Landmark Education and the Landmark Forum

February 14, 2012

A New Review – Landmark Forum , Cult or Transformation?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 7:55 pm

Another rational review of The Landmark Forum has appeared as a Yahoo Voices contribution titled Landmark Forum: Transformation or Cult? As you can probably guess from the title, the article reviews the Landmark Forum while clearly addressing those who call Landmark a cult.

What is distinct about other sane reviews of this type is that it goes through the things that distinguish a cult one by one – a leader to be obeyed, possessions to be surrendered, isolation from family, meditation/chanting, etc. – and of course finds that The Landmark Forum and Landmark Education don’t qualify at any level. Of course you probably knew that already – people call Landmark a cult and people cultists is more the kind of vague insult that people toss at any group of people who seem to have a passion for something.

Read more above.


June 15, 2011

The Landmark Forum, Mindfulness, and the Illusion of Someday

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 6:19 pm

Hello there! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something – life gets busy and all that; you know the story.

I saw today that someone who was talking about The Landmark Forum associated it with this article on mindfulness. I notice that a lot of people do this – they associate whatever they got with the notion of being completely present in the moment with whatever you are doing. I find this curious because the Landmark Forum doesn’t actually talk about the zen concept of mindfulness – I don’t think the word has ever been used in any Landmark course I’ve done, and while the idea of being present in the moment has been mentioned, it’s hardly been the focus of any of the courses.

However, while mindfulness isn’t really talked about at Landmark, I think people bring it up because the opposite of mindfulness IS talked about at Landmark – the thought process that one is left with if one isn’t being full present in the moment. It’s what I’d call the illusion of someday, or, ‘this isn’t it’.

In the ‘illusion of someday’, it’s implied that right now things aren’t perfect, they aren’t ideal, but we’re working on it, and someday things will be much better. In this way of thinking, I may have a crappy job and my marriage isn’t idea, but I won’t think too much about it, because I’m doing the best I can, and someday, hopefully, it won’t be like this. The illusion is obvious from the outside – ‘someday’ never comes. If things are one way now, they’re likely to be that way in the future unless one mindfully alters things.

And thinking from ‘this isn’t it; my real life will start someday’ causes the exact opposite of mindfulness in the present moment – it will be what has one ‘zoned out’ as you go through your day, whether it’s washing dishes or even being with the ones you love as you try to get to someday or to get to those parts of life that one truly enjoys.

Valuing one part of life over another is consistent with living a life of trying to get through something. When this illusion is punctured, the reality of ‘this is it!’ is experienced, and the possibility of real mindfulness begins.

September 9, 2010

A Landmark Wedding

Filed under: Breakthrough Results, inspiration — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 6:30 pm

I was just reading a story about a very moving proposal a man made at the end of his landmark forum to his girlfriend. The man writes how he saw in the landmark forum that it made a huge difference to get beyond that voice of doubt in our heads that tell us something isn’t possible.

He had a dozen friends at the end of his course, including his girlfriend, and he took them all aside after the forum completed, told them all how much they meant to them and what future he saw that he could have together, and ended by proposing to his girlfriend, who of course tearfully accepted. My summation is a terribly clumsy recap of this moving story – read for yourself the story of Monica and Mark.

August 24, 2010

Why ‘Breakthrough’ Failed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 3:18 pm

A lot of people I know in the United States who have taken the Landmark Forum and are interested in personal development have been talking about the brief life of Tony Robbins’ “Breakthrough” television show – specifically, why no one turned out to watch it. The show, which featured Tony Robbins coaching people to have breakthroughs in their lives, was canceled after only two episodes due to poor ratings.

Some of my friends thought it was canceled simply because it didn’t execute – it wasn’t good television in that some of what Robbins had people due was so outside the realm of what normal people could do without the financial help of a TV show made it hard for people to connect with.

Others cynically say that television viewers aren’t ready for good news. A show that is neither tragedy nor comedy just doesn’t get watched.

This begs the question, though, why wouldn’t people watch a show about personal breakthroughs or inspiring stories. Obviously, the success of reality television in America proves there is a huge market for real life stories.

My answer, and this comes back to the whole topic of personal development and the Landmark Forum, is that uncomfortable is a hard sell.

The act of watching television is an inherently ‘comfortable’ one. You are sitting somewhere comfortable (hopefully), taking your mind off your troubles, seeking to be reassured, or at least transported to some other reality that makes you forget your own.

Comedy is comfortable. It reassures you that all is well in the world. Action, fantasy, and science-fiction, are comfortable as well – they carry you off into a different world. And tragedy and most reality television, surprisingly, are also quite comfortable. Bad things happen, but by showing people with such huge problems, or in the case of most reality television, such a huge degree of pettiness, we feel comforted that whatever our problems, we are better off than the people we are watching. We may be petty people with human foibles, but at least we’re better than most people we see on reality TV.

Ordinary real people having real breakthroughs and doing inspiring things, on the other hand, is not comfortable. Watching such a show raises the uncomfortable question of why aren’t I having such breakthroughs or doing such inspiring things? Such self-examination isn’t part of the comfort that television is selling.

And I think this is why personal development will always have to deal with something in the selling of it, whether it’s a television show or a course. The decision to do something uncomfortable, look at oneself truly regardless of what one may end up seeing, isn’t a quick and easy sell.

I’d love to hear what others think on this one.

June 25, 2010

Do we want life to be predictable or not?

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 6:41 pm

One of the things I find most interesting about human nature is our ambivalent relationship with predictability. Do we want our lives to be predictable? Some people would say yes, some would say no, and many would say we want it to be predictable in some ways and not others. The Landmark Forum makes a case for the unpredictable, saying that breakthrough results and performance are only available in the world of the unpredictable.

I think this perhaps reflects a source of tension people find around Landmark Education and their programmes – they become interested, but they are nervous about their sense that taking the Landmark Forum might turn their lives upside down! And this is often the case, not because the Landmark Forum ‘does something’ to people, but it allows them to see that the predictability of life is actually their own creation, and that they could take it in entirely different directions if they so chose. Having the option to get completely out of your cozy routine can be disconcerting.

I summarize the internal conflict this way: the mind craves predictability. In fact, it wants this certainty far more than it wants happiness and fulfillment. With certainty and predictability the mind can strategize how to get through life, even it’s not fulfilling, if we survive, that’s for the mind. The mind is about survival, and if it sees a predictable path for survival, that’s enough for it, regardless of whether it’s particularly gratifying.

Our higher selves, one could say, don’t really care about predictability. Our higher selves want to learn and grown and flourish. Predictability actually tends to be a barrier to these things. This creates a natural tension in people. You can see it when someone comtemplates a serious life change sometimes – a new career, going to school, marriagen/divorce – the current circumstance can be miserable, but people are still loathe to change the routine – they are caught in between their desires for predicatability on hand and their desire for growth and happiness on the other.

None of this is to say that predictability is inherently bad or unpredictability inherently good – in fact, in the realm of survival, quite the reverse it true, in the sense that predictability is quite a good thing for an aeroplane engine or finding one’s auto keys.

But for me, after having done the Landmark Forum, nothing could quite beat the experience of life as an adventure, desiring to meet new people because I didn’t know what they were like – it was certainly more gratifying than night after night in front of the television! In this way, unpredictability has been a good thing for me. If you read reviews of the Landmark Forum, I’ll bet good money that you’ll notice a trend – those saying positive things about it are talking about the excitement of unpredictable experiences, while those criticising it are operating on the precept that unpredictability is a bad thing. Until next time…

May 27, 2010

The Power of Acknowledgment and the Landmark Forum

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 7:05 pm

I think that the biggest thing I got out of the Landmark Forum was the real power of acknowledgment and acknowledging people. It might seem pretty obvious that acknowledging people is important and worthwhile, but I think our culture has a limited view of acknowledgment that prevents most people from having it be as difference-making as it could be.

I just saw an incredible video which illustrates this principle perfectly. It’s not directly about Landmark Education or the Forum, but it could have been. If you don’t want to read all my philosophizin’ then just watch the video below:

Mostly, how we view acknowledgment is that we judge people on how effective they are at something, or how much they helped us, and if they are really effective or did a really good job helping us, then we acknowledge them. If we give more acknowledgment than that, then either our acknowledgment is cheap, or worse, phony. Have you ever notice that it means more to you when you get an acknowledgment from someone who rarely gives it than when we get one from someone who acknowledges or thanks everybody?

In fact, I would say that we seek acknowledgment from those least likely to give it, because to get that particular acknowledgment would indicate that we had been truly successful in something. In this way of looking at it, acknowledgment is basically a positive evaluation of someone’s performance – a judgment on how they did.

In this paradigm of acknowledgment, someone who does a consistently average job at something will never get acknowledged. And if we see someone who consistently gives out acknowledgment without any evidence of extraordinary performance, we actually become contemptuous of the acknowledger – it’s like when we’re children in school and there’s a big race and afterwards every child is given a medal, even those who came in last, because we don’t want anyone to feel bad that they didn’t win. In this model of acknowledgment as performance evaluator, freely given acknowledgment reeks of condescension or rewarding mediocrity.

But there’s a different way of looking at acknowledgment – viewing it as an act of creation rather than an act of evaluation? What if you acknowledge people in such a way that it actually has them be bigger, happier people just out of getting the acknowledgment? What if you acknowledge people without worrying whether the acknowledgment is “true” in most people’s eyes? Inside the model of acknowledgment = evaluation, this is positive thinking, namby pamby self-esteem boosting at its worst, having people feel better rather than confront reality.

But in the acknowledgment = creation way of looking at things, having the lots of evidence for your acknowledgment isn’t the most important thing. What’s important is the actual impact your acknowledgment has on people. What’s important is that people actually step into being who you acknowledge them as, not from a phony, inflated sense of self-worth, but as a fully authentic, honest expression of who they are. If this doesn’t make sense, watch the video above. I can attest to the miraculous difference acknowledging people as a creation can make – it can heal wounds, create joy and love where it wasn’t there before and actually make the kind of positive difference with people that we all desire to make.

Acknowledgment = creation is something I took from the Landmark Forum, not as a concept that was taught, but as something I realized was true for myself. Enough said, watch the video!

April 8, 2010

The Future You’re Living into

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 6:26 pm

I don’t really have a Landmark Forum review here, so I thought I’d take the time to write something about an idea from the Landmark Forum that’s personally made a big difference in my life, particularly lately. I became reminded of it in this video of a Landmark Forum leader I saw recently which discussed the topic.

I don’t think I’ve ever written about much length about the idea of living into a future – I’m not going to bother to take the time to check all my past posts, so bear with me if I’m repeating myself.

What do I mean by ‘living into a future’? What I mean is the idea that one’s current experience of live in the present moment, and from that experience the actions that one is taking in the present moment, is entirely a function of the future into which one is living. It’s not the present circumstances, or things in the past that happened, that give us who we are and what we do now; it’s instead the future we are living into.

Example: a man is due to be released from prison the next day. He may be sitting in a dingy cell, he may have had a miserable 10 years behind bars, but now he is happy beyond measure that he will be free tomorrow.

Another example: the same man 10 years earlier, the day before he was due to be taken to jail. He might be sitting in his own house free, but he’s miserable because tomorrow he will be taken to jail for 10 years.

In these examples it’s pretty obvious that what’s giving our actions and our feelings right is the future we’re living into, not how it is in the present moment or the past.

One caveat, and this is a big one, if the future we are living into looks like more of what’s happened before, more of the past, as it often does to us, then it will appear that this isn’t true – it will appear that the past is giving our life. But this is an illusion – it’s still the future we are living into that’s giving us our life – it’s simply a question of whether it’s a new future, an interesting future, an inspiring future – or the same old future that’s actually the past in disguise.

I’ve gotten more and more clear recently that the future is just that, the future; it hasn’t happened yet and I have a say about it and to think that it has to be determined by the past is actually a form of insanity, albeit a form of insanity that many of us often suffer from. From my exercising, my relationships with my family, my work; I’m very clear that I can have things happen that have never happened before. And that’s pretty exciting!

March 17, 2010

It’s Not a Cult

Filed under: Breakthrough Results — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 8:57 pm

I find it amusing that someone recently started a website about personal development programs that they titled simply ‘It’s Not a Cult‘. While the site itself has a pretty extensive description/review of The Landmark Forum, I like it especially for the sentence which begins to describe the site:

In navigating the vast world of self development programs, we think that there are better questions to ask than “is this a cult?”

Calling something a cult is a conversation ender. It’s the organisational equivalent of calling someone a racist – it casts a dark shadow that is hard to dispel. It implies that something is nefarious, insular and strange and brooks no argument. Most of the random internet folks I’ve seen calling a personal development program a cult aren’t really interested in making a serious case for this; they’d simply like to scare you into not looking to something. The ‘cult alarmists’ usually have a few things in common:

1) They argue that one should should trust so-called ‘experts’ (random people like themselves on the internet) instead of one’s own experience – people are too vulnerable/weak/stupid to judge things for themselves.

2) They believe people should be afraid, very afraid – bogeymen exist everywhere trying to con you, to steal your money and your soul.

3) They believe any personal development that exists outside their personal paradigm of choice – religion or psychology, usually – is dangerous hogwash.

Fact is, I’ve seen a whole lot of personal development courses of all shapes and sizes, some I’ve liked and some I didn’t, but I’ve yet to encounter one that I would call a cult by the true definition of one. There are a whole lot of good questions to ask about any self help course – what are the intended goals, what are the methods, is this company’s a philosophy a match for what I wish to accomplish – but, as this website says, “Is this a cult?” is rarely one of them. It’s like going to an auto dealership and asking “Will this car explode when I attempt to drive it?” – probably won’t help you find the auto you’re looking for.

Anyways, the review above is worth reading – it gives many details about the landmark forum that would answer someone’s more reasonable questions.

March 9, 2010

It’s in Our Hands

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 12:04 am

I’ve heard a lot of talk about “the human potential movement” over the last few weeks, and sometimes I hate the term – it’s used to describe everything from corporate motivational seminars to firewalking to Tony Robbins to meditation on a mountaintop. In other words, it’s a term that often doesn’t really mean anything, since it lumps so many unlike things together.

So when a woman recently blogged about taking both the landmark forum and franklin covey’s 7 habits of effective people, and saying that they were both essentially pointing to the same thing, I was initially skeptical. I also winced a bit at her suggestion that each course was essentially that the barriers to success are in our own minds – it sounded a bit like the positive thinking thing that is often rightfully criticized. But after I read it over, I got what she is trying to say, and I think it’s pretty accurate, which is this:

‘Integrity and character form the heart of everything…the reason for all our misery is our compromise on these.” Sounds a bit like an obvious homily, but I think it also captures the heart of “the human potential movement”, if there really is one!

Said another way, who one is being and how one is acting ultimately determines our satisfaction and the results we produce in life, not just the circumstances. We spend a lot of time worrying about stuff that’s out of our hands (the circumstances), and probably not enough dealing with our end of the deal – how we react to those circumstances. And this is why “The human potential movement” is inward looking – not out of narcissism, or any inherent interest in the self, but because the self is the thing we actually have power over – we can’t change the world, or we can only by changing ourselves as the conduit to that change.

As the famous Tolstoy quote goes: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Check out the Live and Let Live blog.

March 2, 2010

Being Unreasonable

Filed under: Breakthrough Results, inspiration — Tags: , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 4:44 pm

I don’t think there is any idea in the Landmark Forum that is both more powerful and more misunderstood than the idea of being unreasonable. A Facebook page about Landmark led me to this blog, which shares how the idea of being unreasonable made a huge difference in his life when he was dealing with having cancer.

The way we usually mean it, calling someone ‘unreasonable’ means someone who refuses to recognize reality – someone who is unfair or blind. That’s not what’s being said here. Rather, it literally means being someone who isn’t run by reasons.

You could say that our minds are brilliant analytical machines. They can look at a hundred pros and cons of a situation, and give you seventy good reasons to do something and thirty good reasons not to. When we are being ‘reasonable’, our actions are dictated by the weight of what the most ‘good reasons’ tell us to do. In general, this is a very useful way to operate; it’s probably what’s had us survive and thrive as a species.

However, there can be a couple of problems with this approach to life. One is that our minds are excellent at coming up with reasons to support our current worldview. For instance, if I want to do something but I’m afraid to do it, our mind can come up with a thousand reasons to justify our fear, to say why it can be done later, and generally justify why we should keep doing what we’re doing. You could say one of our mind’s jobs is to have us avoid danger, so if something looks in any way risky, our mind will find many reasons not to pursue something.

So while the mind is good at maintaining things the way they are, the reasons our mind comes up with are often not useful when you really want something outside of the way things are predictably going. In such a case, being ‘unreasonable’ is what’s called for. This doesn’t mean ignoring reasons and facts, but simply not being a slave to them.

To put it in real world terms, the blogger was dealing with an aggressive course of chemotherapy for his cancer and barely had the strength to walk. Nonetheless, as soon as his course of treatments were over, he registered for the Ride To Conquer Cancer, a 260 kilometre ride to raise money for a Cancer charity. His health gave him a host of reasons not to do this, but it was what he wanted, for such a bold act filled him with excitement and optimism and gave him a future.

He hired a personal trainer, went to work, and had a life-altering experience, a new sense of what he could accomplish, as he crossed the finish line. It never would have happened if he was a slave to his reasons.

I would go so far as to say that when we get really inspired by someone, it’s because they went beyond what they thought they were capable of, beyond what one could reasonably expect of them to achieve something extraordinary. This is why I find Olympic athletes so inspiring – they have a dedication and commitment to extraordinary performance that goes far beyond what would be considered an acceptable or ‘reasonable’ effort.

Go read Tim Stringer’s blog for yourself.

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