A conversation about the Three Principles with Michael Neill, internationally renowned success coach, best-selling author and all-round being of awesomeness. He has spent decades as a coach, advisor and friend to celebrities, CEOs, royalty, and people who want to get more out of their lives.
So, the plan was to record the hour long interview that Michael kindly granted the Three Principles Blog and yep, you guessed it… epic tech fail… nothing was recorded. I’ve done my best to capture as much of our conversation as accurately and faithfully as I can but please accept my huge apologies that you won’t be getting the full measure of the magic that is Michael.
How do you see the Three Principles as being different to how you used to work?
Michael: This may seem a strange metaphor, but I used to think of myself as a preacher in search of a gospel. I knew I was really good at getting a message across, but I was always looking for a better message. So at first, when I came across the principles, I thought I’d found my “gospel” – but then I realized what I’d really found was the source of gospels. So instead of preaching great ideas, we’re pointing to fundamental truths. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lot less “preachy” and a lot more useful. There is a deeper intelligence and energy behind life. We experience it via thought and we’re aware of it through consciousness. That’s it. What you do with those truths is entirely up to you.
They never get to see that the healing force is inside all of us. It’s a preexisting part of the system.
Do you still use any of your old techniques in your work now?
Michael: I can’t remember the last time I’ve used a technique. It’s not that techniques are bad or wrong or never work – it’s just that they often get in the way of what’s really possible. And that’s from someone who used to be the go-to guy for techniques. If you needed a six-step process, I’d give you a choice of three – and if I didn’t have one I’d make one up. But when I saw the transformations that were happening when people got an insight into the principles just through conversation, I got really curious about it.
The problem I’ve found is that when you help someone with a technique, they always think that it’s either the technique or you that made the difference. They never get to see that the healing force is inside all of us. It’s a preexisting part of the system. So it’s like if you want to teach someone that the body is designed to float, but you also throw them a log they can hang on to in the meantime, people tend to grab the log and think that’s the only thing keeping them from drowning.
One of the things I love about the principles is that they don’t tell you what brand of beer to drink, or who you should date, or whether you should change jobs or exercise more. They’re a description of how life works versus a prescription for how life should be lived.
Which thoughts, if any, do you still struggle with?
Michael: I’d say the thoughts I struggle with the most are the ones I don’t know are thoughts – they still look like part of reality to me. That’s just the nature of the game – at times we fall for the illusion, and at times we wake up to the reality of thought. What understanding the Three Principles does for people is give us an insight into how the human experience is being created from the inside-out, moment by moment. And seeing that makes the highs and lows of our experience gentler and easier to bear.
One of the things I love about the principles is that they don’t tell you what brand of beer to drink, or who you should date, or whether you should change jobs or exercise more. They’re a description of how life works versus a prescription for how life should be lived. There’s so much freedom in that, because life is about so much more than trying to get it right.
I love the way wedding vows talk about “…for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, as long as we both shall live..” That’s just strikes me as true of the human experience – we’re here for all of it, not just the bits we know we’ll like. We don’t go to the movies and then run out at the scary parts (well, not usually!) – we’re there for the whole experience. Or like going on a roller coaster – we don’t try to negotiate with it and say that we only want to stay on for the the high points and then get off. We’re in it for the ride – the ups and downs, the scary twists and turns, the whole experience.
I still have new insights but they’re smaller and they tend to be about thinking in my own personal life
What would you change about or add to about your wonderful book, ‘The Inside Out Revolution’?
Michael: It’s been just over a year since the book was published, and then a couple of months ago I recorded the audio version and was delighted to discover that there was nothing in it that I didn’t agree with or was inclined to say much differently now.
I think that’s partly because I waited to write the book until the changes to the way I was seeing the principles began to slow right down. When I first became a student of the principles, I’d see them differently every week, but after five or six years there was a certain constancy to what I was seeing. I still have new insights regularly, but they tend to be about things in my personal life rather than the things I write about in the book.
We hear of those big sexy transformations… …and if you think this is going to happen for you in a certain way and you’re waiting for that then you’re not open to anything else that could happen.
What do you think is happening for people when they’re trying to understand the 3Ps but are struggling?
Michael: This may sound paradoxical, but it’s hard to see something this simple. So if you come to the conversation with a mind full of intellectual questions, or you really really really want to find the solution to a problem, or you’re looking to spot the hidden technique, then you’ll miss the simplicity of what’s on offer.
People hear about those big sexy life transformations, the binary shifts, the big insights when everything changes in a moment, and they’re holding out for that to happen for them instead of just listening. So they don’t notice all the small insights they’re having and they think nothing’s happening and they get discouraged and think “this isn’t working for me – I need something else or something more.”. That’s why I always tell people that the most important thing is just to stay in the conversation. If your mind is open and you don’t have too much on it, you’re far more likely to hear something new.
…the fundamental truth of the principles can’t be changed or diluted
What are your thoughts on the way awareness of the 3Ps is growing?
Michael: I think It’s great the way the principles are getting out there, being copied, being repackaged, even being argued about – they’re all signs that this understanding is becoming a part of the world’s consciousness. But I also think it’s important to make a distinction between the 3Ps as a community and the principles themselves. The 3Ps community, like any community, is going evolve. It will go through changes, and some of those changes might look horrible for a while, and then something new will emerge. It’s a natural evolution. But the fundamental truth of the principles themselves can’t be changed or diluted. They are constants in an ever-changing world, in the same way as electricity, magnetism or gravity are. So personally I don’t worry too much about the way it’ll spread. What changes the world is seeing the truth behind it, whatever you wind up calling that truth and however many different ways you try to describe it..
If you could ask Syd Banks anything, what would it be?
[Michael is silent for so long pondering this, I was about to check I hadn't cut him off]
Michael: If you asked me this question again in an hour, maybe my answer would be different, but right now, I don’t think I’d ask him anything, I’d just want to spend time with him. People who knew him have described him as this incredible presence to be with, so I think I’d would just like to spend some time with him and enjoy the feeling rather than asking him anything.
If you’d like to know more about Michael then check out his website Supercoach where regularly shares his gob-smacking wisdom and he offers raved-about coaching and training courses. And no library or Kindle collection would be complete without his book The Inside-Out Revolution – it’s soooo good that I often recommend, lend or give away copies of this book to clients (but I always keep my signed copy to myself!)