond explanations. Imagines capture much more than we can say. It loses a lot in the translation when we try to put imaginative possibilities into words.

When our wording and imagining work well together, we communicate differently. We utilize word pictures and visual metaphors. We come up with what to say without thinking. Our wording captures feelings that others pick up on. We convey our experience of being imaginative and make it easier for others to enjoy successful imaginations too.


Teachers with inner teachers

Teachers with inner teachers have received what they know from within. Their knowledge feels like a gift given to them to be shared and cared for. The feeling of being blessed with gifts frames the learners' curiosity, motivation to learn and trust in the teacher as gifts also. Both learners and teachers invest in each other without fear getting disappointed. The sense to let go and trust the process infects all parties to this joyful exploration of new understandings.

When teachers are without their inner teachers, they teach what learning they got on the outside. It seemed like work to get it so they make students work to get it also. They apply metaphors of internalizing, assimilating and integrating -- because the learning came from outside the learner. The teachers are aware of risks of forgetting it, misconstruing it and misapplying the knowledge -- so they become control freaks to insure the quality of students' understanding. They focus on testing to address these risks. They make learning into a process of torment under pressure.

Teachers with inner teachers walk their talk. They can act congruently with what they are saying because it's internalized. Students can learn from the actions that speak louder or the words that send the same message. It's easy to practice what they preach because their conduct comes from the same place as their pronouncements.

Teachers without inner teachers look like hypocrites. They say one thing and do another. There's a troublesome disconnect between their cognitive understanding and their actions. They experience themselves to be "twice as smart as they act" and "knowing better than to do what they did". They are teaching what they need to learn and have yet to listen to their own advice. They are quick to point fingers at students and find no fault with themselves. They dread the possibility that students are learning more from how they are taught than what they are taught. They insist that students follow their advice and not their example.

Teachers with inner knowledge demonstrate amazing powers of recall. The knowing seems to be with them always. It occurred to them at a time it seemed immediately useful and is held as something worth remembering. The durability of insightful recollections adds to the joys of learning. They experience what they forget as divinely inspired, as freedom from excess trivia and as making room for more essential insights.

Teachers without inner teachers experience what they understand as "perishable inventory". They have problems with retention because what they learned seemed useless and forgettable at the time. Without refreshers and reviews, it can be gone forever. They see to it that students suffer the same problems by feeding their short term memories facts with no personal significance.

Most teachers are afraid to become inner directed and follow their conscience. They inner guidance calls into question their habitual use of textbooks, tests, formal instruction and superficial exercises. I've learned from my own inner teacher:
  • Anything worth learning can be learned by reflection, but not taught to a learner depending on an instructor
  • It's it not fun, don't do it but if it's fun to teach, it will be fun to learn and keep the feeling going into further explorations.
  • The person who's supposed to give the test is using the new idea and putting it to the test to see if it really works
  • What we learning by doing it will give us the right idea and what we learn by memorizing it will send us off in the wrong direction
  • The best thing to do for learners is be someone who is also learning, reflecting on what happens, exploring new questions and apply knowledge to new challenges.
Teaching with an inner teacher is defiant of institutional guidelines, accountabilities and rewards. Teaching with an inner teacher is compliant with what produces valuable outcomes and a love of life long learning.


Hearing our inner teachers

To hear our inner teachers, we need to listen to different voices in our heads. Most of us have some very loud distractions that disrupt what we could be receiving from our inner teachers. Instead of getting blessed with gifts that respond to what we feel like learning, we are getting tormented by unwanted feelings and thoughts.

Our bodies come with pre-installed cognitive functionality to maximize survival, longevity and success. These automatic mental processes react faster than thinking about perceived threats and dangers. Constant vigilance is maintained without engaging the slower, glucose-consuming, reasoning processes. This high speed processor is designed for very stable environments that require very little learning to survive and thrive. Hunter-gatherers, herders and some agriculturalists have demonstrated the effectiveness of this version of operating system throughout human habitation of this planet.

This functionality is also viral, self-replicating and quickly cultivated in other earthlings. Our minds are brought inline when we have been socialized to stop daydreaming and to start paying attention to authority figures. We get rewarded for reacting to what is outside our minds and punished for "drifting into reverie". We learn to live in fear of what could go wrong, what trouble we've already gotten into and what will come back to haunt us if we stop paying attention. We assume we've been told the truth about real threats and enemies. We stand guard against these perilous assaults by closing our minds, not realizing we've already let the enemy inside to torment us.

When situated in highly turbulent environments, these mental processes crash. We live in a state of chronic anxiety when so much is changing around us. Our minds go crazy when we close our eyes after a busy day or for a moment in between frenetic activities. We are either haunted by dark fantasies or endless to do lists. We become extremely irrational or tyrannically controlled to put a lid of repression on much feared expression. We cannot chill out, simmer down or get a grip. We over-react to dangers and under-estimate opportunities. We cannot get a sense of what's really going on, what approach to take or what will have the best effect. We alternate between urges to be angelic and devilish. The voices in our heads cannot make up their minds.

Our inner teachers wait patiently beyond this fray. From their perspective, this fuss is not really happening. We need newer system software for our minds. We have a lot to learn about what's really real, how to see these misleading appearances and what to do amidst so much confusion. Our perspective has already been captivated by authorities, schooling and our experiences in danger. We have more to unlearn than to learn anew once we get things going with our inner teachers. It gets simpler once we learn what our inner teachers intend to teach us.


Learning to awaken

Recently, I've been pondering whether we can connect to our inner teachers at an early age, or if it's a sign of maturity. I suspect the early connection is maintained by those of us who show signs of being intuitive, creative or wise beyond our years. For most of us, it comes after several other stages of development. What follows is one of the ways I picture the benefits of relying on our inner teachers occurring within one of my many taxonomies.

Stage One: Any of us with a painful childhood that included some history of abuse will enter adulthood "living in the past". What happened to us becomes WHAT IS the focus of our lives, the direction we face and the basis for the stories we tell about ourselves. All other facets of living are SO WHAT! and kept in denial.

Stage Two: Any of us who have conquered our insecurities, found the courage to move forward and set achievable goals, will find ourselves "living in the future". What we're looking forward to becomes WHAT IS the significance of our lives, our reason for living and our optimism about unforeseen changes. Our burdensome past has been dismissed as SO WHAT. It's behind us now, forgotten & forgiven We let it go in order to move on.

Stage Three: Any of us who have found our forecasts, plans and goals to seem arrogant, controlling and conceited, will find ourselves "living in the now moment". What each moment brings is WHAT IS in need of our full attention, revealing to us what to do next and rewarding us for being immersed in the experience. Our anticipated future has joined our burdensome past as equally insignificant -- SO WHAT! We are in a flow of good fortune with reliable feelings as our guide.

It's as this stage that inner teachers will likely join our party. We are in tune with their timeless world enough to relate and utilize their insights. We feel the same way about time, history and forecast futures as our inner teachers. Our devotion to the now moment puts our trust in the right place and our sights set where they belong. We are open to learning from what happens, rather than making big productions out of "jumping to conclusions about illusions". As we receive and process this inner education, one more change comes over outlook on life.

Stage Four: Any of us who have found a bounty of comforts, answers, guidance and freedoms within, will find ourselves "living in our consciousness". What comes to our feelings, imagination, inspirations and intuitions is WHAT IS our sense of living fully and awakened. What goes on outside our minds appears real like dreams seem. Yet appearances merely tempt, mislead and distract us unless we regard them as SO WHAT!

When living inside our consciousness, we get a sense of Meister Eckhart's recommendation to "become indifferent". We grasp the significance of the recurring advice in the Christian Gospels: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known". We realize the distinction between mere perceiving and true knowledge that A Course in Miracles emphasized repeatedly.

We may share the Toltec worldview about positions for our assemblage point that Carlos Casteneda introduced to us. We might get the sense to stop indulging, acquire impeccability, display controlled folly, demonstrate sobriety and come from a place of "no pity". With our second attention, we then acquire silent knowledge.

If we were initiates of the classical Greek philosophers (lovers of Sophia- goddess of wisdom) we would have been searching for a way out of Plato's cave where we had been gazing at shadows on the wall thinking that was reality. We would say we had obtained gnosis by knowing what is real in the light of truth and what is an illusion of reality in darkness.

In other words, our inner teachers are archetypal, outside of any particular culture, free to teach us universal truths regardless of our particular frames of reference.


Caught in the middle

Whenever we begin to follow our inner guidance, we will be tormented by those who refute our approach to life. We will notice the dramatic contrasts between our inner teachers and outer instructors. The differences in tone, premise and relatedness speaks volumes to us.

When we're caught in the middle, films and stories about characters sharing our plight will catch our attention and sympathies. We'll identify with the budding artist, social deviant or emerging revolutionary. We recognize the conflicting inclinations, passions and urges. We see wisdom in favoring the inner teacher, trusting the guidance found within and acting on feelings of self respect.

Thirty years ago, Dorothy Maclean, one of the original founders of the Findhorn community, wrote this perspective about her experience with being caught in the middle between an inner and outer voices:
The voice within is soft and loving, of an unbelievable gentleness; the voices without are harsh and strident. The voice within is full of love for you and everything; the voices without are full of concern for the false self, false values, for the things that lower the divinity in man. The voice within speaks with singleness of purpose; the voices without know not what they seek -- first one thing, then another, though all impair the dignity of man. The voice within woos the soul to perfection, the voices without shriek coldly of facts. The voice within holds truth as a kernel to cherish; the voices without twist truth to a mould that will inflate all falseness. The voice within concerns itself with the destiny of all; the voices without are wholly concerned with the advancement of one person ... (pp 31-32, To Hear the Angels Sing - Dorothy Maclean, Lorian Press, 1980)
My first encounter with her book was a doing of my own inner teacher. I happened upon the book, rather than searching for. I discovered it answered my questions like a gift out of nowhere. Maclean's words resonated deeply with me, and still do, in ways that continue to reinforce my collaboration with my inner teacher.

The more we benefit from our inner teachers, the more obvious it becomes that most outer voices are based on fear. We are put in a bad light, pressured unnecessarily and criticized for trusting our inner guidance because people are afraid of our priorities, outlook and decisions. To them, our freedom, confidence and creativity looks dangerous. They cannot handle our outlook on life because it's unfamiliar, unrecognizable and incomprehensible. Until they find and enjoy their inner teachers, those of us already there will be outcasts like the Ugly Ducking, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Jumping Mouse.


Starts with a feeling

When we're on a roll with our inner teachers, it becomes clear that a new understanding starts with a feeling. There are many great ways to feel when embarking on our next little learning adventure. We may be feeling like: "I can do this", "I want to understand this", "I'm wonderfully curious about this", "I can hardly wait to grasp the significance of this" or any of a zillion other good feelings.

Then we imagine the end result. We can see ourselves satisfied and benefiting from the change. We can look forward to the outcome of the adventure with anticipation, excitement and appreciation. We can enjoy the experience before it happens as if it's meant to be, perfect for right now and in line with our life aims.

With this combination of feeling and imagination in mind, learning simply happens. We happen to be motivated to acquire some new resources or search for some information. We may happen to get better questions to dawn on our minds. We will happen to run across some surprising experience which spawns some new insights, inquiries or discoveries.

We get the idea from all this that there is a flow to our learning naturally. Once we are immersed in this stream of continual satisfaction, it becomes clear how to stay in the flow or to derail the process. We can start with a good feeling, or try to learn by feeling worried, pressured and inadequate. We can imagine:
  • how things will go from good to better or from bad to worse,
  • how the world is supporting our exploration or is out to get us
  • how what we want falls into place or how nothing goes our way without a fight
We will then take actions and receive what comes about that all happen to succeed or struggle against the adversity we've imagined which ends up exhausted, defeated and pitiful. Whenever we've dug a pit for ourselves and fallen in it, we can get out instantly by changing our feeling about learning something next. Whenever we are on a roll, we can continue to feel grateful, fascinated and trusting and let what comes about happen in our favor.


Finding our inner teachers

One of the many benefits of mentoring a few people in person -- is how much I'm learning about the apparent difficulties in changing to more effective approaches. Finding an inner teacher does not happen easily when we are out of sorts with ourselves or with others. We find our inner teachers when we feel differently about ourselves and our situations.

  • When we already know what's what and what to do about it, we feel we don't need an inner teacher to tell us anything. When we feel we don't know what this is or what to do about it, we feel how comforting it will be to receive some inner guidance.
  • When we're afraid to find out how we're mistaken, misguided or misreading the situation, we just say "no" to our inner teacher. When we're willing to be shown a different interpretation, definition or diagnosis, we welcome our inner teachers' inputs.
  • When we're an old hand at what we're doing and already know the drill, we make it clear that no inner teacher is called for. When we're discovering our routines are doing more harm than good, wondering how to rethink our approach invites collaborations with our inner teachers.
  • When we're pointing fingers at others for making us unhappy and laying the blame at their feet for doing us wrong, our inner teachers turn their backs on us. When we consider how to take responsibility for creating our unhappiness, our inner teachers start drawing diagrams on our inner whiteboards.
  • When our minds our stormy with torment, anxieties and guilt trips, we drown out any quiet mention of freedom right now from our inner teachers. When our minds are calm seas for clear sailing, our ships come in loaded with inspiring cargo from our inner teachers.
  • When we choose to take one side of the issue, resist the resistance and oppose the opposition, our inner teachers figure now is not the time for a lesson. When we choose to see all sides and many combinations viewpoints, our inner teachers join the team.
  • When we are being objective and figuring out the evidence in no relation to ourselves, our inner teachers go on break. When we're being subjective and exploring how the evidence reflects something about us, answers a question we've had or reveals something more to explore, our inner teachers are rocking our worlds.
In short, when we are facing something familiar, forget getting help within. Whenever facing a fascinating mystery, count on receiving the right amount, kind and timing of attention from within.


A feel for learning

When we're getting instructed, it's unusual to have a good feeling about learning. More often, it feels like we're getting indoctrinated, brainwashed and told what to think. It feels coercive, compromising and overly compliant when we submit to getting instructed. We feel disrespected by getting instructed and have no cause to show respect or act self-respectful when trapped in instructional prisons. We often rebel against this dreadful feeling by morphing into bad kids, rebellious students or party animals.

When we're learning something on our own, we get through the frustrations and feel great about our accomplishments. We feel satisfied with our efforts and gratified by the use we can make of our new skills and knowledge. We will feel like learning more whenever we feel like it. We tune into our feelings and accommodate our fluctuation of moods, motivations and interest levels. We show the world how much more productive a learner we would always be if we constantly learned in the ways we approach our favorite sports, hobbies, people and personal interests.

When we're learning from our inner teacher, we feel deeply grateful. The new understanding we receive makes learning feel like a much-appreciated gift. We open up the new insight that dawned on us with fascination and wonder. We feel amazed, delighted and even more curious as a result of what we get from our inner teachers. We equate learning with freedom to explore, to ask anything and to delve into any realm that fascinates us. We feel blessed, rewarded and validated by going within to get what we need to understand. We cannot help but fall in love with learning when it feels this good.

Once we're acclimated to learning feeling so good, we can trust our feelings implicitly. We will get a feel for what makes us curious, motivates our investigations and satisfies our appetite to understand more. We'll recognize a feeling of disinterest, boredom, or disheartened moods as an indication of "not for us", "not at this time" or "not until we learning something else first". We'll safely guided in the vast realms of possible growth with our highly reliable feel for learning.


Obstacles to relying on inner teachers

While my coming to rely on my own inner teacher came somewhat easily to me, I'm very aware of the difficulty of the challenge for most of us. Our minds function very differently when we are relying on our inner teachers. We feel differently about ourselves, what we've received and who we appear to be educating. Our effects on learners reinforces our connections to our inner teachers and cultivates the same in anyone who deeply learns from us. The obstacles to relying on our inner teachers appear far more vast and interconnected than those that blocked the recent adoption of cell phones, blogging or iPods.

During the past year in this blog, I've considered how the obstacles might be alleviated by the rampant self expression, self-directed (PLE) learning and interactions with RSS subscribers here online. I've wondered if the change to long tail, wikinomic business models could transform conventional schooling by altering employment opportunities for graduates. I've hoped that explosion in the number of people with a "storyteller outlook" could replace the authoritarian delivery of content. None of these possibilities has sustained my optimism.

Meanwhile there is increasing evidence of emergent systemic collapses that could dramatically alter the questions being asked, changes being considered and issues getting explored by most of the population on this planet. Conditions in education, business, services delivery and government that are currently taken for granted -- could be challenged as an unreliable predictor of the near future.

If educators, administrators, business leaders and legislators stop clinging to their current assumptions, many may become pressured to change how their minds function. Large numbers may realize they have not been getting a sense of what to see, say and do from within. Many may come by the right kind of breakdown where they begin to rely on their own inner teachers.

For now, I am going to assume that this scenario will play itself out. I'm not going to dwell on the disruptions that may provoke the change of hearts and minds. Rather I will delineate a change model for leaving the status quo and entering this different state of mind. My mentoring of entrepreneurs for the past two years has familiarized me with these arduous changes intimately. Perhaps a second order change will come about by providing a map that prevents disorientation, panic and wrong turns. Please keep in mind that the map is not the territory and there is no one right answer to comply with. The journey occurs in one's own change of outlook, feelings and mental functioning. What it takes to get to this envisioned destination is unique for each of us and arrives there one mind at a time.


Trusting my feelings

Back in 1986, I was thumbing through a catalog of non credit courses. One listing caught my eye and gave me a wonderful feeling. It was titled "Your Inner Teacher". I took the class and had a profoundly moving experience throughout it. In hindsight, I was making connection with my own inner teacher and getting a feeling for what it is like to have such a resource within me.

Twenty two years later, I'm still learning every day from my inner teacher. What you read in this blog is a small portion of what comes from my inner tutorials. The way I learn is different from making myself become more informed or skillful. This learning occurs naturally by exploring what I feel like learning when I feel like changing my mindt.

When I'm out of touch with my feelings, I'm thinking too much. Work with my inner teacher is canceled until I come back to my senses. When I am over-analyzing everything, I'm acting like I have no inner teacher to rely upon. I am deceiving myself and getting fooled by the world of appearances. My crap detector is not working because it's on shaky ground. This condition persists until I get back in touch with my feelings, self respect and sense of gratitude.

Thinking we don't have inner teachers to rely on is a bunch of crap. Thinking cannot prove whether we do or don't because the teacher only appears when we are not thinking. Feelings rule in the world of the inner teacher. The feelings are wonderful, comforting, reassuring and orienting. There's little doubt left that the inner teacher route is the way to go once we discover how reliable the companion feelings have become.

My inner teacher is endlessly and profoundly generous. Anything I'm wondering about comes back to me as gifts of clarity, maps, frameworks and better questions to ask. All I need to do is ponder something that's perplexing me without jumping to conclusions about it. By hanging out in suspense about what will come, I receive what was missing in my mind or outside world.

This process of wondering and getting answered comes down to how I'm feeling. If I dwell on feeling frustrated, fearful or deprived, my inner teacher shows no sign of interest in me. If I'm feeling expectant, appreciative and fascinated, she shows up with a bounty of gifts. All I have to do is stay with the feelings that bring on the flow of insights and next steps to explore. Falling in love with learning is inevitable when it feels like this and unfolds so wonderfully.


Relying on inner teachers

Yesterday, Pete Reilly wrote: Economic Downturn Spells Trouble for Schools (and ed tech) where he foresees compounding problems with foreclosures, shrinking property values, and declining property tax revenues all impacting funds for public schooling. He adds soaring gasoline prices, declining consumer confidence and the mounting Federal deficit to the troubles being spelled out. He previously explored the alarming turnover statistics of new classroom teachers and the stark contrast with satisfying employment in their subsequent positions.

While I continue looking at this problem, there's several more factors feeding an unstoppable decline:
  • - Declines in public education can increase the crime rate, the imprisonment rate to counteract the crime rate, which then takes away more from spending on public education to build even more prisons.
  • - Declines in public education can weaken the ability of the electorate to choose its leaders insightfully, to reject divisive demagogues, to favor long range thinkers and to insist on collaborative solutions.
  • - Declines in public education can shift the credibility for delivering useful education to the popular culture, provide role models from the entertainment and sports industries, reward a "get a fair deal" morality based on consuming goods and services, and replace literacy with oral/visual modes of communication that are readable by illiterates.
  • - Declines in public education can shift discourse into cyberspace, fuel "Bowling Alone" isolationism, increase "in your face" intolerance during face-to-face encounters and escalate the frequency of "acting out" behaviors from the loss of self control that otherwise emerges from dealing with others' feelings.

In a world where compounding problems like this exist, there must also be compounding solutions. For the past decade I've been wondering if public education will decline into oblivion because it can only be part of the problem. It appears the decline is destiny as these problems compound. Education reforms have appeared as mere first order change since the Civil War ended. The premises of educating students with instructors remains unchanged.

While blogging for the past year on related topics, I've come to the following realizations about the nature of a compounding solution in education:

  1. When we assume each student has an inner teacher within their minds, we will stop interfering with the discovery, cultivation and trust building with that inner teacher. The inner teacher will come to the fore of the students learning experiences and and reconfigure how they picture learning occurring. Problems with a particular learning challenge or patterns of learning efforts will get worked out between the student and the inner teacher who already knows what the underlying problems are.
  2. When we hand over the learning to the students and their inner teachers, there is no more need for putting over-powering, controlling, authoritative and silencing instructors in the learners' faces. The learners can get on with the business of "intrinsic, informal, inner-directed, self motivated, learner centered, empowering, liberated" learning without instructors. Their curiosity will naturally lead the way to what is to be learned next. Their educational experiences will effect them in all the positive ways I explored last year.
  3. When learners feel empowered, validated and respected for "teaching themselves" what they comprehend, they will fall in love with learning. They will experience continually receiving gifts from their inner teacher. They will treasure new questions that arise from every learning endeavor for giving them more to explore. They will welcome new challenges knowing they have the full support of their inner teacher to get through them successfully.
  4. When devoted to what they learn in their reflective practice, the students will have none of the conventional problems with motivation, retention, loss of curiosity, lack of creativity or changing their minds. They will simply work with the results they get to change their approach they take with the insights offered by their inner teacher.
  5. When learning from inner teachers, everything that happens is a lesson. Every incident is showing us something to reconsider because it caught our attention. Whatever we don't appreciate will become something we relate to differently until we treat it with respect and gratitude. Instead of forgetting the facts that were supposed to be memorized, each learner will realize the value, benefit, choice, or freedom in different incidents. Each student will emerge from their ignorance, protective denials and partial comprehension at a perfect time customized to their own increasing readiness.
  6. When in the presence of "gifted students", these former "classroom instructors" will feel more gifted also. They will feel blessed to support the learning of students who do not need to be told what to think. They will relate to their own inner teachers and receive ways to nurture the other learners and themselves in the same process. Chronic problems with burnout and regrettable outbursts among teachers will disappear.
  7. Nurturers of each learner's inner teacher process will realize how each insight anyone receives is gift to be appreciated. They will set-up a gift economy to handle the supply and demand for these gifts among all the learners. Everyone will provide content, questions, challenges and experiments to each other. It will be obvious that everyone has something to give because they have become so good at receiving and making use of what they get out of experiences.
  8. When immersed in learning from everything that happens, people will appear very fascinating to each other. No two people will be the same and offer so much more to explore as their mysterious nature captivates other learners. The process of getting learned about by others-- will give each a feeling of being understood. A context of mutual respect, insight and acceptance will dramatically reduce the urge to get attention, get even or act out frustrations.
  9. When collaborating with others who's learning happens within, the ability to get along with others will occur naturally. Learning starts from the solid ground of being different in a good way. The advice from their own inner teacher will reveal ways to get along with others, learn about them and help them learn about themselves. Problems with pressuring learners to conform, obey, comply and cop-out will vanish.
  10. Job satisfaction for gifted facilitators of inner learning will soar. Each day will deliver new experiences to treasure. Each student will appear as a gift and as gifted. Each process unfolding with the inner teachers will be easy to respect, exciting to nurture and rewarding to facilitate.
These solutions compound themselves ad infinitum. I have much more to explore in this possibility. As a next step, you could look within your consciousness for an inner teacher and discover what she says about this potential reliance on her.


Learning from what happens

Whatever happens was meant to happen, happens for purposes other than our puny self interests. There are no actual accidents, real victims or unintended coincidences -- only convincing appearances of very disconnected incidents. Every happenstance can provide a lesson, revelation or wake up call, if we are inclined to make the connections between the dots. When we're not so inclined, we're too afraid to face the music or change our minds. We're unconsciously opposed to seeing things in light of network effects, systems thinking and cyclical dynamics.

It so happens that nothing occurs in isolation. Everything that happens is the side effect of something else that already happened. Causal explanation miss the point, oversimplify the dynamics and misrepresent the truth. Everything comes back around to haunt us, reward us, show us or change us. There's no escaping the consequences of being here in one way or another, only postponing the repercussions by putting them into denial.

For something to happen, it must be believed in so deeply that it's taken on faith, regarded as a fact of life or considered a done deal without a doubt. If it's something that happened before, it happens again very easily. It's news to be reported, history to be recorded and observable evidence to be studied scientifically. The consensus is grown to expect it again as an unquestionable fact of life.

When something is widely believed to never happen, it never happens to those who believe that. So be it. It can't happen because it's true, proven and convicted that it cannot happen here. There's no getting around that when appearances are taken as what's really going on here realistically.

When appearances are known to be deceiving, things that "never happen" can now happen easily. Everything that happens is getting around what has happened before. History is no predictor of the future and present circumstances give no indication of what can come about. What's really going on here is not perceived by taking appearances literally, reacting to superficial evidence, or categorizing what is obvious.

When we realize anything can really happen, then there's much to be learned from what appears to happen. We can see how we brought about our slice of the total experience by expecting it, intending it or believing it to be a fact of life. We can see what it could be showing us about hidden processes to trust, changes unfolding and dynamics working in our favor. We can take it symbolically like a dream and get a sense of direction, validation, confrontation or wisdom. We can receive new questions to explore, new challenges to face, new experiments to conduct and new resources to utilize. We will feel extremely blessed by what happens to us, regardless of how it looks to others, when we are predisposed to get so much learning from mere happenstance.


High powered crap detectors

It's been said that it's not possible to deceive an honest person. I watched this happen several times last week in my mentoring of entrepreneurs.

We only fall for getting misled when we deceive ourselves about the freedom available when we face the truth. We delude ourselves into thinking we can rely on appearances, fears and reactions to assess what shows up. We kid ourselves that we are mortals who's lives end when our bodies die. We assume we have no other information sources besides when we get outside our bodies. When we get into this delusional condition, we are easily deceived.

Crap detectors only function on solid ground. Our self respect must be unshakeable to discern what is the honest truth. We need to know things about ourselves that no one has told us to our eyes and ears, but rather truths we found within. When we know better than to react to appearances with our fears, we're in a position to detect crap and truth.

We may be operating our crap detector and not realize it. We may be surrounded by so many false ambitions, identities and assertions -- that our crap detectors work non-stop. With nothing but scams, masks and hype to sort out, we see nothing to trust, respect, value or internalize. It's not until some truth comes along that we realize we are in good standing. We see a real deal among the looming betrayals. We recognize an authentic being among scam artists. We discern an honest offer from the field of rip-offs.

Once we can detect crap and the honest truth, we are out of the woods and in the clearing from fear. We no longer need to be afraid of getting deceived because we've stopped kidding ourselves. We no longer trust the advice our fears give us about how to react against, counter attack or contradict the claims. We can dismiss the crap easily and remain confident in what's not being said, shown or revealed. We trust what feels the same as our authentic self respect. We realize why it's not possible to deceive an honest person. We are that person.