Last night was the final session of my Landmark Advanced Course.
I didn’t think this could top the Forum I took back in February, but I was wrong. The Forum is about personal transformation whereas the Advanced Course is about transformation on the level of Group. They chose this level as the focus because that’s where most human beings are disempowered. Ever notice that many people behave a certain way when you’re one-on-one, but in a group they behave differently? Sometimes drastically so.
I noticed this with groups of friends, particularly when I was younger. One-on-one we could talk about all sorts of things and get up to all sorts of activities and have a good time, but once one, two, three, or more other people joined, the interactions often became much more superficial, and often tinged with negativity like insults and the like - jokingly of course… but I sometimes wondered about that. Turns out it just comes from the Act we all put on to protect ourselves. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable, and most of us feel precisely that way in groups, so we put up a front.
The Advanced Course addresses that. One exercise in particular is designed to help participants feel more comfortable around people. Imagine standing face to face, nose to nose, with another human being for.. I’m not sure how long it was.. ten minutes? fifteen? And the whole time, saying nothing, not moving, fidgeting, or looking away. Just being with another. A whole group of people in fact. And that was only part of the exercise.
The experience also included being accountable to the group, but not in the disempowering way we usually are. The “game” for the weekend was that everyone wins. So there was no singling out one person to blame when things went wrong. Either we all won, or no one won. And by the end of the weekend, we all won.
And then on Monday I had a chance to test out my new perspective. I found myself faced with a difficult situation, that I had created through a mistake I had made prior to the weekend. On Monday I had no choice but to fix the mistake, and had it been prior to my experiences with Landmark, it would have cost much more and been filled with drama. Instead, I was able to address the issue, not people, and without laying blame or ‘passing the buck.’ By the end of the day I was able to end up with the outcome I required, even though more than a few of the people I had to deal with told me that it was not possible due to various policies and rules, and for only a nominal fee (which I paid myself, even though it was work-related… sure I could probably get reimbursed, but it was my own mistake, and I have no problem taking full responsibility for it). Only one of the people I had to deal with left the situation feeling jilted, though that had nothing to do with my actions, and everything to do with his story about it all - out of everyone he was the most adamant that what I was asking was impossible. I say he left jilted because we were on a conference call, and while one of the participants on the call and I said our thank-you’s, you’re welcome’s and good-bye’s, he silently left the call. No matter, that’s just part of his Act. Hopefully he takes something positive away from some of the things I said over the course of the interaction, and notices that at no point did I blame him, raise my voice with him, or otherwise make him wrong. I simply asked that he treat me as a human being as I did him.
And now my whole life is that game. Everyone wins.