Michael Neill is an internationally renowned transformative coach and the best-selling author of six books including The Inside-Out Revolution, The Space Within, and Creating the Impossible. His weekly radio show, Living from the Inside Out, has been a listener favorite on Hay House Radio for over a decade and his TEDx talk, Why Aren’t We Awesomer?, has been viewed by over 250,000 people around the world.
I first met Michael Neill when I viewed his TEDx talk Why Aren’t We Awesomer?. I was personally so impacted by what I learned that I began a deeper inquiry into his work and books.
Michael gave me a new understanding of how my mind works. My mind quieted down, and I became noticeably more productive and creative. In this interview with Michael, he describes how and why this occurs. He also provides an understanding of why and how my interviews frequently result in people sharing their wisdom and saying things they’ve never said before.
How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Michael Neill: There are two things that I would say to the first part—where
every voice matters.
First off, creating a workplace where every voice matters really just depends on meaning it. In other words, it’s a great sounding thing, but you’ve got to start by seeing—do you actually think every voice matters?
Or do you just think that would be a good thing to do? Because if you just think
that would be a good thing to do, you’re not going to do it. You’re not going to succeed because ultimately people hear what we mean, not what we say.
The heart of that question is, “Why should every voice matter?” And if you
genuinely believe everybody has something to contribute at whatever level they
can contribute, then actually there are a million ways to create that workplace.
That could range from a suggestion box where the ideas are actually considered
to meetings where people listen to one another instead of listening to respond.
You know, to me, a bad meeting is like a Facebook discussion where nobody’s
listening and everybody’s making points. A good meeting is a meeting where
everyone is listening, and there is space to hear something new beyond what
anyone brought into the room with them. But if you don’t fundamentally think
that every voice matters, then honestly, you could have the best strategy in the
world and it wouldn’t work.
To create a workplace where everyone thrives and finds meaning, you have to begin by showing people where thriving comes from—and where meaning comes from.
Maybe this is an obvious thing for someone who wrote a book called the Inside
Out Revolution to say, but it comes from inside. It does not come from “a
workplace”. There is no such thing as a workplace that can do that. But you can
have a workplace filled with people who are thriving and who know where to
look for meaning. To accomplish that, first, there’s an education component to it. I would say education more than training—though training is one of the ways you can get at education. Coaching is also one of the ways you can get at education. But an education component where people start to learn, “Oh, that amazing feeling I get when I’m engaged, and I’m challenged but not overwhelmed?” It’s a place where creativity is flowing, and I feel great about what I’m doing and how I’m
That is cultivable from within me. However, there are very clear things that get
in the way of that, and when I can take them into account I will thrive more and
more of the time.
So, if I have a workplace where the workers are educated in the inside-out understanding, then they are awake to that capacity to thrive and find meaning in themselves.
I will then have a workplace where people thrive and find meaning. Now I might
get lucky, and on a project that people buy into they’ll have that sense organically. But, that’s going to be sporadic. That’s going to come and go. If I want to make the workplace a place where that consistently happens, then that comes from within the understanding of the people who are working there.
Regarding change and innovation, well the funny thing is that change and
innovation do happen naturally when you’re not getting in the way. So that’s
easy—that’s the easy one. Stop stopping it! You’ll be fine. I think the main thing
to see with change and innovation is that these are natural processes that we
either facilitate or inhibit. To introduce a change initiative or innovation initiative is a misunderstanding of change and innovation.
The more we make space for things to unfold—as opposed to trying to make them fit the banks of the river of limited possibility we dug with our habitual thinking—the more they will.
It becomes almost a dance with creative ideas, with fresh ideas, and with
innovation rather than a military march. I know there’s a bottom line and a
military march has an appeal, it’s just that the military march by design has very
little space for change or innovation.