THE CORE SYSTEM
(v1.5 – Beta Release 1.5 (8-24-04)
The Structure of The Core. The Core is a structured personal and inter-personal system to help you get
what you want, whatever you want, while spending the least possible time, money and effort in doing
so. The Core has been in various stages of development, experimentation and in daily use since 1996.
The Core 1.5 consists of two types of things:
1. Eleven special promises (The Core Commitments or CoreCom).
These are pledges that each person who adopts the Core:
a. Must endorse to adopt;
b. Will renew frequently and explicitly;
c. Will keep practicing until something better becomes available.
While there are other types of commitments associated with The Core, the Core
Commitments (CoreCom) are governing.
2. Eleven specified behaviors (The Core Protocols)
Specified behaviors designed to facilitate one’s fidelity to the Core Commitments.
Adopting The Core Commitments is accomplished by signing the Core Commitments Page in front of a
witness (See page two, below), and then sending the original document to:
Core Adoption Records
C/O McCarthy Technologies, Inc.
9719 Crystal Lake Drive
Woodinville, WA 98077
The Core Commitments
It is my firm purpose now to provide myself with the best available help in attaining what I want, and to
help others attain what they want. To achieve these ends, I choose to adopt the commitments below and make
them my personal promises.
I also now join with those who have already made these promises, and who are now collaborating actively
on keeping them by using the related protocols.
The duration of my adoption is indefinite. I freely obligate myself to the commitments below until such time
as I encounter or create another system that better fulfills my purpose.
The Core Commitments continued…
Therefore, I promise I will:
Exercise my freedom to choose; preserve this freedom by being accountable for my choices, and by
encouraging others to do as I do.
2. Engage when present.
a. Know what I want in the large and in the small, and
i. Disclose this knowledge continuously.
ii. Seek and accept others’ help in discovering and getting what I want.
ii. Invite others’ continuous support in helping me behave as if I meant to achieve what I
b. Listen and observe as fully as possible, and
i. Consistently offer clear articulation of my own emotional information,
ii. Expect that from others,
iii. Decline to offer and refuse to accept incoherent emotional transmissions.
c. When I believe I have a better idea than the currently prevailing idea, I will state it at once to any
and all of those who can perfect, reject or implement it. Once I state an idea, I will maintain it until:
i. I learn that it is not the best idea after all,
ii. Someone else improves it, and states it anew,
iii. It is officially adopted or is decisively rejected.
d. Speak always and only when it will improve the general results/effort ratio.
e. Offer and accept only rational, results-oriented behavior and communication.
3. Disengage from unproductive situations:
a. When I cannot keep these commitments.
b. When others are not behaving in a manner consistent with these commitments.
c. When it is more important that I engage elsewhere.
4. Support the best idea regardless of its source, and however much I hope an even better idea may later
5. Do now what must be done eventually and can be done now.
6. Seek to move forward toward a particular goal, by biasing my behavior toward action.
7. Use the Core Protocols when they are applicable.
a. Adopt new protocols – or other specified procedures - always and only when they improve results.
When I discover or encounter a superior protocol or procedure, I will document it and inform others
who may help propagate it,
b. When I violate or witness violation of the Core Commitments or the Core Protocols, I will explicitly
acknowledge it, and I will work to improve the situation at once.
c. Neither harm - nor tolerate the harming of - anyone for their fidelity to these commitments.
8. Get effective help continuously.
9. Never do anything dumb on purpose.
10. Inform others of my commitment to results-orientation, and, as appropriate, invite them to join me, by
giving them a written copy of these Core Commitments.
11. Welcome help from others when my public behavior seems at variance with these promises.
I renew my personal adoption of The Core Commitments whenever I CheckIn by saying, “I’m In.”
Print Name: _______________________________
Witnessed By: _______________________________
The Core Protocols
1. Pass (Unpass)
Pass is how you decline to participate in something. Use it anytime you don’t want to participate in an
1. When you’ve decided not to participate, say, "I pass."
1. Hold reasons for passing private.
2. Pass on something as soon as you are aware you are going to pass.
3. Respect the right of others to pass without explanation.
4. Support those who pass by not discussing them or their pass.
5. Do not judge, shame, hassle, interrogate or punish anyone who passes.
1. In general, you will not be in good standing with your Core Commitments if you pass most of the
2. You can pass on any activity and any commitment; however, If you are a member of a group
wherein all members have adopted The Core Commitments, you cannot pass on a Decider
vote, and you must say “I’m in,“ when checking in.
3. You can still pass even though you have already started something.
4. "Unpass" any time you desire. Unpass as soon as you know you want to participate again by
saying, “I unpass.” Unpass takes on the same commitments as Pass.
The CheckIn protocol increases results by providing a structure for making emotional information
available. Its use removes emotional ambiguity, and encourages free speech and confidentiality. Use
CheckIn when a group convenes, when you feel the need emotionally, and when you believe you
might be moving towards unproductive behavior. The CheckIn protocol serves the dual purpose of
recommitting yourself to the Core Commitments of presence and efficiency-seeking behavior, while
also giving you a means of disclosing emotional state, for your own benefit and that of the team.
1. Speaker says either:
"I feel (one or more of MAD, SAD, GLAD, AFRAID).” Speaker may provide a brief
b. If others have already checked in, the speaker may say, “I pass”. (See Pass)
2. Speaker says "I'm in.” This signifies that Speaker intends to behave according to The Core
3. Listeners respond, "Welcome.”
1. State feelings without qualification.
2. State feelings only as they pertain to yourself.
3. Be silent during another’s CheckIn.
4. Do not refer to your own or another’s CheckIn disclosures without explicitly granted permission
1. In the context of the Core, all emotions are expressed through combinations of MAD, SAD,
GLAD, or AFRAID. E.g. Excited may be a combination of glad and afraid.
2. CheckIn as deeply as possible. Checking in with two or more emotions is the norm. The depth of
a group’s CheckIn translates directly to the quality of the group’s results.
3. Do not do anything to diminish or augment your emotional state. Do not describe yourself as a
“little” mad, glad, sad, or afraid or say “I’m mad, but I’m still glad”.
4. Except in large groups, if more than one person checks in, it is recommended that all do so.
CheckOut requires that your physical presence always signifies your engagement. You must CheckOut
when you are aware that you cannot maintain The Core Commitments, or whenever it would be better
for you to be elsewhere.
1. Say, "I'm checking-out."
2. Physically leave the group until you're ready to CheckIn once again.
3. Optionally, if it is known and relevant, you can say when you believe you’ll return.
1. Return as soon as you can and are able to keep The Core Commitments.
2. Return and CheckIn without unduly calling attention to your return.
3. Let your group know when you will return if you know when that will be, otherwise say nothing
about your return.
4. Do not judge, shame, hassle, interrogate or punish anyone who checks out.
1. It is a misuse of CheckOut if you use it to get unwarranted attention, express anger behaviorally,
cause disruption, and so on. However, if you do want to do any of these things, you need to
2. CheckOut if your emotional state is hindering your success, if your receptivity to new information
is too low, or if you do not know what you want.
3. CheckOut is an admission that you are unable to contribute at the present time.
4. Ask For Help
Ask For Help allows you to efficiently make use of the skills and knowledge of others. Ask For Help is the
act that catalyzes connection and shared vision. Use it continuously, before and during the pursuit of
1. Asker inquires of another, "(Helper’s name), will you X?”
2. Asker expresses any specifics or restrictions of the request.
3. Helper responds by saying “Yes” or “No”, or by offering an alternative form of help.