Tag Archives: Freeing Creative Effectiveness

“Get the bad guy” is now proven an obsolete idea

World problems now can be solved only by Psychotechnology.

It has now gotten to the point of complexity and intertwinement that any legislated change will at best reduce suffering, but will not stop the endless violence and sadness. Change from the outside can be effective when individual populations being governed are small and separate enough so that tribal leader-level intellect (after all these centuries, what we still have at the top in most cases) is capable of dealing with the communities’ woes effectively.

Once populations enlarge and start to bump up against each other, as we have seen for the last 6000 years, the tribal leaders go to war that then lasts forever — at least so far. A few years ago there was a story in The New York Times that proclaimed war may be over, apparently because we seemed to be content maiming each other in more limited conflicts (fewer than a kilodeath per annum, the Times specified as the hip definition of “war”). But this is just wordsmanship. Sure, nukes and thermonukes and germ warfare are a reasonable deterrent even for the present human race to “get it” and try to keep the killing down to subcritical mass. But war by any other manifestation — terrorism for example — still results in many deaths, especially when the US, in order to fight back at all, so far can only think of ways of doing it that still escalate deaths on all sides, though at least reducing the powers of people that do in fact need to be contained or changed.

This will go on until the present human race bootstraps itself to a higher level of mental/emotional functioning. No other class of solution can touch this root problem: human beings believe they are separate islands of consciousness. This is an identity crisis of the highest order.

Therefore when one kills another, he/she does not realize that it is a self-inflicted wound to the overconsciousness, The One that sustains us all by being the spark of selfness each of us takes to be “me”. Each of us is in fact an avatar of the One Consciousness. S/HE is living through each of us. We are HIM/HER and most of us do not realize it. It is S/HE that is looking out your eyes and taking your experiences to belong to you the humanoid, feeling your selfness. (Please see the prior post for the development of this hypothesis.*)

Criminals, terrorists and tyrants are the way the overconsciousness has decided to behave in that instance of HIM/HER. Especially horrifying experiences when growing up will have that effect upon consciousness, especially during Acceleritis™. In a more information-balanced environment, individuals growing up with cruel parents (the latter having been children with their own horrors), for example, would stand a better chance of untangling their own mental/emotional knots within fewer decades.

Free will in itself could perhaps explain the human race in its present state, but Acceleritis helps explain how it has gotten to such a point that it seems like satire.

It’s time to make a world resolution to lift ourselves by our bootstraps into bigger people — bigger hearted, bigger in wisdom, bigger in ways that count — to be mensches all the time.

Among other things, this entails not blaming the other guy. It’s time to give up the practice of perceiving bad guys to go hunt and kill. We might still hunt and kill them if that’s really the optimal short term solution. (This is a testable hypothesis, via controlled military experiments, for example comparing drones in one zone vs. psychotechnology and communication in the other zone). But we cannot go on thinking of them as “bad guys”. They are the way the Universal Self (“US”) acts in that experiential petri dish. We might find that taking them out is the most humane solution for all, or we might find that if we treat them like mirror selves we might actually be able to reach accommodation with one another.

There is no way out other than this. Without taking the next evolutionary step — enlightenment for the masses, homo completus, change from the inside — violence will go on forever, made worse by even worse weapons yet to be invented but which surely will be invented.

We are forced at gunpoint — thinking of our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond — to confront our self. That self is actually The One Self, in my theory. What we take to be our own consciousness is actually one personality aspect of the One Consciousness. We are stitched into the universe, not isolated conscious players within an “Infinite Unconscious Dead Chaos That Is Accidentally Ordering Itself.” We are part of the One Universe, and it is more conscious than we are, in our present step along our evolutionary trajectory back into total awareness. (Dear reader, I know you will tire of my constantly reminding us that these are mere hypotheses within an unproven theory, so let’s hereby establish this as a given.)

This being the first mention of God in today’s post, let’s stop for a second and look at the use of that word. I am of course not speaking of an old man with a beard sitting on a throne. I’ve taken one more logical step in the progression. If we are all within One Consciousness, this does not automatically equate the One Consciousness with what we think of as God.The Human Effectiveness Institute is looking around for a prison somewhere that wants 300 copies of our book for free, under certain conditions: it’s got to be used in an experiment to observe what actually happens when prisoners are treated as “God Gone Wrong”, not as “Bad Guys”. In fact, an atheist is more likely to consider the Theory of the Conscious Universe if that final association is not made, and the logic is left to end there. Why then further postulate that the One Consciousness of the universe is God?  The universe being conscious is itself a plausible scientific thought, given that we observe consciousness exists within patches of the universe known as human beings, so it is only a small leap to postulate that consciousness is everywhere throughout the universe. Why then undermine that scientific thought with one that has for centuries attracted such disapproval from so many materialist scientists, the thought of God?

The reason is that before I researched ways of supporting or improving my theory with latest science, what I had was a strong hunch — an intuition — that we are all God. I had been an atheist until that point, at age 12, when the idea hit me like a bolt out of the blue. Somehow I felt it to be true inside that I was God, and so was everybody else. Over the next 20 years I developed a theory around the idea and today am still in the process of supporting that theory with latest science.

So I can’t in good faith dodge the issue of God, in hopes that it would make my theory more palatable. It would also be dishonest. Knowing that this theory could offend both atheists and true believers in any specific religion, and not wanting to offend, I still feel the calling to spell out this worldview as a possibility. I find that it leads to creative solutions, and so it might simply be a useful fiction. Game theory would suggest following the worldview as a lens for its utility, without necessarily assuming it to be true.

But back to the jail experiment for a moment.

Flashforward: There’s Bill Harvey in the courtyard, a mic in his hand, interacting with the prisoners. (Flashback to 5-year-old Billy on the Brickman stage doing stand-up with his pop.) Back in the prison, we listen in…

Think about it. Let’s say you are God, hanging out alone, surrounded by nothing. After a while, just hanging out can get boring. You start to spend time thinking. You think about what your options are. You’re going to have to create something, so as to have something fun and interesting to do. Your imagination runs wild — you have visions of all kinds of stuff — you imagine having stars, planets, living beings, beings that have consciousness the way you do — in fact you know that what you are is consciousness.

How are you going to create something more concrete than your imagination? What do you have “at hand” to make anything out of?

Yourself. You have nothing else but yourself. Nothing else exists. You have to use some of yourself as the material if you are going to create anything.

Fortunately, consciousness is the perfect stuff out of which to do that. Let’s say you’re God, and you’re made out of putty. When you come to the decision of creating, and all you have is putty, it’s going to be a pretty boring universe. There are only so many things you can make out of putty. On the other hand, out of consciousness you can make anything. Why is that? Because consciousness itself is made up of information, and information is infinitely fungible, infinitely esemplastic. (Okay, big words for some prisoners — I’ll leave them out when the day comes.) You can make anything out of consciousness, and the really good news is that it all feeds back experientially to the One, to The Progenitor. Because it is consciousness, it comes along with selfness. There really is only one Self. That Self is playing with, and inhabiting, GI Joe and Barbie dolls — that’s who we are.

With the new way of thinking about themselves as an instance of God experimenting with life in a body, and the psychotechnology techniques in MIND MAGIC helping them to deal better with their own anger, fear and despair, the hypothesis is that an increased percentage of prisoners will rehabilitate as compared with norms. In the 1960s, the Leary-Alpert experiment at the prison in Concord, MA halved the recidivism rate. The main intervention in that experiment was LSD, but prison officials said the LSD had nothing to do with it, but rather, “If you shower so much attention on them before and after they are released, of course that would reduce the return rate.” (As reported in The Harvard Psychedelic Club, Don Lattin, HarperOne, 2011.) If these prison officials are right that the efficacy was due simply to the Hawthorne Effect as it is called, then surely our book and lecture series in prisons should have the same effect.

Rather than disparaging such interventions, if the Concord Prison officials are right and all that is needed is a little more personal attention of any kind, then why not give it to them? The book in fact has already been proven to have some positive effect on some prisoners: John Bowie, a convicted murderer, read our book and was changed by it. He repented of his crime and became a model prisoner, someone to whom other prisoners would turn for fatherly advice.

Jumpshift out of the prison to the world stage. Terrorists deserve being reached out to one more time, the extra chance justified because now there is a new communication strategy. We “get it” that they are God too and it appears to them the right thing to do to be blowing up children. We address their assumptions, which to them are compelling:

  1. They believe that God wants them to be doing this.
  2. Their other perceived life choices are uninteresting and unpromising.
  3. They are angry at being treated as backward people.
  4. They are in a support group where they feel a sense of belonging, and their needs are taken care of, including spiritual needs as well as physical ones.
  5. They are sure they will live after death — in this they are right.

The most difficult parts of the communication will be on the touchy subject of religion A vs. religion B. Actually in terms of Islam specifically (not that all terrorists are Muslim), many of the things we want to talk to them about, they are somewhat familiar with. The Great Jihad is work on oneself to be a better human being — I call it psychotechnology — it’s actually the very selfsame thing. We would do well to quote the Quran in support of whatever points it supports in the Institute’s psychotechnology, as we reach out and try one more time to communicate, this time on a spiritual level as well as a moral, scientific, social, and practical one.

What I am proposing here is that we begin to experiment not only in prisons but also in the very prisons where we are containing terrorists. These humane experiments will be intended to help, not use, the prisoners. The test is to see if there are signs that we have in fact helped. The ultimate objective would be to release model prisoners back into their communities as a further viral experiment in the spreading of positive memes. You might say, “A noble idea, but it’s hard to imagine these terrorists being willing to participate.” We would agree it is an ambitious hypothesis — but one worth trying, given that the problem has to be solved, and so far all we are achieving is a degree of containment, at a grave cost in lives. We therefore, I would argue, have to try everything that has even a slight chance of succeeding to any significant degree.

Jumpshift to our own lives. In my vision of you, a few of my words in these posts have resonated with thoughts and feelings you have always had. Take your own best thoughts and feelings to heart and act them out at all times, you become your highest self in every moment. You treat others as you would want them to treat you. You stop seeing bad guys and instead of getting mad when your boss craps on you, you smile when you think “Well if crazy Bill is right you’re God too, so that’s me in there making these stupid offensive remarks.”

Republicans and Democrats are God too. May we finally all grow up and stop spending our time blaming when we have reality challenges that urgently need our attention instead. We need solutions not blame. Let’s resolve to find ways for all of us to develop solutions together — now, today.

We offer suggested watchwords — Clarity, Unity, Rationality, and Love — the mnemonic being CURL.

My Best to All,


*I now realize, after years of merely having an intuition, that this hypothesis is today scientifically grounded in John Wheeler’s identification of information as the most real underpinning of the tangible universe. Wheeler did not take the next step of explicitly connecting information to consciousness. I will have to take the credit or blame for that, one day when the Theory of the Conscious Universe (TOTCU), is ultimately proven or disproven. The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That, released in 2014.

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

The Alchemy of Transmuting Feelings into Right Action

Originally posted December 22, 2911

Experiments you can perform best when alone, such as in shower or tub

Full disclosure: I am an interested party — these experiments will tend to confirm my speculations and hypothesis — and help prove my theories.

On the other hand, you stand to gain a great deal. Your decision making can be made more creative and more effective — by judo-ing your own negative emotions so that they stop hurting you and start helping you.

You have free will — theoretically. That freedom is constrained by conditioning that governs you more than you perhaps realize. Acceleritis™ and attachment, as explained in a prior post, interfere with your free will and come to dominate your decision making, and your internal life. These aspects of your consciousness, when seen from another dimension, are the same as the material neuron clusters in your brain where experiences you’ve had whose learning has yet to be fully assimilated are stored. These neuron clusters fire frequently in cascades, triggered by negative emotion, caused by events hostile to your desires.

The firing of these habitual patterns is inimical to free will, creativity, and therefore effectiveness. They blunt the genius of your mind. When you can surmount these patterns you enter Observer state and ultimately Flow state. You take right action emanating from wisdom, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness. In Flow it is effortless given the state of your brain phenomenology at those times.

Bad feelings can actually help you get there. You just have to flip them on their side. No magic involved or hard concentration. Just the opposite — maximum relaxation of everything. Once the body is relaxed in as many ways as possible, then you relax the mind and emotions in as many ways as possible.

First we’ll briefly summarize the steps in the experiment, then we’ll explain each step in more detail.


After you are as relaxed as there’s time for, you inspect your own feelings of the moment — of this whole time period of your life, not just how you feel in the present interlude.

You then check out how you feel about those feelings, and the desires that drive them. Is this a want you want to want? Did one of your parents give this want to you, or a teacher or friend? Where did it come from?

You will experimentally check to see whether you can actually simulate giving up all of it. You’ll see how that feels. You may have moments of great freedom and a sense of great love. If not, it will happen in a later pass over the same ground. The first experiment starts its own process that you individualize over time. Obviously, you only continue if you’ve gotten something out of it.

You’ll take notes of your current deep priorities in life, and action items.

Tips on each step

I.   Relaxation

Jacuzzi, tub, shower, pool, getting a massage, sauna, steam room, treadmill, stationary bike, taking a walk, before sleep in bed, in a comfortable position on a recliner, you name it, whatever, just so your body is as happy and relaxed as it can be at that moment.

Make sure you aren’t holding tightness anywhere in your body. Feel from the inside each part of your body, one part at a time, to make sure each part is relaxed. Breathe deeply and slowly, in and out, all the way down into the belly. Imagine the air going everywhere, not just the lungs — into your head, imagine it as sparkly, expanding and contracting galaxies of stars.

If you are carrying on an interior dialog, listen to what you are saying. Is the self-talk relaxed? By an act of will, seek to relax your mind. Truncate words before they form or as they form, fade them out in midstream. Keep doing this.

Feelings will probably now be more noticeable. What are the feelings you are having?

II.   How do I feel in my life now?

There will probably be a cluster of feelings. You will be able to articulate a few different words that come close to explaining to yourself how you are feeling mentally/emotionally because of or despite the relative comfort of your body. Your mind and/or emotions may not be relaxed. They may even be agitated despite your physical comfort. Or you may be having a good time.

If you’re not having a good time yet, ask yourself why. What are the causes, the incidents. What desired end state of yours is being thwarted?

III.   Do I want to feel that way?

Once you know how you feel, and what desire of yours is threatened, ask yourself where that desire came from, and if you want to still keep it.

If you still value the desired thing, and want to continue to strive for it, then it is a Priority, and you move to the next step. If you’re not so sure it’s worth it, and you are willing to contemplate giving up the desired thing, picture the life you’d like to live in the future with that desire out of the picture, and see if you can imagine that life will be fulfilling anyway. What would you do instead?

If you can live without striving for that desire, then give it up. The fewer conditions you place on outcomes in your life, the greater your chance for happiness. Many great sages and saints renounced all worldly desires and other-worldly desires too, and lived in joy and love. This is the permanent Flow state, where the human race is heading in terms of evolution.

You might, either in the success of your imagination or by a rare life shift, experience a sense of omnidirectional love that occurs when attachments are turned off even if only temporarily (see explanation in a previous post).

If you do experience this wonderful feeling, take advantage of it by seeking out your loved ones and sharing yourself with them as you will then be feeling, in flow state and in love with life.

IV.   Priorities

You will have a pen and paper close by, which at some point you’ll find yourself using to jot notes of learnings, action points, and a ranking of your Priorities.

V.    Action Plans

These will tend to spring into your mind effortlessly. In fact the main way you will capture them is by paying closer attention to what is happening inside you — feelings, hunches, images, words — by looking at it all as if for the first time, taking nothing for granted, being curious, and being willing to state the obvious to yourself.

Under the yoke of Acceleritis, we are afraid to sound stupid, afraid to waste other people’s time by seeming stupid, and so we act that way even to ourselves. This makes us unwilling to state the obvious to ourselves, and yet only by being willing to re-examine everything, even the seemingly obvious, do you penetrate the rush of Acceleritis. Only then do all the parts of your self focus attention together on a particular something. (Read more about my Acceleritis theory.)

Stating the obvious to yourself in notes that get written down and looked at later begins to push back against the tide of Acceleritis.

My Best to all,


Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Can Creativity Be Induced?

Volume 3, Issue 38

Waves booming, the expletives of gulls as they glide like white boomerangs buzzing us, scouting for handouts. I’m sitting with Lalita at breakfast on the terrace at the Malibu Beach Inn, reading The New York Times and I come across a book review reprinted from the Financial Times of London of the new book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas by David Burkus.

According to Burkus, taking the review at face value, Plato and the other dons of antiquity were deluded and superstitious in believing that creativity was conferred only on certain humans and that moments of inspiration were given to them by the gods; that even today the popular notion that an “Aha!” moment exists is foolishness, and that creativity really comes down to hard work by large numbers of people working together to generate “creative ideas”. To which my first thought is “Why does it have to be one way and not the other, why can’t there be some truth in all of these ideas?”

The author reportedly goes on to point out that the efforts by organizations to instill increased creativity often backfire, instead causing people to conform so as to belong to a new groupthink where they hold back ideas that they fear would rile the comfort of the tribe and thus cause themselves to become treated like outsiders. This part also has the ring of some truth in it, as I’ve been in such situations, though found myself and a few others quite willing to bear the risk of contrarian creativity.

The book deserves to be read before coming to any conclusions about it, and it surely provokes useful thought if even its review does so. Yet all books that take seeming black and white positions from the title forward would in my estimation have low likelihood of portraying the complexity of the real world as it exists. I will apologize in this space if after reading it I must eat those words, for the review is not the book, the map is not the territory, as S.I. Hayakawa liked to say.

In my practice both at Bill Harvey Consulting and at The Human Effectiveness Institute I’ve often been asked to lead workshops aimed at increasing individual and group creativity and performance. My book Mind Magic is specifically tasked at doing that, and one edition of the book was even experimentally titled Freeing Creative Effectiveness. So as you can see I have a dog in this race, and a potential axe to grind.   😀

Can I prove that I’ve ever induced creativity by a book or workshop or any other means? Alas, no scientific proof yet (we’ll do A/B testing at some point), although anecdotal circumstantial evidence abounds in thousands of letters from readers, including this review from Dan Goleman:

“Highly recommended… will loosen your moorings and open you to creative vistas.” — Dr. Daniel Goleman

Science of course considers individual reports subject to placebo effect and various other biases including the desire to be nice.

In group work, there have been similarly non-definitive measurements. When Richard Zackon and I did an ARF creativity workshop last year it got good scores from the participants and many nice emails. Several people even followed up with telephone consultations. And beyond kind words there has been evidence that one day’s worth of a creativity-inducing workshop has had major positive effect on the directions that leaders of major companies took soon afterward.

I was amazed at the creativity I found in high-ranking officers of two different military branches during workshops I led. In one war game I created, a female officer in charge of a powerful group of units took the bait of my scenario to find a solution even more creative than the one I was going to reveal at the end had nobody thought of it.

The placebo effect and its counterpart in groups, the Hawthorne Effect, suggest that false effects can be caused simply by paying special attention to people. And yet why call these effects “false”? If one can remove pain with salt water and the powers of the subconscious why not use it? If one can cause creative behavior with hand waving, why not take all you can get?

Coming back to the Myth of Creativity book, one of its conclusions ascribed by the review is that creativity is best fostered in organizations where it is challenged. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and compressing a spring or irritating an oyster analogies do apply to inducing creativity. I used to tell my team at a certain large agency that the repressive conduct of my boss at the time was an opportunity to be “creative within constraints”.

At the aforementioned ARF creativity workshop, we had the participants anonymously hand in ratings of their own organization on a ten-point scale of creativity repressiveness and siloed confusion. The range of scores we received covered practically the entire range from zero to ten. Take a look at your own organization and see what score you would give it.  🙂

Other than distributing our book and video to your team or doing our workshop, or doing similarly with other interveners from outside the organization, what else can you do? Guard against simulated creativity-inducing exercises, which can backfire. Give people autonomy within the bounds you feel each is equipped to handle and then give a bit more. Give people permission to try new things even if they might fail. When someone screws up, be kind yet honest. Don’t just simulate that, be authentic. Check the effect on target to be sure you’re not kidding yourself to make yourself feel good when you might have actually crushed them.

One way I found it easy to get bollixed organizations to be more creative is to interview the employees and get their creative ideas and then feed those ideas to the top person who can then take credit. That person was always the bottleneck and would only act on creative ideas if he/she could take credit for them. Before the intervention, good ideas had come up in meetings and been shot down, and months had passed until the top person was able to forget that the idea had been mentioned before, then putting it in new garb and “inventing” it as his/her idea. Thus the organization lurched forward, driven by organizational creativity with a delay cycle equal to how long it took the top person’s ego to forget and reinvent.

The notion that the “Aha!” moment is a fiction strikes me as funny. I have had this experience all my life, of ideas putting themselves together in a flash. Carl Jung and William James and many others define the intuition as the mind’s way of suddenly making logical connections among bits of information lying around. Saying that this process does not exist is amusing. Daniel Goleman’s description of the way the brain works at these moments would seem to add further veracity to the existence of “Aha!” moments in fact.

As to Plato’s being superstitious in considering that inspiration can come from levels above human consciousness, please see my new book when it comes out, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, which postulates that all observed phenomena including the paranormal and religious can be accounted for by my Theory of the Conscious Universe, in which we are all one Self living through many avatars, one biocomputer server networked to many clients. In that picture of reality, Plato could easily have been right.

Best to all,


Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

Fun Was Had at the ARF Creativity Playshop

Volume 2, Issue 28

Of course I had fun. I always have fun presenting and this was so experimental — imagine media researchers, at least one copywriter, and other marketing people meditating together as part of an industry event — I felt like a kid again. Co-presenter and Playshop co-creator Richard Zackon and I alternated in sharing research findings on the creative process and suggesting best practices as well as offering various experiential exercises. Professional coach Jane Harris supported the fun as well, at one point pulling a rabbit out of a hat and at another getting everybody to wear clown noses. The ARF was generous with its refreshments and support as well as participation by Don Gloeckler, Don Sexton, Horst Stipp, and interns Danielle Hemsley and Raphaela Hodgdon. The feedback sheet Richard passed around was responded to by 16 of the 18 participants, with high ratings for presenters, content, and fun, which got the highest rating.

Did we make a difference in terms of their creativity? Time will tell. There are free follow-up sessions and a post-questionnaire yet to come, which may give us some early indication of any increase in creativity, performance, and/or satisfaction. We’re also sending out, free, the book + DVD kit the Human Effectiveness Institute offers as a 60-day course in Creative Effectiveness.

We were happy to see that important companies sent their people to a creativity intensive, one of the largest media companies sending four people. A top car company sent someone whose nametag I hadn’t noticed — I was happily surprised to find this out the next day in a meeting with that company.

I’m also happily surprised to see that the ANA is now offering a creativity workshop. This is a terrific sign. As Richard pointed out early in the four-hour session on October 3, IBM in a 2010 global survey of CEOs, found that creativity was selected as the most crucial factor for future success.

Xyte, a self-administered online questionnaire that sheds intense clarifying light into the way one thinks — which of 16 types of thinker one is — was made available free, courtesy of Gerry Klodt and Linda McIsaac of Xyte. One participant who found it revealed her to herself in a way that was “spot on” asked for and received the two extra free passes we had been given to access Xyte, for members of her team.

The participants were given many methods to stimulate their own creativity and to look at old problems in new ways. Someone asked how to retain singlepointed focus while necessarily multitasking and was given the method of staying focused through complexity, rotating the concentration among the incoming data streams. This is described in greater detail in Chapter 7 of our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness. A few heads nodded knowingly (Don Sexton’s was one of them) at another point when I mentioned using a notepad to take down side ideas that arise while you are focused on one specific task, so the mind does not feel these ideas tugging one.

During the final exercise the participants generated many creative ideas of their own around social media, including a fascinating schematic by Don Gloeckler that could become the framework for studying the diffusion of memes through the population.

Don Sexton objected at one point when I was characterizing stress as being the enemy of the Zone (Flow State), the state of highest creativity that we were aiming at by route of the Observer State. He and I agreed that stress could produce the phenomenon of “little old ladies” suddenly able to carry large heavy men out of burning buildings. It was a moment to remind ourselves that the principles being passed along in the training were none of them black-and-white absolute rules but needed to be balanced against each other customized for every situation. At an earlier point I had cautioned that anything we said should not be applied so absolutely as to become the next block to creativity.

After the session it occurred to me that I should have said we would never have burned down the building just to get the “little old lady” into the Zone for a few minutes, although the experience might lead her to more constant Flow state capability — the cost of the building and perhaps other lives would have been grotesquely too high. So there has to always be a tradeoff between the good of the Flow state and the cost involved — courses like these being a better way to approach Flow maximization than artificially creating stress situations. (For the record, the OSS and many contemporary military and paramilitary organizations did/do in fact purposely create stress in order to gain expected benefits in the performance of individuals.)

Hopefully HR leaders at major companies will take us up on our offer to take this Playshop on the road. The Playshop could be used as part of a management offsite, extending the current Playshop into a fully customized wargame focused on the future of the specific company involved. Having created and led one such wargame recently with high-level U.S. military officers focused on long-range planning, and conducted scenario stimulation with top managements of many advertisers, media and agencies, this is the part that could afford participants and their companies the most benefit. The Playshop at ARF by its nature of having many companies in one room could not delve into confidential matters pertaining to one company. Skills could be sharpened but the focus of these skills on close-to-home opportunities and challenges could not happen in such an event. Companies that take us up on the offer to go in for more customized Playshops can begin creating their company’s future with the shackles taken off of thinking.

Best to all,


The Importance of Observer State in Relation to the Zone

Volume 2, Issue 17

We all love to see people performing in the Zone. The Olympics is only one of the more obvious proofs of this. Actors, musicians, singers, athletes — these people are the focus of a large proportion of our time spent in conversation, especially athletes. We tacitly assume it’s just because we’re interested in the sport, or want to dream about having the kind of life they have, and there’s truth to all that — but some unsuspected portion of our interest has to do with an unconscious desire to be in the Zone, the Flow state, ourselves.

The superheroes in cartoons and movies are another manifestation of our ancient dream. Deep down inside we know we have secret powers that come out when we least expect them and are gone in a flash. Or they surface when we face the severest challenges of our lives. Old women are suddenly briefly able to carry people to safety. Within the Flow state are levels that provably increase “psychic powers” as measured by the Rhine card method. Because the Flow state is so dramatic and amazing, we have focused on heuristics to attain and maintain Flow as the prelude to a serious discussion of the Observer state. Now it’s time to turn our attention for a while to the Observer state. Why? Observer state is the precondition for Flow. It’s also a thousand times easier to get into Observer state, which brings with it a highly significant increase in creative effectiveness and a sharp reduction in emotional suffering.

The purpose of our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness is to provide ways of thinking and openness to perceptual information, hunches, and feelings that make it easy and effortless to thereafter slip into Observer state. Our premise is that more Flow state experiences will be created this way than by trying to help people get directly into the Flow state.

Here’s how you will know when you are in the Observer state:

  • You’ll detect an internal mental toughness that makes you demand proof from yourself about the thoughts you are having, and you find yourself being honest with yourself.
  • You’ve engaged your fatalism and whatever you would normally be afraid of losing you are now prepared to deal with, regardless of what happens.
  • Your attention is highly focused and you are too calm to be distractible.

You might find it interesting and useful to keep notes of times you catch yourself in this state, and times when you are brought down from this state (“triggered” as my great new friend Dr. Phillip Romero would say) into what I call Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), where you are joylessly trying to keep up with tasks in an atmosphere subconsciously charged with dread of failure.

As longtime readers have detected, most of my posts are about how to move from EOP to Observer and Flow states (“the Zone”). Indeed, this is the aim of my life and the purpose of the Human Effectiveness Institute.

Hope you are all keeping cool in the current weather wherever you are.

Best to all,


Finding That Hidden Switch Inside

Sensible procedures for quickly returning to your best self

This blog aims to provide a new psychotechnology for maximizing human performance and happiness, derived from a synthesis of the author’s experience and the relevant findings of science both modern and ancient. The construct posits three levels of waking consciousness:

  1. Flow state — the most desirable state in terms of performance and happiness, where things happen perfectly and one feels a seamless part of everything. A non-ordinary, altered state of consciousness that occurs when you are totally immersed in and merged with an activity you have practiced well and you have simultaneously given up caring whether you win or lose, rising above all negativity and all of your usual ordinary concerns. Action just happens without hesitation, like a child at play.
  2. Observer state — the second most desirable state, in which your attention misses very little of what is going on inside you and around you. The access window to Flow, this state is a form of meditation/contemplation that requires no closing of eyes or immobility, but does require self-honesty/objectivity and paying very close attention both inside and outside.
  3. EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure) — the typical state of the overwhelming majority of human beings today, from which individuals spring infrequently into the higher states in rare moments of clarity and nobility. In EOP there is always a background dilemma, a sense of incompleteness, of wanting and being attached to something that you may or may not get.

In my theory the EOP state is not the natural state of the species but arises from a multi-millennial delay in integrating our evolutionarily most recent brain part, the cortex. Like children handed loaded machineguns, with our newfound inventiveness running amok, our weapons-centric culture has handed control of the planet to those who possess the most powerful weapons, and now through proxies they control everything else as well. This has been true since earliest recorded history. In fact the invention of written language appears to have been the catalyst for the only culture we know, which has made information overload and distraction the way we spend our days, separation our hidden assumption, and EOP our state of being.

Yet every philosopher worthy of such designation has explained that we need not live this way. Each in his/her own way has explained how to peel away the tarnished layer of the outer accidental self to find the pure inner self that exists always, despite whatever culture we find ourselves in. Collective wisdom and understanding from philosophy, theology, science and commonsense proverbs have always existed as a form of primitive psychotechnology. “Primitive” because the whole problem has never been clearly defined. Therefore the solutions have always been merely rote methods that work for reasons beyond the understanding of even those who practice and teach them.

I’ve spent my lifetime trying to figure out the things that spontaneously propelled me into the higher states, having first experienced Flow when performing onstage as a child, being part of a show business family. Over the years, working at it daily, I’ve discovered procedures that help me stay in the higher states more of the time. I rediscovered many of the same procedures that others before me have rediscovered. There are few among us who themselves have not discovered some of this — each of us has come upon some of these truths of how to be one’s highest self. Like me, most people strive to be the best they can be, often without even knowing they are doing this, nor explaining it to themselves in any philosophical or otherwise reasoned way.

Years back I founded The Human Effectiveness Institute to share these procedures, the ones that work for me and for 3000 or so readers of the first edition of what is today the book Freeing Creative Effectiveness — all reporting (unsolicited) positive results. The Institute also exists to understand the underlying scientific mechanisms, i.e. why these psychotechnological procedures work to elevate the mind into the higher states. In an earlier post I provided hypotheses drawn from my theory as to which brain parts are involved in each of the three states of waking consciousness. These hypotheses are the starting point toward making psychotechnology more of a science than an art. Today it is an art more than a science — or a soft science in contrast with the highly-regarded hard sciences.

In the rest of this post we’ll focus on what to do when you find you are not in your best place — and how to get back to your best self as quickly as possible. We’ll divide this into two short sections: (1) the first time you do this, and a few times a week after that, when you can grab an oasis of alone space to check in on your self, and (2) on an ongoing moment-to-moment basis.

The first time, and in alone spaces after that

First, how do you know you’re not in your best self? That part is easy, here are the symptoms: you’re not happy, something is bothering you and you may not even know what it is. You are making mistakes and making things worse. There is a loop going around in your head telling you so many different things about you and your life that you don’t like — you don’t know where to start and you feel defeated before you start. Those conditions are the clue to quickly find that hidden switch in your head.

The practical, sensible procedure when you are having this kind of experience, the first time it happens from now on, is:

  1. You need to be alone for awhile.
  2. You need to let your mind dump the problem statement and whatever solution idea fragments it may have by simply transcribing — taking dictation from your mind, in the form of incoherent notes or however they spill out when you are not trying to make them read well for other people.
  3. Note how much you care about — are dependent upon — certain attachments, as if you are an outside observer watching yourself as a scientific subject. Note how many of these attachments are ignoble things — like envy, jealousy, pride, vanity — that you would rather not see in yourself. Consider what you might do with your life if you gave up caring so much about these specific things or about any specific things. Being looked up to, having more money, whatever forms your attachments take.
  4. Give it all up. Even if you are just pretending, or experimenting — picture and feel that you are tired of it all, and you don’t want these things any more. You are not dependent on anything or anyone. Whatever happens, you will be strong enough to start from scratch and be creative and make decisions to flow with whatever reality deals you. Vividly envision losing it all, and being tough enough to withstand that loss.

One piece of psychotechnology common to many Buddhist and Hindu traditions is to meditate on a corpse in order to eventually lose all horror about it — a common practice also for doctors and nurses. This illustrates the psychological principle at work: it is possible to get used to anything, to the idea of losing anything, given enough time and mental practice. It doesn’t happen overnight in most cases, although sometimes it does.

Will life be worth living, you might ask, if you stop caring about all the things and people to which and to whom you are now attached? You don’t have to stop caring — you can still love people and things even more — it’s just that you are becoming fatalistic and accepting of whatever might happen that would cause you to lose these people and things.

In the moment, in the midst of action

Any time you notice you are not in your best self — making mistakes, losing your temper, feeling lousy or scared, whatever it is — re-set your mind by erasing everything. “Clear the mechanism” as Kevin Costner’s character says to himself in the movie “Love of the Game” (a film that shows what Flow state feels like to a baseball pitcher, as Bob DeSena points out).

Assume that any sense of dilemma is a lack of clarity, that if you were thinking straight you would be accepting what is and dealing with it without negative emotion, just with pure effectiveness. The one thing you want is to take whatever life hands you and deal with it most effectively, and anything short of that is rejected out of your mind and body instantly.

At first you will find yourself re-setting again and again as you slip back into the old time-worn ways of mental hand-wringing, but over time your mental muscles will toughen up. Just stick with it and you will become indomitable.

I know that many of my readers have already been practicing this for a long time, and this post may seem elementary to you, though the review can’t hurt. Since our aim is to always widen our audience to reach as many people as possible, we will sometimes return to basics.

Wishing you Flow and Observer filled days.

Best to all,