One of the great simplifications available to collaborators is to establish for themselves the exact meaning of terms they deem important to their collaboration; and one of the great opportunities afforded systems developers is their unabridged right to name and define the symbols (that is, the variables and macros) that they use in the systems they write. Taking the opportunity provided by the latter in hopes of more often achieving the former, the terms important to the adoption of The Core are defined in this, "The Core Lexicon."

In cases where we felt that additional discussion of a term as defined would be useful, we added it beneath the term’s definition. The use of italics separates such commentary from the definitions proper.

A condition wherein the quantities of needed things exceed the need for them. Also, when something is in a state of true abundance, its surplus must impose no great cost on those who benefit from its availability. Achieving an abundant supply of the things desired by those who must do the achieving will always be an acceptable goal to them.
Accountable, accountability
Acceptance of the results associated with one’s behavior.
The process of forming intention and the subsequent actions that lead to the establishment of the conditions intended.
To do things in a way that creates a difference; when you act, changes observable to others ensue.
Afraid (scared)
An emotion that signals that something is unknown.
A quality collected together from all the members of a team and considered as a whole, as in the aggregate intelligence of the team.
To organize relevant elements in optimal positions in support of achieving particular goals.
That which provides the basis for organizing elements in optimal positions relative to achieving goals.
A pattern that describes common solutions that yield undesirable results. A pattern that doesn’t work.
That which makes one present to oneself.
To act as if something were true.

A belief is a hypothesis with legs. It can finally start planning on how to become a virtual certainty, or maybe even a known fact. It has enough value to gain a more permanent berth in your mind, and it must promise enough gain to play a more prominent role in guiding your life. To become a belief, a hypothesis must ascend over all other competing hypotheses, displace any prior related beliefs, and secure enough courage from you to let it actually govern your behavior when needed.

What you say you believe isn’t as important as what you believe. And, obviously, you don’t believe what you don’t enact. Although describing, proselytizing, or otherwise articulating your beliefs in media other than your own acts can be fun, it is seldom very useful to you or anyone else. Babbling on about a value is a distraction from attaining it. Believing is not only used for framing and conducting investigation and experimentation, but for conducting actual trials. If you act as if something is true, you will shortly find out whether it is or isn’t. Any reduction of effort or increase of abundance you enjoy as a consequence of your new belief is the best measure of its truth.

The degenerate state of believing is knowing – that is, when a hypothesis becomes "knowledge" or "certainty." Knowing is believing without regard to the truth.

Big idea
An idea regarding potential actions that solves many problems simultaneously.
Type of blindness characterized by persistent misperceptions.
Talk that doesn’t move the team, or even the team’s discourse, toward the goal. The talk may or may not be engaging.
In Alignment, something that obstructs the alignee from attaining a goal.
Checked In
Behavior characterized by high levels of engagement, substantial presence, disclosure of self, and receptivity to others.
Checked Out
Absence due to awareness of low productivity or unresolved conflicting commitments.
Acting in a way that selects one from among many possible actions.
The process of mentally structuring one’s incoming stream of information.

Cognition can be viewed as involving several steps:

    • The suspension of one’s relevant beliefs
    • The analysis and integration of the information provided by one’s relevant thoughts, feelings, and intuitions
    • The formation of hypothetical acts that might exploit the information available
    • The expression of the "best" acts yielded by steps 1-3


When two or more independent agents act in concert toward achieving a stated result.
A promise of behavior or results.
Unreconciled interests. Often a big idea is required to resolve conflict.
A point or points of interface between people.
Words or behavior conforming to socially accepted customs or style, or done by rote.
The Core
A collection of patterns, protocols, antipatterns, and definitions designed to increase the efficiency of teams.
Wise choices while feeling fear. Integrated choices.
Ideas enacted. Congealed intuition.
The set of traditions, laws, rules, norms, and arts characteristic of a group in a stated time period.
One who represses hope.
An explicit, conscious choice. Decisions are often recorded.
A statement, contained in this lexicon, of what a word or expression used in connection with The Core means.
A reference to the extent of levels of meaning, or degree of transcendence.
depth, check in
The degree of disclosure and extent of feelings of vulnerability that result.
To reveal.
Neurotic behavior that is theatrical in nature and nonproductive of results.
A value expressed mathematically as results/effort. The larger the efficiency, the greater the productivity of the effort.

Because the practice of efficiency is a commitment to improvement in all things, a given attempt at efficiency may be more costly than earlier attempts.

Behavior that yields the same or better results with less effort compared with prior behavior in similar circumstances.
Emotions, emotional
High-speed, personal information-processing elements consisting of one or more of four primitive feeling states: mad, sad, glad, and afraid.

The function of emotions is to inform the person experiencing them more quickly or differently than would be done by rational thought. Emotions are slower and more vivid than intuitions, and faster and more diffuse than thoughts.

Involvement with other people, work, and objects.
In Alignment, something in the behavior, affect, or results of an alignee that shows the rest of the team that he has attained, is attaining, or is working on attaining that which he wants.
Difficult to structure and often undesirable noise that usually arises in reaction to certain expressions.
Use of a conflict by one or more of the interests involved to harm the other interests.
A term given to a specific state of optimal performance, first used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper & Row, 2008).
To accept benign leadership and to act as required to sustain it.
The state of being wherein the pursuit of the desired is not unnecessarily hindered. Behavior that follows self-acceptance, itself often followed by the acceptance of others.
Application of personal power, often associated with the exercise of connection and/or creativity.
Glad (happy)
An emotion that signals a gain.
That which is desired, for which one has formed intention.
Great, greatness
That which is productive of abundant good, or goodness scaled larger. The result of sustained, passionate living.

Pursuit of greatness usually exhausts all accessible potential in its pursuit of the good. Greatness is generally judged by assessing the beneficence of results over the long term, and is thus the purview of history.

Headgap (baseline)
The headgap baseline is the cost in time, effort, and learning for a person to apply one of his abilities to a given task when and as he desires.
Headgap (cost)
The increase in cost (beyond the headgap baseline) that a person would pay to apply the ability of another person.

The cost of psychological distance (the headgap) between two people is the additional cost required for Person A to apply an ability so that it is available to Person B as if it were B’s own, plus the additional cost (beyond the baseline) for Person B to gain such availability. The headgap includes any costs of the interpersonal connection between A and B, the effort A and B must make to increase their availability to each other, and the effort B must make to apply A’s quality. Also the headgap incorporates the cost of erroneous transactions between A and B.

High bandwidth, bandwidth
The capacity of a communications channel to carry information.
Belief in potential, usually experienced in the first stages of trust.

Hope is really the conception of new life; it is the only antidote to cynicism.

An idea about how information might be used to produce more abundance, either by reducing effort or by increasing the results of effort, or some combination of the two.
An abstract, internal connection between things thought to be unlike, often experienced as an impulse to do, accept, or create new things or ways.
To encourage more effective efforts or greater creativity. The most effective form of inspiration is behavioral; the least effective is verbal exhortation.
Transcendent congruence. Alignment of feeling, thought, word, and deed; connection with unity and without limits. The unity of thought, word, and deed.
Intellectual Property, IP
The product of imaginative effort.

In commercial terms, IP is basically a legal fiction designed to confer the possibility of ownership over aspects of largely abstract elements. Although this type of ownership can be granted and enforced legally provided the owner adheres to certain technical procedures established by international and local law, in the context of The Core, the ownership potential of IP is neither assumed nor required.

Sustained smartness. A quality that requires the consistent application of what is known to the pursuit of what is desired.

Intelligence sometimes begins as an abstract element. Ultimately, however, all intelligence must be behavioral. That is, unapplied intelligence is stupidity.

Intelligent agent
A collection of dynamically available information combined with self-awareness. An intelligent agent always behaves with efficiency proportionate to the extent of intelligence in its collection.
Desired potential result.
Purposeful. Behavior or expression performed with achievement of a result in mind.
A point or points at which one object connects with another; the rules and protocols surrounding such engagement.
A precognitive awareness of emerging reality; contact with motive energy.
Unconditional inquiry driven by real or pretended curiosity.
Cause to be executed.
To know or to be certain, is to believe to a pathological degree.

The pathology of knowing manifests itself in the "knower’s" movement to expunge personal receptivity and repress the continuous experimentation and analysis that leads to learning. Learning confers vitality on the believer. Knowledge, or certainty, typically retards or even eliminates cognition in the knower. Consequently, knowing is usually an inferior interface to a world than is believing.

To be the first person or group to act on a belief.
Public vulnerability. Courageous deployment of power.
Mad (angry)
An emotion that signals a problem.
Behavior characterized by efficiency and the absence of neurosis.
On average, meeting average expectations.
Behavior and/or belief that tends to defeat one’s purpose.

By this definition, it seems that all people are neurotic. The tenacious evolution of your neurotic behavior even after it has (apparently) been identified and consciously rejected (at least in the general case) is a true mystery. Still, it seems that almost all human behavior has neurotic components. Even the most successful behaviors, when deconstructed, are more like a race barely won than a purely positive succession of actions.

To explicitly choose to forgo something.
Compelling anger, sorrow, joy, or terror; sublime emotions. Vivid caring.
A pattern is a standardized way of efficiently communicating the solution to a problem in a context; it should generate something and tell you how to generate that same thing.
To acquire information via one’s sensory apparatus while simultaneously maintaining awareness of the perceiving experience.
That which can be improved no further.
The smallest, discrete intelligent agent. A person is the atom of intelligence.
Plan of Record
The complete set of actions to be done. Decided by a team.
Pop a level
To intentionally focus one’s orientation at an imaginative level that includes but is not limited to the immediate consensual reality.
Being. New learning and new integration.
A person’s impact over a given time period; the experience of another’s impact.

The quality, value, and cost of your presence over time is determined primarily by (1) the differences it makes to those who interacted with you during and after the time in question, (2) the differences it made on the objects and processes involved, (3) the differences you forge in your own life by your perceptions and the interactions with others. Your degree of presence over a time and at a particular place with a particular group determines the extent of your results.

Presence varies: You move between having no effects whatsoever to total supremacy over the time period. Your presence is increased by self-disclosure, disclosure most effectively wrought in the medium of your behavior. If you form intentions and apply them, exercise your awareness, think and exploit whatever virtue you possess, your presence grows great. The largest increases in presence will come from timely use of your creativity. Conversely, presence is diminished by your withholding any of these things.

A mental effort that superimposes newly imagined conditions in favor of actual or remembered conditions upon one’s environment.

Such pretense is almost always for the purpose of eliminating a possible personal bias or creating more productive conditions for something new by the willing suspension of disbelief. Conversely, when pretense has less intention behind it, such pretense is often meant to posit imaginary conditions that would, if accepted, establish one’s lack of accountability for a result.

Reduced to the level of atomicity; that is, not further reducible. In a system, the primitives are the basic units of construction.
That which generates acceptably more than it costs; could be behavior, ideas, or ingredients of any type.
A style of behavior that meets expectations.
A team member who has made a well-formed proposal to a team; certain rights and responsibilities accrue to a proposer for the life of his proposal.
A set of rules or standards designed to enable people or computers
singly or in groups
to connect with one another and to exchange information with as little error and using as little time as possible.
A reference to the closeness between people or objects.
A distressful experience following a supremely satisfying one. In Recoil, one disbelieves in the reality of the former joy and related achievements, and experiences psychological regression.
Recursive, recursion
A property belonging to a thing that is defined in terms of itself; something that is applied to itself repeatedly.
To force or coerce some countervailing force to find alternative avenues of expression rather than the normal or most expedient avenues. This coercion is often done because of a real or imagined prohibition of the most direct and simplest means of expression.
Offering what you see as help to someone who hasn’t requested this assistance.

Rescues are words you say or actions you take that are unilateral (that is, you or you and other co-rescuers say or do something on your own initiative) and ostensibly performed on behalf of another person, even though the object of the rescue has not explicitly asked you to provide said words or actions. Most often, a rescue is a misguided attempt to change another’s feeling state so as to ameliorate another’s perceived discomfort and thereby provide greater comfort for yourself.

Example 1: You say, "I think what Bill is trying to say is …" Fact: Bill speaks for Bill, and you for you.

Example 2: Bill says, "I’m so… [negative self-depiction]."
You say, "Oh, no, Bill, you are so [positive Bill-depiction]."

Fact: Most likely, Bill is either (1) neurotically putting himself down, (unacceptable); (2) indirectly (which, in this case, translates to inefficiently and manipulatively) seeking your contradiction to his negative self-assessment (unacceptable); (3) accurately approaching or identifying some weakness or some darker aspect of himself (praiseworthy); or (4) simply mistaken in his self-assessment (highly unlikely), whereupon your denial would escape rescue-hood.

Generally, any attempt motivated by the desire to "make" someone stop feeling "negative" feelings is a rescue. All feelings are benign and transitory. Often our uneasiness with another’s discomfort greatly compounds our personal discomfort.

Example 3: Bill says, "I need X."
You say, "Bill, I’ll give you X."

Fact: You are rescuing Bill from having to show his dependency by directly asking: "Will you…?" Any transaction of this type that doesn’t include asking and answering has rescuing (and therefore deception) within its confines.

Example 4: You know Bill feels sad.
Spontaneously, perhaps even within a group, you start enumerating Bill’s attractions. You hope it makes Bill feel better.

Fact: You are trying to stop Bill’s sadness, if he has any, and you are telling him (and anyone else who is listening) that sadness is unwelcome to you. The basic message is "Stop the sadness!" (or whatever feeling you don’t want). Although your intervention may feel courageous to you and is surely benign (you think), you are actually wasting time, injuring yourself, and prolonging or even creating Bill’s angst. Such attempts at manipulative affirmation are usually transparent, and reduce the value of whatever true content they have. They injure you by tainting what you offer and diminishing the value you bring to Bill, should he ask for it. They also decrease the future value you can more purely bring to Bill or others by establishing your willingness to flatter rather than affirm. If you reward Bill’s show of sadness instead of inviting his request for support, you will get more shows and fewer requests.

Result, results
The product of intentional efforts.
Behavior organized to most efficiently achieve results, that is, that which is desired.
Rich information, enriched information
A set of collected facts about something of interest to a particular audience, from which local irrelevancies have been removed, and to which emphasizing and summarizing elements have been added. This information is then communicated to its audience in the most direct means possible. The person transmitting achieves special efficiencies by assuming that any prior context of trust remains stable, that earlier shared values are still shared, and that an established, common commitment to particular objectives is still active within the intended recipients of the information. These conditions allow for reduced consumption of bandwidth and time in collaborative discourse.


High degrees of data compression can be found in a glance between two lovers. Much information is transmitted in little time with very little effort. This is due to the presumed continuity of the state of trust, shared values, and common goals of the lovers.

An emotion that signals a loss.
Applied trust. Projection of the benign.
Dimensions of accountability. Empowerment.
Behavior that fulfills one’s accountability for oneself.

Apparently, all people carry self-destructiveness. Most instances simply result in the extra struggle and suffering you invite into your life and then oh-so-stoically endure; extreme cases have more extreme results.

Shared vision
A multipersonal state of being in which the participants see and imagine the same things. Differs from a shared vision statement, a phrase that is used to summarize that which is seen or imagined by a team in a state of shared vision.
One who represses gullibility.
Applying what is understood to attaining what is desirable. That which is productive.
A kind of intellectual property (IP) specific to sets of organized procedures and data having the property that, when given the same parameters as input, will always produce the same results.
Obsessing, or caught in an obsessive cycle.

When stuck, a person will incorrectly map many evils or hindrances to the object on which he is stuck. Oversimplification of the causes of undesirable results is one symptom of being stuck. Any one or more of scapegoating, maintaining an attitude of victimhood, and the sensation of a lack of control may characterize being stuck.

Unstructured vocalizations with widely varying signal-to-noise ratios.

Talk is the most common way to avoid leading or following. Talking is also a strategy to prevent others from leading or following. Often, because someone wants to talk, you feel obligated to listen. This exercise represents courtesy in decay. While listening is typically a rewarding strategy, paying disproportionate attention to low-utility verbiage serves no one. Worse, seeming to pay attention positively harms all involved.

An intelligent agent that is super-personal. It consists of a number of persons (or teams) committed to acting in concert toward a common purpose with the highest possible efficiency.

Team behavior always involves two activities:

    • Pooling personal resources, especially time, information, and skills
    • Deploying those resources in the efficient pursuit of individual and communal success and abundance Also, a team is always capable of speaking with one voice.


To intentionally monitor and guide oneself in acts of cognition.

Often, thinking is confused with the normal process of consciousness. In the "professional" context, thinking is really a travesty of cognition. In this world, the practice of thinking seems to be characterized by detachment and based on the repression or elimination of most available information relevant to the subject of the thinking. For example, the information contained in feelings, intuitions, and other rapid-processing capabilities is taboo. This type of "professionalism" really consists of anti-thinking and emotional bigotry.

Rigid boundaries on thinking seem to develop when group members know – together and at the same time – that no useful information can be gleaned from their perceptions. Worse, new perceptual information may be considered dangerous to the group’s well-being. As used professionally, the term "thinking" connotes antiseptic, verbal, mostly linear knowing. Typically, "thinking," as it is understood in the workplace, depends on a bias against science. This bias arises from an urge to sustain belief without ongoing experimentation. The defense of an arbitrary collection of usually second-hand knowledge against the acceptance of new, first-hand information places an enormous tax on work environments.

Exerting mental effort while maintaining awareness of such exertion. Thinking always includes thinking about thinking. Alternative states of consciousness do not.
Personal endorsement of something by offering no perceptible resistance to it.
Pejorative term used to demean intentional behavior that is purportedly designed to elicit or express emotions; often used prejudicially.
That which is present but doesn’t seem like it is. As opposed to virtual, that which seems present but isn’t.
Belief in connection. Accurate perception of the benign.
A belief that, when acted upon, is more likely to produce abundance than competing beliefs.

Truths give way only to other truths; they do so continuously and at what seems to be an accelerating pace.

A positive force conducive to results.
That which seems present but isn’t; as opposed to transparent, that which is present but doesn’t seem like it is.
A power, the application of which is particularly conducive to achieving results.
Imaginative sight. Perception in multiple dimensions.
What is desired.

Goals, wants, and desires are used interchangeably in The Core.

Effort or expense that does not produce the desired result.

Copyright © 2002, 2010 Jim and Michele McCarthy

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