11 November 2010

Judging the Book (and other assessments) By Its Cover

The rumbling in my stomach, fitful sleep and tear-stained-pillows-of-morning started almost from the moment I stepped into the role of Group Leader. There was no job description provided; no "Group Leader's Handbook" distributed; no contract outlining responsibilities and liabilities.

Not that I'm unfamiliar with being "the one": I'm an oldest child of four. I facilitate workshops and have consented several times in the past to be "song leader" at small group gatherings. I've entertained audiences of hundreds. But this experience, becoming Group Leader of a small group in Landmark Education's Effectiveness Seminar, was a first: consenting to lead a group with no advance knowledge of the purpose or objective of the group, for no pay. There's no need to ask "What could go wrong?" If I'd been permitted a glimpse into the future on the night I became leader and allowed to read that descriptive last sentence, I might never have accepted the role.

Then again...I might have (and did, in fact). Adventure, mystery, puzzles, surprises. I have an appetite for such things and often choose to move toward the Unknown and The Thing I Fear.

I'm no longer Group Leader. I resigned two days ago. The Seminar Leader suggests I did not resign; he suggests "quit" and "breaking [my] commitment/word" are the correct or accurate words for what I've done. Those words are OK; it's not confusing that an observer would use those words to describe my decision.

The rub is this: "resign" also occurs to me as a correct and accurate description. It is the Seminar Leader's inability to see it similarly that confuses me.

It's been said that Landmark Education is the land of "ass-kicking" and "two by fours." Never let it be said that I can't appreciate the value of ass-kicking and wielding a two by four; sometimes, those are the perfect antidotes to the clever, evasive maneuvers of human ego.

But

I believe there are other strategies more appropriate and effective in some situations. Landmark Education is a powerful technology, exposure to which has provoked amazing changes in my life already. Without knowing any particulars or details of my life story, Landmark technology has advanced my life cause.

Where I stand now, I crave some of the rigor inherent to the Landmark technology applied to the specific contour and content of my life. I am frustrated beneath the broad brush of "the Landmark Way." It's like wanting to dance but the band only knows how to play one song.

I confront my old yearning for recognition. The universality of the "human condition" permits generic approaches -- food, water, shelter, love, listening, laughter, etc. -- that deliver some benefit to most people in most situations. And what about the unique nature of the suffering or confusion or despair that a particular human experiences?

Somehow I had read Landmark to include an appreciation of this dimension. This week, it feels like a misreading. When the Seminar Leader suggested that I live in an "angry at the World" attitude (and that this attitude is a big source of suffering for me), it did not ring true. I suggested that he didn't know me well enough to offer that diagnosis (though I would not have had a problem accepting it as a ventured guess). My suggestion, as best I can understand from his subsequent coaching, fell in the category of "defensiveness."

So I have no authority with regard to defining how I see the world? To report how things look to me, if my report differs from how you think things look to me, is an attempt to sidestep the truth? Again, this is not a context that works or rings true for me. Ultimately, wouldn't that lead to a total evaporation of my "power"? But, the stated intention of the Education is to increase my "power, freedom and full self-expression"... I'm confused and, so far, have not found a corner of Landmark Education where this apparent discrepancy is addressed.

I am feeling neither heard nor seen inside the house of Landmark Education these days. I am still enamored of and awed by the possibilities for my life that have opened up as a result of my enrollment; I'll probably use some of these tools for he rest of my life.

And

I am coming to see that there are discrepancies between the Landmark Itinerary and my own and the Landmark Train can't take me everywhere I want to go. Trains don't run on water or traverse the sky. I can't see the wonders of the ocean's floor from a train or find the field where the ancestors gather to chant. I am, after all, Sojourner.

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