By Jonathan Timar 86 Comments

How I Really Feel About Landmark Education

I have previously written about Landmark Education, first in an article in which I describe my initial reaction to being introduced to the Landmark Forum, and then shortly afterwards I wrote a piece in which I enthusiastically described what an amazing experience I found the Landmark Forum to be.

I still stand by what I wrote in those articles.

However, nearly two years have gone by since I first partook in the Landmark Forum, and since that time I have had a lot more experience with the Landmark Education organization that I now feel compelled to write about.

Immediately after taking the Landmark Forum I was on an incredible high. The experience for me was so profound that, as with any powerful drug, I immediately found myself wanting more.  Luckily for me, Landmark has “more” in abundant supply as the Landmark Forum is but the first part in a three course series known as the Landmark Curriculum for Living. A lofty name that does little to temper one’s expectations.

The details are a little fuzzy, but if I didn’t sign up for the Advanced Course during the Forum itself, I certainly did shortly after as within a few weeks I found myself back inside the Landmark classroom, this time as part of the so-called Advanced Course. Unlike when I first stepped into the room for the Landmark Forum, I had no sense of trepidation this time around. One the contrary, I was excited. I was looking forward to the breakthroughs that were surely on the horizon for me. The Landmark Forum had truly changed my life, and opened me up to doing and experiencing things I never imagined I was capable of. If the Forum had been powerful, surely this would advance that power to a whole new level.

I was about to be profoundly disappointed.

The Landmark Forum that I attended had been led by a warm and kind lady with whom I instantly liked and respected. She was funny, and conveyed the material through personal anecdotes and joked. Never once did she yell, or even raise her voice substantially. This was significant to me as I had heard many stories prior to my participation of Landmark Leaders shouting at participant or belittling them into submission.

My experience in the Advanced Course was decidedly different.  My course was led by a lady well into her seventies who wore a permanent look of scorn on her face. She was hard as nails, and often spat them. I took an intense dislike to her. At one point, I believe on the second day, I was seven seconds late returning from a meal break. I know it was seven seconds because upon returning to the room out of breath (I knew I was going to be late, so I had been running in hopes of sneaking in on time) I was ordered to stop at the back of room. The leader then announced to me that I was indeed seven seconds late and proceeded to lecture the room for at least a half hour on our lack of integrity, and our failure to honour our “agreement” for the course, which was to be on time. I ended up paying a visit to the centre manager to share my distaste and anger over the way this woman was treating the participants. This was a fruitless exercise as Landmark staff is well prepared for these sorts of issues and knew all the right things to say to smooth it over and leave me feeling like I was the one with the problem after all. Nevertheless, after that incident I essentially resolved to stay for no reason other than to ensure that I got what I paid for.

The trouble is I wasn’t really sure what that was. I had expected something that built upon The Landmark Forum, but all I was experiencing was repetition. It didn’t seem advanced so much as a re-mix.

Additionally I noticed something about the participants. While the group in my Landmark Forum represented a wide cross-section of society, the Advanced Course seemed to have a much larger contingent of the “I need therapy, please fix me” types of people. They constantly took up time at the front of the room whining about petty problems that made me wonder how they managed to make it through the Landmark Forum and not learn a damn thing. These people were profoundly annoying and seriously dampened my enjoyment of the course.

Despite all that I did eventually have something that at the time seemed like a major breakthrough on the third day (in Landmark, if you cry, it’s a breakthrough). And our dear leader revealed that she had been putting on a bit of a show, she wasn’t the cruel bitch she had been pretending to be, but actually a very kind and caring person (she even gave me a hug). With this new dose of feel-good, I happily signed up for the final component of the Curriculum for Living, The Self Expression and Leadership Program.

And this is where Landmark lost me.

I signed up for the SELP, as it is generally known, on the final day of my Advanced Course, which was some time in 2010. I did not end up taking the course until September of 2011.

As it happened the session I had signed up for was due to start on the same day that one of my best friends was getting married. I contacted the leader to let him know I would need to change to a different start date and his reaction floored me. Rather than being an understanding human being, he accused me of trying to avoid my commitments and asked me to look at where I was being inauthentic about this issue. He made attempts to guilt me into staying with the session I had signed up for, and even went as far to suggest I should attend the course anyway and then leave early to go to the wedding. As the location of the wedding was at least a two-hour drive from downtown Vancouver where the Landmark centre is located, this was a laughable proposition. He ultimately relented, but left me with a sour taste in my mouth and little desire to complete the SELP, and certainly not with him leading the course.

Month went by and I went on with my life and I did do much thinking about Landmark. I met the amazing woman who is now my fiancée (and yes, I do credit the Landmark Forum to some degree in making that meeting possible), and we started living a life together.

As time when on, and as life settle into a routine, I began to wonder if it was time that I completed what I had started, that being the Landmark  Curriculum for Living. After all, the course was already paid for; I might as well tackle that SELP. I called up the centre and scheduled myself into the next available session that was not being led by the gentlemen who had, frankly, been such an asshole to me regarding my need and desire to attend my friend’s wedding.

Absence makes the heart grow more objective.

So here I was. Over a year had passed and once again I was sitting within the familiar four walls of the Landmark Education classroom, this time for the first workday of the Self Expression and Leadership Program. I had no idea what to expect from this course, and so my mind was wide open to the possibilities. Unlike the precious two courses, the SELP does not take place over an intensive three-day weekend, but rather is spaced over a period of about four months and consists of three full day workdays held on Saturdays every month or so, and Tuesday evening classroom sessions. The only difference between the classrooms and the workdays is that the workdays are much longer and have a three-hour recruiting session for the Landmark Forum tacked on at the beginning of the day.

The first day of the SELP can only be described as excruciatingly boring. I kept waiting patiently for it to get to the good part, expecting that at any moment the leader was going to offer up something profound.

It never happened.

The intensity and focus that made the Landmark Forum and the Advanced Course so powerful was entirely absent from the SELP. The name Landmark gives to the sessions that make up the SELP could not be more appropriate, you really do feel as though you are a student in a lecture hall. It is a struggle to pay attention; in fact it’s a struggle to stay awake. I dozed off more times than I can count over the course of the program. It was not the fault of the leader, a truly wonderful lady who commuted from Vancouver Island on a weekly basis to lead the course, all out of the goodness of her heart and a belief in what she was doing as, unlike Forum and Advanced Course leaders, SELP leaders are unpaid volunteers.  No, it was definitely the fault of the material.

The many problems with the SELP

The material of the SELP is, well, there really is no material. Aside from a few new twists on some old concepts everything in the SELP is recycled. The difference is that instead of cramming it into one fun-filled weekend, it’s doled out slowly over several months. It seems to me that Landmark blows it’s proverbial load (and please, if my crassness offends you, skip this paragraph) with the Forum, summons up a valiant effort for another go around with the Advanced Course, and then struggles along desperately trying to extend the experience with the SELP when it should really have quit after round two and just enjoyed the afterglow (and let its participants do the same).

The first major problem with the SELP is that it is woefully misnamed. The name would certainly give the impression that self-expression is a major component of the course. I didn’t find this to be the case at all, unless you accept the Landmark definition of being self-expressed which I honestly don’t remember but I am pretty sure it was inane and silly.

In reality the framework for the course is very rigid and leaves little room for real self-expression. Each participant is expected to complete a “community project” the details of which I will omit for brevity and because they really aren’t important. Each project must be vetted and approved by a panel of coaches (more on them later). Then, during the course of the program each participant is required to complete weekly action plans, which among other things include spaces for the participant to list people they plan to speak to about the Landmark Forum.

This is a recurring theme in the SELP, getting people signed up for the Landmark Forum. The official line is that it really isn’t about the Forum, but that it’s just practice for having “registration conversations” with people for other areas of your life. I might accept that logic is it weren’t for those pesky three-hour Landmark Forum introductions that happen on every Saturday session, and that SELP participants are strongly pressured to bring their friends and family too, or the family night (they call it map night, in reference to the “map” of one’s social groups that each participant creates on a manila card at the beginning of the course) in which much the same thing happens. Near the end of my course, one participants had become so disillusioned by the constant pressure to bring other people into the Landmark fold that they had a tearful breakdown at the front of the room in which she lamented that she had gotten so much out of The Forum, and she so dearly wanted to be able to share it with her loved ones, but that she couldn’t do it now because her experience in the SELP had shown her that they wouldn’t be “safe” and that they would be bombarded with pressure to become salespeople for Landmark. I empathised with her.

When the focus is not on signing up new people for the Landmark Forum you can safely bet that a huge chunk of each classroom will be spent by having various Landmark representatives spend more than a few minutes plugging some other “must do” Landmark Education course, the benefits of which they can never fully articulate but only promise that it’s “like nothing else” and “on a whole new level” and other completely unverifiable statements.

But let’s get back to the coaches.  I have some issues with the fact that the coaches are totally unqualified individuals, some of whom have not even completed their own SELP course at the time they begin coaching others. Most of them are truly exceptional and well-meaning individuals, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for them to be doing what they do. I learned to dread the calls of my coach (each participant is expected to have a weekly “coaching call”) because I didn’t want to have to explain what I was or wasn’t doing on a project I never wanted to do in the first place. The guilt trips were inevitable and I believe based on training that the coaches are given by Landmark. Many of the coaches were missing in action by the end of course, which is just as well as so were half of the participants.

I particularly took issue with the “head coach” for the course, a very obese woman, who had difficulty walking. I harbour no ill will to people with weight issues, in fact I feel for them greatly. But the idea that someone who is eating themselves to death is qualified to be a life coach of any kind is ludicrous in my mind, and it seriously hurt the credibility of the course for me from the very beginning.

I could go one, but suffice it to say I didn’t get much out of the SELP, and despite being offered the chance for a free do over, I don’t imagine I will ever revisit this one.

The phone calls

Landmark loves to call you. They like to check in, and make sure you’re doing okay. What that really means is that they want to check in and see if you’re ready to sign up for another course, or at least come back and volunteer your time so you can stay in the game.

Frankly, this ticks me off to no end. I have a hard time saying no when I am caught off guard on the telephone, and when you do say no to Landmark, they ALWAYS have a response. They also like to call from private numbers just in case you are screening your calls to avoid having deal with them.

I admit I am doing this right now because I got roped into volunteering during a surprise phone call I answered when my guard was down. I do not have the time to volunteer with Landmark, nor do I wish to do so anyway. I have had Landmark overload.

I suppose it’s more than a little inauthentic of me, but in this case I don’t really care.

So where do I really stand on Landmark Education?

It’s a tough question. Really it is.

I would still recommend the Landmark Forum to anyone who is looking for some insight into themselves, and into life in general. It truly is a powerful experience for most people, and for those that it isn’t I can’t see how it hurts. There are still people in my life who I would love to see take the Landmark Forum as I believe it would benefit them greatly.

The Advanced Course is good too, though it’s completely optional, IMO.

That’s where I’d end it though.

As for the million dollar question: Is Landmark Education a cult?

Nope. Its marketing techniques however make it very much like the Amway of personal development. Except unlike your average multi-level marketing company, Landmark Education expects you to harass, and potentially alienate, your friends and family for free, not just peanuts. And, like many MLMs, the product is excellent. It’s just unfortunate their method of marketing it is so obnoxious.

86 Comments

86 Comments:

  • May I suggest two books? One describes est – Erhard Seminar Series (the precursor to Landmark Education) in details, and the other is about Werner Erhard himself. Whether you took LM forum or not, those books might be interesting and helpful reads for you:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0068ZT1WE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0068ZT1WE&linkCode=as2&tag=inthelime-20&linkId=WSFI27SHHUIK4ZQN

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0517535025/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0517535025&linkCode=as2&tag=inthelime-20&linkId=FC3KUO6FWUO7DHPT

    Finally, you may be interested to watch this movie:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0849480/?ref_=fn_al_nm_10a

  • I have just come across this post and comments. It really struck a chord with me, as I feel very conflicted about my Landmark experience.

    I have just finished the Advanced Course weekend in Australia. I almost left on more than one occasion as I felt the level of pressure to attend the next course (SELP) was inappropriate, especially when we were being asked to sign up late at night after a day of being emotionally battered. I said that I did not want to sign up to the next course on multiple occasions. Of course when I raised this I was told it was my ‘occurring’ that there was pressure (i.e. I am seeing it wrong and Landmark only wants me to have an extraordinary life). Not only was the pressure coming from Landmark, but from other participants. This was actually worse.

    The worst experience for me was at the end of the third day, when some of the more evangelising course participants got to the front of the room and were asking people to stand up if they had not signed up. This is not inspiring anyone to continue with the education, it is peer pressure. Myself and one other person stood up. The other person was embroiled in a debate which led to people offering money and accommodation for him to do the course. When I still said I did not wish to attend, I was called over by the course leader who had a chat to me about why I was holding myself back and creating rackets about Landmark. I was nearly in tears at this point, emotionally exhausted and ended up signing up. I now really regret this, as I only signed up as I didn’t want to be singled out any more. In Landmark speak I was ‘inauthentic’. I am going to raise this with the Landmark office, but I can already imagine what the response will be…

    The thing which sits badly with me around ‘enrolling’ people to attend introduction sessions is the subtext that if you do not invite people to attend a session, you are somehow depriving them of an extraordinary life. It seems beyond the comprehension of a lot of the volunteers/supervisors/converts that someone can be extraordinary without Landmark.

    Yes, I feel I have benefitted from some of what Landmark teaches. I have met some lovely people, who have obviously greatly benefitted from the Landmark education. However, the other side (as I see it) of Landmark has really detracted from this for me.

  • They lost me during the Advanced Course. I am going back to living my “ordinary” life as a successful venture capitalist, Being Landmark extraordinary is exhausting.

    The main goal of the Advanced course was “everybody gets it”. I.e. that everyone in the course registers for SELP and everybody in our lives registers for Forum, so we can all master reality, identity, self and making a difference.

    The educational part of the course consisted of:
    1. I have acts that I revert to get my way (like me / I can figure it out)
    2. My reality is created by the language I use.
    3. From nothing, I can create myself as the possibility of XXX. I.e. “ending gay teen suicide”
    4. By expanding the way the occurring world how I see it, will increase my performance (want to be fit… become an Olympian)
    5. Leadership (what Landmark calls enrollment) takes courage, takes integrity, takes sharing a vision, and is outside the world of the ordinary. No shit Sherlock.

    About 50% of the time was spent on registration. It was brutal. I was a group leader, and told my group that I would cover for them not registering.

    Awesome Blog BTW. Thank you. And I am in Vancouver too.

    Brian.

  • Thanks so much for this article, Jon.

    I took my forum in March, the advanced course soon after that, and started my SELP on May 10… Rolling through it all..

    I gotta say, the only one that I really feel is worth it, is the forum. I feel right now exactly how you felt about SELP, and I am considering dropping it. I just know I will be bombarded by the Landmark army and will be called nonstop.

    I’m sitting here, waiting for my weekly coaching call in 20 minutes, and I’m just dreading having to inauthentically talk to my couch about what I have become “present” to throughout the week.

    I literally just stumbled upon this article as I was trying to google what that “from nothing, who I am is the possibility of…” Quote is , and I’m happy I did, because this entire time I’ve heard no one tell me anything other than how much they LOVED SELP. I’m glad I’m not the only one who hates it…

  • Thank you for sharing Jon.

    I also thrashed about and resisted throughout my Self Expression And Leadship Program and even did the same through the Introduction Leader Program. Death of Self is a bitch.

    Today I look back at myself and laugh. How much I resist being great. How powerful is that identity that wants to keep me safe an small.

    Landmark Worldwide is a exploration into Otonology, the Study of Being.

    This has been replicated over and over and transcends nation, dialect, religion, etc.

    So people understand the structure of Landmark, it is an Employer Owned Corporation where the Employer-Owners have never taken a profit out of the company.

    One of the best lesson I obtained out of the Self Expression and Leadership Program was that of service. I am so rewarded by assisting others get what is important for them out of their lives.

    “I thought I was here for me, I’m not.”

    Always remember the first word of the Declaration of Independece.

      • Jonathon:

        It’s interesting to notice that when people make comments you agree with, you assume they are speaking from an empowered and authentic place- while, when people disagree with you, you write them off as towing some party line (and poke fun at them). I find myself doing that sometimes, too. It took effort for me not to do that to you, and to instead choose to take the time to write this comment.

        I had a 5-hour-each-way-journey to all the sessions of my Self-Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) during the middle of the coldest winter here since I was born. I had lots of resistance, lots of “I don’t wanna,” lots of “stop telling me what to do,” lots of “these people are TOO happy- they’re faking it!” And, what I saw halfway through, while I was pouting in the back one night, rolling my eyes at the very excited girl in front of the room- was that I got to say what I got out of all this work. I got to say why all this time and energy was worth it. And, if I kept doing it the way I was, it sure wasn’t going to be worth much.

        I assert that you know this, too. I can hear it in what you say you got out of the Landmark Forum. You know that what you get out of the Forum, out of the Advanced Course, out of the SELP, out of anything you participate in in life is totally up to you- and it all begins with what you say about it. You know that you are way too powerful of a person to say that what you get out of a program has to do with how obese the leader is.

        Maybe you’re right. And maybe I’m just a Landmarkian, too. And yet, I don’t think life is about being right. I think life is about loving it, and helping others to love it, too! And I say that my SELP has helped me do that more fully.

        If that’s not the case for you, that’s more than fine. And still, it seems unfair to write off everyone who is creating something else (such as Billy here) as merely “Landmarkian” (whatever that even means) simply because your experience has been less awesome.

        I, for one, am really glad that you did the SELP. It sounds like it gave you a lot of inisght into the nature of pressure and expectations in your life and in groups. It also sounds like you have some feedback for the people responsible for designing that program, and I would invite you to share that feedback (it sounds like you spoke to someone already, and yet this doesn’t seem to have resolved this for you). The courses are constantly undergoing revision, and like many good things that now exist in the world (such as the right for women to vote), it begins with someone voicing a complaint to someone who can do something about it.

  • I just started the SELP two days ago, and already I am having the same feelings you described about it. After the forum and the advanced course, I was sure the SELP would be amazing, and I was really excited by the idea of a personal project. In fact, I signed up for the sole purpose of doing the project. After the first day though, I am wondering if I should just do it on my own without Landmark. I absolutely detest the marketing scheme; I don’t want to convince anyone else to register! My location also changed the dates after I paid for it and it really messed up my schedule, because they didn’t tell us until the first day and I’ve already told work when I need off and planned vacations around the SELP. I’m considering dropping it, even though I probably won’t get my money back.

    • Hi Mehreen,

      In my totally biased opinion, I would drop it. If I had it to do over again I would have. I kept falling for the promises that it was going to get better, but it never did. It ended up being a huge waste of time, and actually completely sucked away my enthusiasms for a project I otherwise would have done.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  • Great blog! I had a great experience at the NY Landmark Forum and I watched both my brother and my girlfriend totally “transform.” I’m talking incredible, inspiring transformations. I am very glad we all participated. Alas, recent interactions with Landmark and some honest reflection on my part have required me to recognize the coercive, double-speaky side of Landmark as very real, very much in their blindspot, and very much at odds with what one would expect from an organization filled with transformed people. In the end, all these criticisms are, for Landmark, a product of our own rackets, and that’s that. I understand why serious adherents feel this way – Landmark helped them transform their lives in seemingly miraculous ways. I know the feeling! I understand not wanting to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. But there comes a point where we cross a line from accepting that a certain unavoidably imperfect machinery is required to keep the transformational experiences flowing, to apologizing for indoctrinated mindlessness. I wish the latter were not real, as Landmark had been an absolute revelation to me. I remain committed to extolling the awesomeness I experienced at Landmark while at the same time retaining my critical faculties.

    • Thanks Bryan!

      I remain committed to extolling the awesomeness I experienced at Landmark while at the same time retaining my critical faculties.

      Looks like you and I are part of a small minority that manages to strike that balance. Cheers.

  • I took the forum and adv course. I found them to be very helpful. I attended day 1 of Selp and got bored. I stuck around for those weekly coaching sessions. Today I asked if I could transfer that credit to the Success series. They said no. The selp leader tried to make me feel like I have commitment issues and inauthenticity. I didn’t find selp useful for me and didn’t want to invest more time. Oh well, kiss my money bye bye. And yes, every other class is a recruiting session. It gets tiring.

  • Hi,

    I do appreciate your share on how your experience with landmark has occurred for you. I completely understand it and have felt a lot of those feelings.. I have to add though that taking the SELP course is where i REALLY got the landmark education. I understand now that everything you said above is true for you but may not be true for everyone. You mentioned a lot of stories and rackets you have with landmark… which we ALL have. But one thing I will note, at least in my experience, is that they never EVER make me feel WRONG about any of my stories, choices or rackets. They will take a stand for you to be the most powerful human being you can be who is not stopped by their reasons. For example your situation with going to the wedding. They were taking a stand for you to see if you would somehow create the possibility of doing both and seeing if you could make that possible for yourself. In the end though, it’s up to you to choose what you want to do. They do NOT make you feel bad about your decision.. I realize the guilt or the negative feelings you get afterwards are really caused by you…

    I felt guilty all the time for being late but I realized I was letting myself feel that guilt.. it’s a pointless feeling and unnecessary. So I chose no longer to feel guilt, instead I take responsibility because I did give my word that I would be on time to the event and then I create a new agreement and put something into place to restore my integrity. This benefits both parties, Ive restored their trust and faith in my word and actions and I feel better too because I really feel powerful in that moment.

    I challenge you to really take on the education and fight through your rackets! I totally have and it’s made everything so much clearer for me. Landmark is really working to transform the world and create people who stand for possibilities, are true to their word and commitments!

    Thanks for your insight! :)
    Katya

  • Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Landmark and creating a platform for other people to share on the topic!

    I have completed several courses and seminars with Landmark(LM) since 2011. I’m amazed at how the results I’ve gotten from participating at Landmark always exceeds my initial goals. That’s not to say that they are perfect in my eyes, but what man made endeavor is perfect. I’ve lived long enough to know for sure that, “EVERYTHING AINT FOR EVERYBODY”!

    Although, I do respect everyone’s point of view about LM, I also get that those opinions don’t really mean anything, including my own. Everyone is going to hold their experience of LM differently, because we are all unique.

    I’m fascinated by the contrast in stories and interpretations that people have about the same thing. For ex. Landmark does promote their products via staff, graduates, and volunteers. So, while I don’t mind it at all and will freely choose to participate in that marketing activity myself, someone else will feel pressured and turned off.

    The question I have for all the commenters is whether they think the story they have about landmark is actually true?

    I get that my experience of LM is not the “Truth”, but only my experience. The one distinction from LM that has made a real difference in the way that I operate is the ability to separate what actually happened from my story/interpretation of what happened and know it’s a story I created.

    I’m reading a lot of comments on here where people are stating their personal opinions as fact and that tends to distort things.

    Thanks for allowing me to share.

    • I of course welcome everyone to comment here, but I have to say whenever a die-hard Landmarker shows up and starts speaking Landmarkese my eyes just glaze over. It’s amazing how Landmark manages to teach people to spout such empty and meaningless nonsense while thinking it profound.

      I can’t help but think, “if you could only hear yourself”. I used to speak Landmarkese, but only to other Landmark people. I was conscious of how idiotic it would sound in general society. Unfortunately most Landmark folks don’t seem to realize this, or care.

      • Hi Jonathan,

        You basically just told me that my previous post was “IDIOTIC”. That’s cool! Since you can’t understand the language I’m using, real dialogue is out of the question! So I’ll end my participation here.

        Thank You

        • I actually did not call you “idiotic”, as you claim. That’s just your story about what I said, which is separate from what I actually said. I get that.

          Trust me, I know the language.

          Cheers.

        • I think your comments were well articulated and I certainly do not see where you think Jonathan’s comments would make you feel “idiotic”. I have a friend who is a graduate of several Landmark courses and uses this language incessantly. It is annoying especially when it comes out in the business world in front of clients who have no idea what is being talked about. In Landmark meetings and among Landmarkians, fine. It can be like your own personal code. Like my friend, the “Racket” (to use your vernacular) you and for that matter Landmark Education has in my opinion is this: None of you seem open to any criticism of the language, syllabus or company.

          Have a great day.

  • Dear Jonathan:

    I would like to thank you for hosting this extremely lively and intelligent discussion and everyone who has commented both for and against Landmark Education. I will be the first (well maybe not the first) to admit that I have not attended a Landmark class and from what I have read and heard am probably happy. My reason for writing however is a little bit out of the ordinary from what has been posted here.

    A friend of mine is “enrolled” in the courses having taken the Forum and the Advanced course. Although she said she was finished, I found out through other people that she had enrolled in I believe they call it the Seminar Series and had completed 9 of 10 sessions. She has started using language that I don’t understand and her logic has become very circular to the extent that it is difficult to have a logical conversation. Apparently critical thinking is frowned upon or so I was told.

    I overheard a very good discussion between several “Landmarkians” that I know and the range of comments varied from total bliss after the course to someone actually saying, and I quote “I will go ahead and say it, Landmark is a cult”. Very worrisome. My situation is now compounded by the fact that because of financial difficulties, she has asked me to lend her the money to participate in another advanced course costing several hundred dollars. Also, the other day, her boss who I have known for several years, asked me out of the blue if this person was in a cult.. I am not sure where he got his information but I do know that she has been trying to recruit several other employees (I think this is an important part of the Landmark curriculum). I just told him (for the moment) that she was taking courses and that I wasn’t aware of the content..

    It is a quite delicate situation and as such any objective feedback as to what Landmark is all about would be greatly appreciated.

    My mind has not been made up as to how to proceed so I look forward to future comments.

    Thanks,

    Ken

    • Hello Ken,

      First of all, I can say fairly confidently that Landmark is not a cult, at least not in the classic sense. There’s no dogma, no one is chasing a comet, etc. Landmark is pretty much what it says it is, a personal development company.

      That being said, there is a certain type of person who participates in Landmark courses that never wants to stop, and they most certainly start behaving as if they are in a cult. I would say for the most part these are folks with addictive personalities form the start, and Landmark makes them feel good just like a drug would, and it becomes the drug of choice for them. Some people choose religion, some people choose actual drugs, and some choose Landmark. whatever it is, they become stuck in the “process” of “working on” things, and never really get anyway. It was these sorts of people who ultimately drove me away from Landmark, I just couldn’t stand being around them. I don’t agree that Landmark discourages critical thinking, but if you’re weak in that department to begin with Landmark certainly isn’t going to help.

      Landmark doesn’t advertise, and relies exclusively on referrals to get new business. And they push it really hard. There is a lot of pressure to bring other people to the introduction evenings, etc. It’s obnoxious for sure, but it stops short of being a cult, it’s more like combining personal development with buying a TV from Best Buy. Despite the secrecy, there’s nothing terribly esoteric about what Landmark teaches, they just deliver it in such a way that it has a lot of impact.

      As I have mentioned before, I actually still think very highly of the early Landmark courses, they did help me, and if I had to do it over again I would. Lululemon pays for all its employees to take the Forum after a year of service, and I understand why, it can help a healthy, grounded individual achieve much more out of life. Unfortunately a lot of not-so-grounded people are attracted to Landmark and this is why Landmark ends up earning a bad name. If I were in charge I’d work much harder to screen these people out, but I’m not in charge.

      As for your friend, I wouldn’t give her any money as I don’t think anyone has any business taking any kind of course like Landmark if they can’t actually afford it. But I also wouldn’t worry about her too much, she’ll either get what she needs out of Landmark and move on, or she won’t and it will become her expensive social club for a while. Either way I doubt any harm will come to her, aside form annoying the heck out of her friends.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  • Landmark maybe many things, but it is definitely whatever a person allows it to be for them. I have never allowed myself to be talked into anything nor waited for something to be given/presented to me.

    I took it as reading a book. If something strikes me then great I get the benefit, if not then well it simply didn’t. No energy for what didn’t occur or what didn’t fit my expectation. I can say the compete shift how I see people and approach life now all because I allowed myself to hear something that was said and how it applied me. Something that would of never happened without the way the looking at something, situation or myself any other way.

  • Hi Jonathon,

    Thank you for your article, it just about summed up my own personal experience! And many thanks to the others who commented, I saw a lot of my experience in their comments as well.

    In short, I did the Forum, then the seminar series, got invited to join the Introductions Leaders program (I felt so SPECIAL!), completed the Communication curriculum, did the Advanced course, all in the shortest period of time, and I honestly feel that the best thing I got from Landmark was quitting ILP and learning to stand up for myself despite intense pressure from my coach and program leaders,

    Landmark doesn’t encourage or teach personal boundary setting, and I think this is why so many people who have trauma or abuse in their history are attracted to it. They don’t know that the way they are being treated and spoken to is inappropriate. And they don’t know that it is okay to say no, and not be made wrong for it.

    A lot of the pressure from ‘coaches’ and program leaders is because they have agreed to be accountable for certain measures, and they feel completely justified to guilt someone into bringing guests to an introduction. They are just using the same techniques that their coaches used on them, and they don’t really know the impact, because if you show any resistance it becomes your racket or story that is the problem, and not their communication style.

    I did get a lot out of Landmark, don’t get me wrong. But I totally agree, it has its place and once its run its course, leave. A friend of mine was doing SELP after I quit, and he said he had gotten a lot out of it but he wanted to quit as well, except other participants were cautioning against it, saying, “I left once but I came back – life wasn’t as good when I wasn’t part of the conversation”. I just told him, bollocks, that’s just more jargon terminology crap that gets thrown around a lot – follow your heart.

    From reading your comments, I really appreciate the way you communicate with people who have left comments and the way you wrote the article. It seems authentic and honest, and not at all like something you could have learnt in a few three-day courses. It seems like it is known and from the heart. This is something that is lacking in so many ‘graduates’, full to the brim with buzz-words and fluff (I was one of these people!).

    Thanks again,
    Tanya

    • Thanks Tanya.

      I think you summed it up so there’s not much more I can add at this point.

      I too got a lot out of Landmark, but they key for me was absolutely knowing when enough was enough. Even then it wasn’t easy, they poured the guilt on thick (though when I suggested that was happening they, of course, denied it and called that a “story”). Then they offered to let me re-take the SELP for free, which I considered briefly. Anything to keep you “in”.

      Even today I suspect they keep an eye on me. Occasionally I get a comment here that is full of the “lingo” and I know that a Landmark person has stopped by. Usually these comments try to be sneaky, they start off pretending to be on my side and then shift into criticism. One person who is mentioned in this article recently started following me on a couple of social networks as well.

      Anyway, thank you for your kind words.

      ~Jonathan

  • Hi Jonathan,

    Great review of the forum. You candidly say what everyone else in the room is really thinking.

    This year I have completed the forum and the advanced course and have just started the SELP course.

    My introduction to the forum came through my new boss who “enrolled” me before I even started my employment there, to go check out an introductory evening that his wife was leading and that there was no pressure to take the course.

    I went along, sat there for the first hour thinking I was going to a marketing seminar, then realised I’d stumbled into some “self help” program. I got lead into another room where I needed to complete the exercise and then was given the “option” to enrol. And by “option” I mean “no” was not an answer. Anyway, i was lucky enough that my work was paying for it as my training. I still went home pretty pissed off that night and landmark had already left a bad impression before it had even started.

    As the weeks led up to my forum though, I decided to do some research to see what it was all about and as everyone is well aware, it gets a pretty bad rap.

    I attended my forum with all this in mind and refused to participate and just get through it for the sake of my job and to tell my management team, all of whom are graduates and seminar leaders, that I had done it. Even though I wasn’t participating, incas still taking on board everything that was being said. Being a logical person, the reasoning behind the human psyche made a lot of sense to me. I did leave at one stage as I had a splitting headache and ducked outside for some fresh air and water where someone came to check up on me and ask what I thought. I gave her my honest opinion and that while I agree with their thought process, I can’t buy into their way of life.

    It got to a point on Saturday evening, after the whole hypnosis/facing your fears drama (which I didn’t partake in, I am not one to get involved with anything that involves going into a trance like state, I don’t even do drugs for that reason) where one of the course assistants pulled me aside, asked me what my problem was and said I looked like a “f wit” sitting there. I told him how I felt about the course and why I was there and ultimately told him I was pressured into being there by the sales women on the introduction evening. What he said next was quite interesting.

    He apologised to me and was quite candid about their sign up process and that each person has a target that they must sign up on any given evening. After he apologised, I actually felt a whole lot better about it and decided to give the rest of the weekend a go. After a chat with the forum leader, he encouraged me to just try it on and see where it goes.

    The best part of that particular weekend for me was the Genesis of identity conversation. After that conversation, I had a massive breakthrough in why I was the way I was. This caused me to have an authentic moment with my parents and reconnect with my sister whom I had been avoiding talking to for about 4 years. To be honest, just that alone wads probably worth the 3days of my life I sacrificed. If anything, it gave me more of an understanding of the peoples I am working with.

    I did sign up for the advance course and did that 4 weeks later. I decided to get stuck into it and became group leader for the weekend. I thought the advance course was great but didn’t really have any breakthroughs. However I did sign up for SELP as I was determined for to finish something for once in my life, something LM also made me realise.

    I was also due to start my seminar series, the integrity one. After 2 sessions, I dropped it. One, because it was so boring after doing the advance course. Two, the first half of the first session involved paperwork. The rest of it was about 30 mins on integrity, then the rest wads about involving others in your possibility by getting them to come along and signing them up to landmark. The second session was much the same. Three, I was starting my SELP a couple of weeks later and really didn’t want to spend 2 nights a week at landmark.

    Anyway, I actually was looking forward to my SELP course. I have a great business venture that I want to get off the ground that involving a specific community. Also being an advanced part of the curriculum, I assumed that the need to enrol people to do landmark would ease off.

    We’ll that was a huge NO. The first day dragged. The morning was all about paperwork, the middle was all about the distinctions we learnt in the forum and advanced course and they made it very clear that the coaches would be watching us and then fighting over who they wanted to coach. After the dinner break, it just got tedious. The remainder of the evening was all about enrolment discussions and low and behold, 2 parts of the assignment were all about having enrolment and registration conversations with people to come to the landmark forum. I kind of shrugged it off. I hadn’t done ANY enrolment in the forum or the advanced course, got a lot out of it, so certainly wasn’t going to start inviting people along now.

    Got given our coaches, who by the way, refused to tell us why they chose us/fought to have us under their wing. Then the next part pissed me right off as it made me feel like I was back in primary school.

    We had to schedule in call coaching times, for the rest of the course. I chose my date but said, I can’t do this dryads my parents are in tow and I’ll be spending the day with them, my parents whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years as I was away overseas. Well you can imagine what came next. A barrage of “make it happens” etc. in the end, I was so tired, my literal response to the leader and my coach was “fine, whatever”.

    The other thing that got to me was that she made us say what our possibility was to each other, but using the the full sentence, something like “from now, this is nothing blah blah blah”…

    I had my firsts scheduled coaching call this morning and the first thing she said was “we start each call with stating our possibility…”. I rolled my eyes and begrudgingly went along with it. Then she asked me if I had completed the assignment. I said no and that I had no intention of enrolling anyone into landmark and my reasoning why. Apparently now I am uncoachable and she has requested I have a meeting with one of the head coaches at the class tomorrow evening. I stated that I have already gotten a lot out of landmark without doing the enrolment and that I’m happy just to keep taking what I want and getting rid of what doesn’t work for me, a reality that was set in the forum. And even though she stated numerous times that’s he “got it”, clearly she didn’t as she said that I wouldn’t be able. To complete the course if I didn’t keep to my agreement and do all the assignments. Is aid that it’s not a priority for me so I actually couldn’t care less about it and that I’m happy to continue taking the bits I find relevant and ditching the rest. Sigh, needless to say, no more coaching calls for me.

    Overall, I have mixed feelings about landmark. Yes, I think the distinctions they teach are good and if used properly, can really help people set some things straight in their life like it did for me. On the other hand, the marketing and sales pitch they go ram down your throat gets far too unbearable. I actually said to my coach today that I am just about done with landmark.

    Like a previous poster said, if people ask me about landmark and whether they should do it, I would wholeheartedly say yes, but offer a serious disclaimer with it.

    I get that enrolment of landmark sits fine for some people and they want to make it their life’s mission to get everyone to do it, but it’s not mine. All I ask is that they let me enjoy it for what it is and leave it at that rather than leaving a bad taste in my mouth about it…

    I probably have more to add. Maybe later.

    Clive

    • I agree with you. I’m a slow learner and it was helpful to see useful explanations about why I am the way I am and how to override THAT and create new possibilities for myself. It IS like a new language one must learn the meaning of the words and how to speak the grammar. Having felt that I was never modeled a good way to be in the world, I found it useful. I did enjoy being among people who wanted to learn it and learning ‘it ‘included listening to and appreciating others, as well as encouragement to speak in a microphone to others. There are experiences required to being a leader that not everyone has in their life . For many reasons it was helpful but one must remain resolved to say ‘no’ when the time comes and accept it for what it is. Flexing a muscle, strengthening it, receiving encouragement along the way as learning how to touch, move and inspire people to cooperate in fulfilling first your own vision and hopefully eventually their own, is what the ostensible objective is. LM does use the exercises, reasoning and rationale to that end in the service of their organization, That ended up to just be ‘clever’ and maddening at the same time, but I did get better with practice. There is so much more to say but I’m done for now. For me it was worth the time and money. It is what it is and it helped me.

  • Thanks for the article! I actually have 2 really good friends that started taking the courses a year and a half ago at the same time I chose to quit my job of 12 years and pursue a personal passion of mine. In the past year and half i learned so much about myself, choices and business at the same time they were taking the courses, learning and encouraging me to attend.

    2 months ago i had self realization that I personally wanted to find a way to make a living in order to have the freedom sustain my passions and not be attached to one location – i guess in landmark terms create my possibility. With this realization and some work i started on another business venture which is coming along and close to launch.

    A couple weeks ago my friend asked me again to go to an introduction and this time I said yes. I went with an open mind and without any “googling” of Landmark.

    My thoughts of the introduction, as i told my friend, Landmark is an unbelievable marketing/sales system that also has a great product framework to creating personal transformations. She didn’t understand what i meant by “system” and I told her in that introduction night their every action, not story or experience told by people, had a purpose, intention and objective for enrolling people in a class or forum. This was seen from the flow of the entire introduction night:
    1. the first 2 hours: intro, leader stories, testimony and enroll pitch
    2. Break to enroll/sign up for a forum date – no asking just a time to enroll
    3. then the next hour and half: those who did not initially enroll during the break you are told to sample the curriculum or forum experience in another room (secondary sales pitch) and for those who did enroll you can sample what is to come in the other courses by staying the same room (why try to sell again when you have signed up)
    4. In the other room we went through the same as the first 2hrs but with actual work sampling, another enroll pitch and 1:1 with a leader to present you with 1:1 “coaching” with a clear objective to enroll

    I personally chose, after 4.25hrs (i stayed 15minutes over speaking to the leader) No to the forum because, as I told the leader, after listening to their offer the choice I needed to make for me at this time was to continue investing in me, my business and the path i choose and created for myself 8 weeks ago.

    He was very good presenting alternatives, questions and reasons why i needed the forum but I was firm and said no because: when you say Yes to something you dont want to do you open yourself to resenting the person or the thing you said yes to and I choose not to be or live in being resentful or opening myself to resent. The funny thing is he still had another question for me but in the end he understood and let me go on my way.

    For me I can only respect their system because it works for them. I told them that one day I will take the forum because i can see the results and benefits of the forum from my friends.

    For now I have chosen to learn from their marketing and product presentation techniques and create the possibility to be a great marketer for my business like they have done. So I think i may occasionally go to introduction nights with my friends so that I can practice my listening skills with leaders and coaches, practice talking about my story and business, learn from their methods of marketing and presenting but not signing up. Of course, if asked about my intentions, I will be honest and up front with them.

    Thanks again for an objective view of the program.

  • I really appreciate seeing this blog and the thoughtful posts today! My boss is a recent convert, and several key staff in my place of employment are hard core Landmark junkies. It took a casual mention of ‘filing for hostile workplace’ for the preaching around/to me to cease. – for which I am quite grateful.

    I am glad to learn a little more of the lingo here. The weird stuff that comes out of some of my colleagues mouths has, well, been weird for several months. Now I know I can roll my eyes (figuratively of course) and disregard.

    It’s sad to me to see people that I know well enough to know that they need some help. the exhibit all sorts of signs of OCD, depression, alcoholism, and other fun life changing challenges. Going to Landmark, even the ones who’ve apparently spent tens of thousands of dollars and taken, by their own account, every course available to them, hasn’t seemed to have helped, and I believe has made their situations worse. But, another hit of that purple koolaid next weekend, and I’m sure they’ll all be feeling much better about it…

    So, thanks very much for such a candid discussion here.!

    -Molls

    • Hi Molly,

      One issue I’d take with your comment is that I doubt anyone has ever spent “tens of thousands of dollars” with Landmark. When it comes down to it, Landmark’s courses are quite inexpensive.

      I don’t believe Landmark will ever “fix” anyone who has an addictive personality, it will become another addiction. This is precisely why I enjoyed each component of Landmark’s “curriculum for living” less than the last; the ratio of healthy well adjusted people to “self-improvement” addicted goofballs repeating the same old BS over and over got steadily worse.

      And yet through all of that, I don’t think Landmark is all bad. Those with strong boundaries and critical thinking skills who just feel “stuck in a rut” will likely find the Forum at least beneficial.

      Is those people who think EVERYONE *NEEDS* it that I have an issue with.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  • I really enjoyed Landmark Forum and the Advance course. Infact the Advance Course was my favourite.

    While I was doing the Advance course, I was very much pressured into doing the STEP program. Due to the pressures I signed up on it.

    I have been doing the STEP for a month now and even though the Leader and coach are great, I just don’t have the same passion and buzz as when I did the previous courses. I feel like dropping out of it.

    I don’t intend to not do anymore Landmark Courses as the Communications course does interest me.

  • Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks so much for your informative blog and especially all of these insightful and interesting comments.

    I finished the LM Forum 2 weekends ago, so I guess I’m still on the “high”. My fear going into it was that I’d be pressured into having to sign up for the advanced course while there, but no pressure was necessary for me, or the majority of the other 182 participants in L.A. So many gladly forked over their plastic cards on Tuesday night. They most definitely are experts at creating the possibility that they are the best damn marketing experts on the planet! lol.

    But seriously, I really did enjoy it and took so much away from it. If I only use the simplest tools – like not separating story from what happened for instance – how much easier my life can be. So like anything, I take the best and leave the rest. I find that the “LM lingo” for me exists just as a reminder. It’s kind of Pavlovian. Like when I hear the words “how does it occur for me”, I really do connect it to something. So while it’s outwardly really kind of annoying, it does serve a purpose.

    In any case, I’m really looking forward to the Advanced Course. Don’t know what will happen after that though. My 17 year old son will do the teen Forum after that and then we’ll be out of money for anything else! :)

    Best of luck to you….and all your “possibilities”!
    Valerie

    • Thank you Valerie. Through it all, I still believe that the Forum can be a valuable and life changing experience for people, if it comes at the right time in their life. But don’t feel like you’re doing anything *wrong* if you keep your guard up and avoid “The Landmark Treadmill”. It’s okay to get off.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your Landmark experience. It’s refreshing to hear an objective description of what is being taught and the marketing techniques that LM employs.
    I took the Forum last year after being recruited by someone I recently started dating. It wasn’t something I would have decided to do on my own, but it did sound interesting and went in with an open mind.
    I’m in my fifties, and had I taken the Forum when I was in my twenties or thirties, I think would have felt that high that so many people around me were experiencing. However, for me, it wasn’t all that inspiring. I do believe in the philosophies that they teach and that many people can benefit from their courses; it just wasn’t anything new for me. I have a job I really like, I enjoy my life, and pretty much live life in the present. Granted, it’s taken me many years to get to this point, but I like where I’m at right now. For the most part, the Forum leader was funny and charismatic. However, by the second day I was tired of the jargon and not very impressed with way he handled questions.
    As far as the man I was dating, he has been taking every course they offer. He swears that it has changed him for the better. He did dump me when I didn’t transform though. He had just gotten back from a leadership course and called me to tell me that he didn’t feel a connection; that he never did care about me or even think about me. All those things he said were just “possibilities”. He really felt though that I should take more Landmark courses because they had done so much for him… “He was so much more sensitive to other people now”.
    Anyway, I don’t know that I would recommend the Forum to anyone. It’s hard to say what kind of experience one may have, and much of it depends on the group leader and where they are in life.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing. I think that’s a very fair assessment. Certainly there was a lot of variation within the group I attended the forum with though I don’t feel the divide was based on age or any other clear distinction. I think like most things in life, timing is everything. If it’s the right time Landmark might give you the insight you need, and if not, well you already know.

      Of course all this applies only the the Forum itself, not so much to later courses in which the content becomes repetetive, and the only people who seems to continue to enjoy it are those who really, really like groupthink activities and being told what to do (which is why I fine the SELP so poorly named). The same type of people who might otherwise really enjoy religious assembly or network marketing are, I think, quite at home in Landmark over the long term.

  • Hi Jonathon

    I looked up this Landmarks thing because my worker is recruiting me hard to attend a forum thing. I just don’t want to do it – just because, no reason, just doesn’t feel right to me. I reckon everyone finds what they need, no problem, there are many ways to skin a cat. If Landmarks is your thing all power to you, mine happens to be something else (not that she would know that because in 12 months of working together she has NEVER asked me about my spiritual path!).

    Heres what I see as the problem, the pressure is that by saying NO you are wrong.

    I know this because when I said No thanks, she said, ‘Oh well, Landmarks gives you more power, freedom and skills to express and be the person you really want to be in all areas of your life, who wouldn’t want that?. So by implication by saying No I was saying I didn’t want that. Call it manipulation, call it a mindgame – whatever its not for me.

    Sunny

    • Hi Sunny,

      I think you just summed up why Landmark started to irritate me so much in the end. It’s that aggravating “language” everyone regurgitates all the time.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  • My best friend was Stalked and Sexually harassed by a landmark education program leader.

    All landmark program leaders are man whores, creeps!! Landmark is full of predators. All landmark leaders are dying to sleep with all the young girls there.

    Landmark Education claims are all Bullshit on providing an environment free from sexual or other forms of harassment. Please i beg all the GIRLS/WOMEN reading this to STAY AWAY from landmark forum.

    I blame myself every day for registering my best friend into the landmark forum “I gave the landmark forum to her as her birthday gift”
    She was so impressed with the landmark education work that she went on to do the Introductions leaders program and her lifes purpose became to become a leader in landmark education.

    The Worst happened to her she was stalked by a program leader, a married man!!She struggled to function for 3/4 months,she could not talk to him to stop, she finally complained to the Introductions leader program head.
    She quit landmark and now she thinks of herself as incapable of dealing with situations in life. She is so beautiful and vibrant has become dull and silent.

    I want to ruin Landmark!!

    My best friend is from wealthy, well known family. She was so social, famous in the party circuit.

    When her dream of becoming a leader was shattered by this so called “program leader of landmark ” = BASTARD he never allowed her to breathe, he harassed her, he chased her all the time, use to stare at her within 4 feet distance. So much disturbance. How should she go ahead with her dream???
    Isn’t a leader suppose to encourage and help others grow or want to screw up with their lives. Just want to have sex with them.
    She has stopped working, doesnt talk or meet anyone, is on medication. We took her to a psychologist.

    She still wants to be a landmark leader, we all are fed of this dream of hers! She doesnt want to give up, we all dont allow her to go to landmark, she still wants to go back and fight it, because she thinks why should she be deprived of her dream.

    i want an avenue , someone please help me.. i want to take this piece of information in the newspapers without giving away names.
    Please help me!! I have proof.. lot of friends of hers in landmark are ready to talk about it.
    We all friends wanted to go to the local newspaper here but my friend and her family refused.

    I have started to discourage girls from joining landmark forum.
    I pray that landmark education shuts down

    i want this information to go all over the world, mainly ASIA. i am ready to pay any amount. I need help.

    I want to put this on TV / newspapers etc..

    My friends life has been destroyed, am not leaving landmark education at all. Otherwise this will continue with other girls. i want to take action and destroy landmark.

    And landmark thinks they teach an education in living – bloody assholes. They ruin lives, families.

    If anyone reading this, is concerned and humane about saving girls from these man whores landmark forum leaders please help me. Please help me.

    • That’s quite a story, Anya. I’m sorry about your friend.

      All I can say however if that in my experience everyone at Landmark I have encountered has been genuine and kind, so while I have some criticism of Landmark, I really can’t say anything negative about the actual people.

      If you have proof as you say, I suppose the police would be the place to start.

      As for me, I have neither the resources, nor the desire to help you bring down Landmark, sorry.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Just the way you talk my friend would talk all good things about landmark.
      I was the one who got my entire friends circle into landmark. I vouch for the content of landmark education too.
      Landmark Education is investigating this matter.
      We are very happy with the way Landmark education is supporting my friend.
      And this finally has come as a relief for me.
      We all friends were not aware that my friends family has been in touch with Landmark education on this.
      I feel good now.
      am doing the selp program, this is a breakthru for me, so i thought i would share with you.

  • Hi Jonathan, Thank you for sharing your Landmark experience.

    I did the Forum in 2010, which just stunned me. That was beautiful.

    Then i did the Integrity course. That was great. Loved it.

    Then the advanced, which totally bored me. I took that to the center leader, and he offered me to do it again which I did in Los Angeles. Nothing shocking but very entertaining, Clearly who leads this coarse and what people are you with makes a huge difference.

    Then I did SELP and I loved that. In fact it changed my ife, It helped me to bring up the courage to change my career from academia to Industry. It was really good for me, my family, and just terrific fun.

    I am now dierector in a large high tec company. I had set my mind on the Team program. I am now leading people after all. So I did the communication CAP course. That was very weak and not worth continuing, So I have written that idea off.

    So in summary, For me it was hit or miss. Forum (Berry Terry) fantastic. Advanced by Adrian McIntire; painfull to see him stumble along trying to fill the weekend. Then again with Jerry Biden which was a lot of fun. Still I can not recommend the advanced, I did not get much out of it.

    SELP with Kathy Lalode, wonderful. I made so many friends, Got so much out of it.

    Communication course was for me a dud. Forgot the name of the leader Norman something. Made no impression besides that the room was filled with Panda Express people who did not want to be there.

    Thanks,

    Will

    • Hi William,

      Not the first time I have heard that the course can very a lot depending on the leader. I was lucky enough to have really great leaders for both the Forum and the Advanced course. The lady who led my SELP was also really wonderful, it was the structure of the course which didin’t resonate with me.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Jonathan

  • Jonathan,
    Thank you for your blog and your responses to comments, it has helped immensely in my decision to not sign up for the Advanced course this Tuesday.

    This past weekend, as in yesterday, I completed the weekend Forum; what a freeing mental reframe. Emotional bootcamp, yoga for the mind, …this weekend I feel as if I have put the pieces to the puzzle together. I’ve had the pieces laying in front of me for a while now, this past weekend provided the venue for me to put it together in a way that resonated.

    As someone who shy’s away from organized religion, really, organized ‘anything’ turns me off-I am grateful I opened myself up to getting something from Landmark. The sales pitch has made me wince through this entire process, thanks to you and everyone who normalized that experience for me.

    …At this point I have mixed feelings around joining the community in my area…I am considering volunteering for the young people forum, however am not wanting to deal with getting sucked in, circumventing the dependency factor you mentioned in a response to a comment. Does that make sense? I keep thinking, as long as I seek community within my other interests– the Zen center, local ashram, my circle of friends–I won’t get sucked in, or suckered in….any advice, insight, words around this would be most helpful.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Jules,

      Sorry for the delayed reply.

      I think that you’re either a person who gets sucked in, or you’re not. With the Forum, it’s so powerful, and you don’t know what to expect, so everyone gets sucked in, at least for a little while.

      After that though, I think you only get sucked in if you want to get sucked in. I think the Landmark provides some wonderful education, sales pitches aside, and if you feel that volunteering with them would be a good way to surround yourself with positive people, then I say go for it.

      Jonathan

  • Cool article, and great comments!

    I completed my SELP in December 2012, and it certainly was my favorite course at Landmark. I think it’s because I committed to a project that really spoke to me, inspired me, and required me to be bigger than I thought I could be. I noticed that you said you never liked the project that you created; maybe that’s part of the reason you didn’t get much out of the course?

    As with everyone (or mostly everyone) else here, I struggled with the whole idea of constantly inviting people to come to Landmark. At one point, I made up my mind that I was going to stop inviting people and not sign up for any more courses! I even told my leader, and he was totally cool with it. He said “Great, don’t invite anyone. I want you to have what you want in your life. Don’t invite anyone for my sake.” I think I had an exceptionally awesome leader, which is another reason why SELP was so powerful for me.

    Interestingly enough, when I stopped inviting people to Landmark, but continued telling everyone about my project and all the wonderful things going on in my life, people started asking what was going on with me. I told them about Landmark and said that I’m not inviting anyone to come because the events are very pushy. My friends wanted to come anyway! Hah.

    I hope Landmark calms down with their recruitment. The product is so great, but the way they market it is pretty polarizing. I actually think it could go mainstream if they stopped being so pushy about it!

    As far as SELP is concerned, if you have a project that you are really passionate about that will stretch you, and if you are really interested in stepping outside of the boundaries you’ve created for yourself, I think SELP can be really powerful.

    Just my two cents! :)

    • “As far as SELP is concerned, if you have a project that you are really passionate about that will stretch you, and if you are really interested in stepping outside of the boundaries you’ve created for yourself, I think SELP can be really powerful.”

      Perhaps.

      Maybe Landmark need to open up a bit about what the SELP is really about, lower the hype, and increase the transparency. The SELP was not was I was expecting, but then, I didn’t know what to expect.

      • my last comment for now, as I have commented much today on this blog ,

        I’ll use a quote I read, not knowing where from :

        “Expectation is the thief of Joy”

        I also suggest that you google Shoshin or “Beginner’s Mind” , a zen buddhist concept .

        or use this link http://www.ironpalm.com/beginner.html

        Hard to do any program (anything actually) and give it a fair “Experience” if we have googled . and researched and taken on other’s opinions of something even before setting foot in the door, and we will often tend to gravitate to things negative so that we don’t get screwed over or hurt , or waste our time….but it is what we humans do to stay safe and in some form of control…. Like “trust no-one” or “always expect the worst” .. Not a great way to live, but it is very normal.

        • Nah, totally disagree. I Googled Landmark Extensively before doing to Forum, and I still thought the Forum was great after I decided to do it.

          If the SELP lived up to it’s hype, I would have gotten something out of it regardless. Instead I came away disillusioned with Landmark entirely. Despite a very nice lady lead the program.

      • I found that SELP was valuable to me for providing the space to create my project and keeping me in action to make it happen. There was nothing, nothing at all, in the content of the SELP that helped me with the project. The weekly paper work about who I was enrolling/registering for what was tedious and silly. The marketing aspects were unwanted distractions.

  • Very interesting commentary from a variety of readers. Each of the viewpoints are unique, except for the continued pressure to bring guests. As a participant, as well as a “volunteer” I’ve seen it all.

    I’ve taken The Landmark Forum, Advanced Course, the Communications courses and several seminars. I’ve enjoyed each. I have to say…the Advanced Course is my favorite. I personally got a lot of out of it. Was it life changing…no. But, I got to see huge possibilities in my life. It altered my life view which in turn alters how I interact with others and ‘take on’ the world.

    BTW, I’ve not taken SELP but I’ve heard from several friends that it was their favorite course.

    I didn’t get much out of the communications courses but I believe that was my own fault. The trick in each of the courses IMHO, especially the higher level courses and the seminars, is to really do the homework and, as someone else said above, pull the course to you.

    I’ve read some of the historical info on EST and the origins of Landmark. It is what it is. And while the large group format is a bit odd for some, I’ve found, especially in the forum, seeing myself in others when they share their stories. What ends up happening, for me, is seeing a commonality among all humans.

    I completely agree with one of the comments above that addressed coaching from volunteers versus leaders. That happens with fair frequency, unfortunately. As my dad used to say, “give someone a rope, they think they’re a cowboy’.

    Addressing the pressure to bring your friends and community, yes…I’ve felt that pressure as well. Its definitely the biggest draw back.

    Personally, I heard about the Landmark because a friend of mine who lives outside of my state came into town. The forum came up in conversation, naturally. Ideally, this is the best way for the conversation to occur. I was so sold, that I heard about it on a Saturday and was calling up to register on a Tuesday and, pay in full.

    I understand wanting to share the value one has received and I get the fact that it could cause a major positive life shift. At the same time, IMHO people try to “push” or “sell” rather than “share”. I’ve found when I tried to share and get someone to register, it came off as manipulation.

    Shame on me… I learned that that’s what I do in other areas of my life. So, a failed invitation opens up another area that I was never really aware of and allows me to begin focusing on straight talk. Being honest, COMPLETELY honest and allowing others to powerfully choose.

    • Thanks Chip.

      As I said, my relationship with Landmark started strong, and just fizzled. Perhaps I just didn’t need it anymore.

      Thanks for taking the time to share.

      Jonathan

  • Hello,

    Thank you for the article joe, I left SELP a week ago, and would never recommend Landmark to anyone.

    I consider the possibility that landmark delivers it’s technology in a non-linear cliff hanging way ‘cut to commercial, now a word from our sponsor’.

    Where the content is closely integrated with it’s commercial. The below content is an experiment, and in order for it to work, you have to pay close attention.

    Right now, everything is perfect, I am the possibility of selflessness, self respect, individuality, critical and creative thinking, and the ability to transform any environment

    In 1991, Werner Erhard (John Paul Rosenberg) sold the EST (Erhard Seminar Training) ‘technology’ to his former employees. Erhard’s brother Harry Rosenberg took leadership of Landmark Education Corp. The EST technology that Landmark purchased was strongly influenced by several authors, figures and religions. One of these religions was Scientology, and it had an extensive influence on both EST and the Forum.
    “I have a lot of respect for L. Ron Hubbard and I consider him to be a genius and perhaps less acknowledged than he ought to be.” ~ Werner Erhard

    Erhard was also involved in ‘Mind Dynamics’, founded by Alexander Everett, Mind Dynamics seminars included teachings based on Rosicrucianism and Theosophy, as well as the methods of Edgar Cayce and José Silva, founder of ‘Silva Mind Control’. Perhaps it would be beneficial knowledge to look into

    I consider the possibility of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) being used in landmark, and that I’ve become a practitioner of a fraction of NLP training. This training has possibly transformed my self-awareness, self-expression, communication, and integrity. I consider the possibility that I have been subjected to NLP / Hypnotic suggestion and marketing in Landmark Education.

    I consider what I don’t know that I don’t know. I am already always listening, and I’m in love with unlimited possibilities.

    Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, meditation, hypnosis, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, Repetition

    Landmark has self described itself as a roller coaster, and I consider it to be one in many ways, adopting how it feels when you are on one, and when you get off of it.

    I’ve heard key phrases repetitively being used and repeated by participants. I’ve considered the possibility that these phrases have become part of my language, have transformed my mind, and have possibly influenced my decisions regarding Landmark Education and how I interact with others.

    I’ve considered the possibility of hypnotic repetitive language patterns being used in my self transformation and in Landmark marketing. These are some of the words and phrases that I have been repetitively listening to in Landmark Education : Possibility, roller coaster, breakthroughs, breakdowns, trance-formation, share, authentic, enauthentic, consider, already always listening, what i don’t know, that I don’t know, technology, now, integrity, racket, story, enrol, register, got it, I get that.

    ‘Enrol people into my life, enrol people into Landmark’
    ‘Register people into my life, register people into Landmark’

    ‘When are you going to do it? When are you going to have an enrolment talk? When are you going to have a registration talk? When are you going to register for Landmark? When will you enrol your friends into landmark? When? When? When? Now! If you don’t, where is your integrity? Are you being authentic? Not doing it now must be fear based right? When is landmark going to stop ramming NLP marketing down my throat, it’s tough for me to swallow?

    I consider the possibility that landmarks content is repetitively and closely integrated with it’s commercial marketing. Delivering and using EST and NLP technology in a non-linear cliff hanging fashion, having me want more, crave more, just like a great author, writing a book that you can’t put down, promised incredible information if you stay! And there is more!

    ‘Cut to commercial, now a word from our sponsor’.

    I see the possibility of critical thinking being a part of landmark. The majority of complaints that I’ve personally observed are surrounding Landmarks marketing practices, and have little or nothing to do with the content taught. Each time I’ve brought up my concerns surrounding these practices, Landmark terminology has dismissed them as stories, rackets, opinion, and that’s fine, that’s their story. I’ve had personal experiences of people thanking me for standing up for the ‘majority’, and who are they to say that? I do however have to ask this question to Landmark “Are you already always listening to your participants”? I’ve been involved since last spring 2012, in the forum, and advanced program, approximately 70% of the participants had expressed this as a concern by raising their hand.

    Of course this trance-formed quite a bit after a meditation and then climax of course. That meditation was a classic form of hypnotism that is meant to have a person regress as a child and face fears, landmark at that point became our adoptive parent that we submit too. The majority of the critiques I read on the world wide web surround the “CULTISH” “MANIPULATIVE” “BRAINWASHING” MARKETING. Youtube video’s express such an incredible division, generally 60% thumbs down critiques towards landmark, again, the repetitive complaint MARKETING. The majority of the walkouts that I’ve read about in the forum regard MARKETING. From what I observe, it’s not the content, it’s the MARKETING.

    How can an organization that prides itself with communication have such an incredibly imbalanced reputation? What does landmark “don’t know that it don’t know”.

    Landmark may consider seeing the possibility of silent marketing, as the curriculum itself can sell itself.

    “I don’t think anyone ought to believe the ideas that we use in EST. The EST philosophy is not a belief system and most certainly ought not to be believed. In any case, even the truth, when believed, is a lie. You must experience the truth, not believe it” ~ Werner Edhard – Founder of the Forum

    Right now, I invite you to these following links!

    A must see french documentary on the Landmark Forum. It has actually given me an idea for my SELP community project … to do something like it in English ;) -http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1243&Itemid=12url

    Information on NLP – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming

    The Sceptics Dictonairy – http://skepdic.com/est.html

    Repetition in self hypnosis (hynosis in general) – http://hypnosis.lifetips.com/tip/146205/practicing-hypnosis/practicing-hypnosis/using-repetition.html

    References on Werner Erhard : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Erhard

    • Thanks Daniel.

      I totally get it. The marketing is what kills it.

      I’ve seen/read all of that before, most of it before I even did the Forum. I wanted to see for myself.

      Landmark creates dependency. It’s like a drug for those who are susceptable.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

      • The I.L.P , or Introduction Leader Program is a whole other ball of wax… There is some good content but they are ultimately training you here is how to be a Landmark Sales Force… Should be called the LSF program in my opinion,

        It is often preached as the “Number 1 Leadership Program in the world” and again in my opinion, (and I did do the program) has nothing to do with Leadership per se. You are being trained to get in front of people and lead them through an Introduction to the Landmark Forum.. (actually says so in the title, but somehow I didn’;t really “see” that until about 4 months into the 6 month program)

        It gave me some intangibles though as my career in sales, and being able to cold call would never have happened without doing it !

        Plus, there is probably more “Self Expression” developed and/or necessary than in the SELP .

  • Foremost love the title of your blog – congrats you are now famous.

    Appreciate your honesty and acknowledge your dissatisfaction in parts of the course. You say you partially met your fiancée through landmark – that’s pretty huge! Considering you will be married to her for quite possibly the rest of your life – that’s pretty damn awesome for a weekend seminar. Also, I take issue with where you wrote “I got roped into”. I call BS. Possible you didn’t stand your ground? And in the end you agreed to it?

    btw – regarding your “I am broken, I need therapy” comment. I find that offensive, no one is broken, no one *needs* therapy. For years I scorned therapists and their work, last year I went to a few sessions and the results are nothing short of amazing. Also, consider, Landmark can not control who signs up for the courses. In my advanced class we had lots of shakers and doers in the world. Lawyers, Doctors, Retired grandmothers, entrepreneurs, students, bartenders and more. And in SELP one woman, through following with the homework – received a 250k grant for her project. I may even call that a mircle!

    I just remembered your story about the wedding, and the leader asking you to skip it, or leave early. I feel that’s furthering your commitment to either your friend – or not. We all get invites to weddings where we’d rather not be there, right? Actually one girl in my Forum *asked* the forum leader if she should go to her friends wedding or take Advanced. Forum leader appropriately answered the choice was hers. Guess what – when Advanced came around – she was there and loving it, no regrets missing the wedding. in the end – the choice was hers – it always was.

    FWIW – I found forum more satisfying for my soul than advanced. But SELP is really opening up doors for me, i do find it annoying(that’s my sometimes cynical nature creeping up) – that they ask us to enroll others in forum – but those conversations ALONE – whether they say yes or no – builds skills and power – plus if chose to do forum – their life – and mine – transforms.

    While I have this soap box(thank you for that opportunity). I want to say I took forum b/c I noticed people, first one, then two, then five – I highly resonated with in my life took it and got a lot out of it. I did- and loved it. I’m a lot closer to my friends and family for it. More power in my life, more empathy. more confidence. I “get” others more – more peace of mind. Then I started to enroll friends in taking it. What is the result? ~10 friends, in about 4 cities have done forum and all are really pleased with what transpired. The tools they now have to be more free, more expressive, more powerful.

    sorry for the short rant, but it bothers me when people say they got roped into something, that hit a nerve, because unless they had a rope around your feet, or a revolver to your head – I’d like to think it was under your own cognitive decision making ability. I’m sorry you “gave in”, but you could have said no.

    Congrats on finding the woman of your dreams btw

    I don’t work for Landmark, don’t gain anything by anyone signing up – I just stand for the transformation they have started in many loved one’s in my life.

    Best to you and yours

    • Thanks Alex.

      Perhaps one day I will revisit things and feel differenty. Perhaps the timing just wasn’t right for me. Or perhaps I already got what I needed from Landmark, and I didn’t need it anymore. These are all questions I am willingn to ask, and explore, now and in the future.

      I do stand by what I said though, as it is representative of how I felt at the time.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

      (And no, I am not famous. Infamous perhaps, in some circles, but not famous.) ;-)

      • Re : The wedding and course schedule conflict; what was and is available from that moment in time was the option of doing one or the other or finding a way to do both… It is still valuable as a lesson today, we don’t have to kill off one thing just to do another without fully looking at ways to achieve both . In your case Jonathan you were ultimately able to do both as you were able to reschedule, and therefore less to lose, you may have made your choice differently, or thought about it more if there was to be no refund and no reschedule, or if there was something bigger to lose.. This is the lesson I want to leave you with, and I am not concerned for Landmark that you didn’t do the Advanced when originally scheduled. It does make business difficult and relationships hard however when people say that they are coming over, you prepare a 6 course meal and then they change their minds and don’t show up if you follow my reasoning here, and most people blow stuff off in that way all the time. “Integrity” for me is a very personal game that I have taken on, has dick all now to do with someone telling me what to do or frowning at me for being late.

        • Hi Ian.

          Sorry, but it wasn’t like that. I was actually spoken to very rudely by the leader when I explained to him about the wedding. He was very direspectful, and accusatory.

          I had signed up for the SELP during the Advanced Course at the height of the “hype”. I negelcted to consider prior obligations. The decent human reaction to being informed that my good freind’s wedding was a conflict would have been to say, “yes, of course, your friends need to come first, let’s reschedule.”

          Instead I was offered up some rudeness, and a guilt trip. And what for? It’s no skin of Landmark’s nose, they already had my money, a refund was no avilable. Why should they be so disrespectful to me because I needed to reschedule for a later date?

          Nonsense. And the single point in time when I lost my respect for Landmark, now that I think about it.

          Sorry Ian, I know you mean well, and I thank you for your comments, but the Landmark lingo etc. just doesn’t work for me anymore.

          Best,

          Jonathan

          • I read your experience and I am sorry you felt like SELP leader was being rude. If I ever feel like someone is rude, I now catch myself and try to focus on what they are really saying instead.

            In other words it’s easy to get hung up on the tone or the way someone is speaking (not to your liking) but in the process you end up missing the real message.

            Ultimately it was about him asking you to keep your commitment to LM and you feeling like you didn’t have a choice ( which was a failed conversation ) but “that doesn’t mean anything” – it’s just something you said and if any other person was listening they would have a completely different experience…

  • Am not familiar with Landmark, but your thoughts bring to mind the ancient Asian adage that a ladder is useful until it’s not, and then it should be kicked away.

  • Landmark Education is interesting –I like hearing all sides and to be honest I’ve been on both sides.

    Recently I did their Curriculum Module: Access to Power and the Power to Create —I enjoyed both very much and found they were both well worth the money and gave me more insight. The pressure to bring guests is a magnitude lower than the curriculum for living. At this point these two have been the most helpful in my life –after all we all need to communicate and i final had an experiential experience of an ‘enrolling’ conversation —what that means and doesn’t mean. I walked away able to tailor my language and create my world (one baby step at a time) –the Advance Course ends with the concept that your words create your world and the communication module picks up here giving you a foundation in which to ground your communication. Magic.

    • Thanks Michelle. It’s nice to hear that the pressure to bring guests is lower in other Landmark Courses. That pressure unforutuantely turned me off of Landmark to the point where I doubt I will ever go back, and it’s sadly harder for me to recommend it to others now.

  • Hey Jonathan – Really a great article. I wish I would have seen it before I registered for the advance course.

    I don’t feel I gain a lot of insight really. After 3 long days, all I was left with is a bad taste in my mouth. after the pressured over and over to either bring people in, register for the next course, and keep calling everyone in my phone book which would then lead to get them to come to the Landmark Forum.

    During this session I was not fully getting all that they were explaining so during one of the breaks I approached a Landmark person to help me out with this. I was really disappointing when I was told that during the advance course they are not allow to coach you in anything. We are suppose to just get it on our own, or withing our respective groups. Now the groups are formed from 5 other attendees just like me and we were all confused so where does this leave me? Even more confused than before.

    • Although I ultimately enjoyed the Advanced Course, I absolutely understand where you are coming from here. I recall being downright angry about half way through the second day and wanting my money back. ;-)

  • My experience with Landmark is similar to yours and I couldn’t agree more. My biggest issue is that they seem to believe Landmark is the one and only way to live your life. In reality, lots of paths will get you there and most of them don’t care how many people you get to sign up for the Forum. Not to mention the jargon and buzzwords. If I never hear “skilled in creating opportunity” or “distinctions” or “unreasonable requests” or “how things occur for me” again, I’ll be thrilled.

    It helped me a ton in my life and I’m grateful for it and the people I met. I’d still recommend it to most people but it’s served its purpose in my life and I’m happy not to ever do another Landmark thing in my life. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to comment, other than to offer my agreement and let you know you’re not alone!

  • This was an excellent article.

    The commenter who equated advising a friend to see the doctor and improve his health to prejudicially recruiting acquaintances to spend $600 to spend a weekend in a hotel banquet room with hundreds of other people who have done no personal work, being barked at by megalomaniacal Dr. Phil clones was employing what can only be described as pathological reasoning.

    That kind of thinking is very sick. He obviously needs way more classes.

  • Thanks for this write-up. I recently completed the Landmark Forum, which I enjoyed and thought was pretty worthwhile. Now I’m stuck in the seminar series and am really struggling with the feeling of being manipulated into staying in the program and bringing more people to Landmark.

    • Hi Jessica,

      My suggestion is to remember that you don’t owe anything to Landmark. You paid your money and they provided a service.

      No matter what they say, you don’t have to keep your “committment” to them if you feel they are wasting your time.

      Cheers!

      • Thanks for writing about your experiences, pro and con.

        When the seminars I have taken take a break in the middle for one of the center staff to pitch us on another program, I just step out of the room and write emails on my phone until the seminar program resumes.

        With regards to the quality of the seminars, I have found that it depends on the quality of the seminar leaders. I have had some that were truly amazing and pushed me to think deeply about things I was struggling with, and others that occurred to me as pretty meh.

      • It’s great to know there are so many other people who feel the same way I do. Someone above said that if Landmark would lay off the hard sell it would market itself and be more successful. I wholly agree. I’ve even tried to persuade some folks at the NY center about this. I didn’t expect them to agree but they were more receptive than I thought.

        I do my best to take the content without getting turned off by the marketing. In some ways this is a great exercise for me. I generally write off people who overmarket to me, and ironically Landmark becomes an opportunity to practice letting things I don’t like about people or organizations roll off me without throwing them away altogether.

        • Hi Jordan,

          Thanks for your comments. Obviously whatever they are doing marketing wise is working for them, or they’d try something different. That being said, at a certain point enough is enough. I know several people who were extremely psyched about Landmark back in the day who now have nothing to do with it and either cringe if the “language” is used around them or just make fun of it. I don’t know anyone who is still “in” Landmark because those people all became so insufferable as they lived in their laddy-da world brushing off everything that comes their way with a trite “Landmarkism”. You start to feel like you aren’t dealing with people who are living in reality anymore. It’s one thing to be positive and live in the world of possibility. It’s another thing to live in denial and act like a loon all the time.

          Cheers,
          Jonathan

  • Great article. I totally concur except I barely made it to the break to get the refund the first day of SELP. Still cannot believe this buzzword fluff-a-thon is a Landmark program!

    Did you ever do any seminars? Causing the Miraculous is wonderful and Invented Life pretty good. After the second one, they are much the same and like SELP, they don’t have enough material for ten sessions wrapped around pressure to bring guests.

    • I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity for a refund, that’s for sure.

      I did start one of the seminars, the one that was included free with my Forum, and ultimately dropped it due to boredom.

  • I read your article about the Landmark SELP. Your article was really great. It was a valid description of how it occurs for many people such as yourself.

    I was interested in your description of the times you described as “caught off guard”. I’d like to ask you a few questions about that.

    Is it possible that rather than you being caught off guard, some of the volunteers are actually very skilled in having what they are requesting occur to you as an opportunity?

    Is it possible that one reason they are so skilled is that they have been trained to listen for and create possibilities that you are interested in?

    Is it fair to define power as the ability to cause something quickly without force, manipulation, guilt-trips, etc.?

    If those volunteers who have become very skilled in having you say yes without manipulating you or causing guilt trips are equally skilled in producing results in their personal life, would you describe them as powerful people?

    It sounds like you want there to be something else Forum-like to be delivered to you. Unfortunately, all the graduate courses and assisting opportunities require me to pull the course to get the most benefit. Rather than deciding that something is just wrong, grappling with my reaction produces breakthroughs.

    Why am I triggered when someone makes a ridiculous, unreasonable request? Is it that I don’t like to say no? Do I think they are more important than me, so I have to listen and obey them? Where does this happen in work, family and relationships?

    Why am I triggered by the requests to invite friends, who admittedly I would love to do the Landmark Forum for a benefit I see for them? Is it because I am afraid they will say no, or they will say yes, but not like it, or maybe they will just laugh at me? How am I ever going to get them to have the benefit of doing the Landmark Forum?

    Thanks.
    Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      I took a long time in replying to your comment in order to give myself the opportunity to really think about the questions you raised. I have come to this conclusion:

      There is no difference between the way Landmark folks “create opportunity” and “manipulation”. It’s just a different name for the same thing.

      Regards,

      Jonathan

      • Is there is a distinction between manipulation and creating opportunity? Would it be fair to say the distinction is in how it occurs for the person on the other end of the conversation? If it occurs as a guilt-trip or pressure, then it is manipulation. If it occurs as an opportunity that can be chosen or not, then it is not manipulation.

        Let’s say I had a friend or spouse whose health was suffering, his enjoyment of life and friends and mobility were seriously an issue for him.

        To make a difference for that person, I might try to create an opportunity for him to eat healthy, exercise, and get advice from a doctor.

        For example, I could say to my friend, “I care about you and I am concerned about your health. It might make a difference for you to go to the doctor and get on a program and to follow the program. It could be fun, we’ll work out together. Will you do it?” Depending on my friend, that may occur as pressure or as an opportunity.

        What could I say if he says, “I know I should, but it’s too hard for me?” Or, “I want to, but this is just the way I am and I can’t change it.”

        Consider that “Landmark folks” are people like you who want to have life be great. And sometimes they are skilled in presenting opportunities and sometimes they miss the mark.

        • Hello Joe,

          I appreciate what you are saying. I don’t disagree with you that there can be a fine line between opportunity and pressure. I think sometimes that line is whether or not there is a legitimate opening for such an opportunity to be presented, or if it represents a crossing of one’s boundaries.

          In my experience with Landmark, the professionals are more than skilled with creating legitimate opportunities for people. It’s when the unpaid “enthusiasts” get involved that things start to get a bit messy.

          I believe I have provided a balanced critique of Landmark in this article and the two previous ones I wrote on the subject. I have sung the praises when I felt appropriate, and likewise leveled criticism when I felt it was warranted.

          I believe that their is a certain point when Landmark’s curriculum loses a great deal of it’s authenticity, and in this write up I have detailed exactly where it occurred for me. I am not alone, I know many people who were heavily involved with Landmark, and eventually experienced “Landmark Burnout”.

          We can do the Landmark thing and pretend that everything is “perfectly fine and complete”, or we can be honest. I have chosen to do the latter, for better or for worse.

          • Thanks Jonathan and Joe,,
            The key words I read above are “how it occurred to me”, ,,so very true as we create 98% of our own reality, if not 100%. We then hold that in our minds and egos as true , right and real, and usually posed to defend ourselves in what really boil down to opinions.

            Strange that for me, one of the biggest things that Landmark taught me was the ability to say “No” , rather than my past-usual of saying “maybe” or even “yes” when what was really there was a no or don’t care. This has expedited my life and actually made things easier for those around me, once they got over what may now occur to them as my new “bluntness” ..!! It also improved my ability to make quick choices … (not decisions !..LOL)

            I found that a strong “No” to a Landmark offer always took any pressure off, just like a strong yes would… any wavering, and any good salesman will look for an opening to turn that into a yes.. Sales 101

          • I can relate to what Ian said. I can be “authentic” now when I don’t want something and can say no. When Landmark gives me the opportunity to assist I can say no quite powerfully. :) Kinda ironic.

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