The Werner Erhard Foundation website was developed on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were touched by the Werner Erhard Foundation – those who organized not for recognition, but for the love of humanity. From theoretical physics to tackling world hunger, over two decades of work, beginning in 1973, fostered breakthroughs in human thinking, growth and development that are still present in the world today.

Why share this with you now? Because there is no better time to illustrate, no matter what the decade, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, we all have the ability to foster great thinking, expand our own and other’s level of achievement and make a lasting difference. The world is waiting.

“We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world what our lives are really about. Each of us has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us all as human beings.

If not you, who?
If not now, when?
If not here, where?”
Werner Erhard

The Werner Erhard Foundation

The Werner Erhard Foundation, was established in a time of transformation and transition. Old values, ideals, and beliefs were being challenged; new ideas and insights, new ways of seeing old problems, and new solutions were coming into view.

Historians will likely view this period as an era of profound change, a time when human beings discarded old limits, explored new visions, and embraced new realities.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new and unexpected paradigm, a new model for humanity, characterized by a demand from individuals and communities for effective action, for translating the new insights into concrete results. For all of us there is the opportunity to redefine what it means to be a human being.

Read more about the Werner Erhard Foundation Projects

Prison Possibilities

Prison Possibilities, Inc. was an independent non-profit organization that enabled men and women in prisons to alter their predictable futures. This organization’s programs demonstrated concrete results in significantly lowering the rate of re arrest and imprisonment among those inmates who have participated. A number of the inmates who participated in the programs continue to this day to make the program available to others.

As was stated in a letter dated August 21, 1990, by Robert J. Watson Commissioner of Correction in Delaware: “I see no other resource as powerful or as effective as The Forum in what it creates for inmates who participate…It is effective. It is a lasting contribution.”

A letter dated September 11, 1990 from W.L. Kautazky, former Commissioner of Correction for the State of Colorado and Senior Commissioner of the Corrections Department in the State of Hawaii states: “The Prison Possibilities program was presented originally at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility under the extraordinary scrutiny of a highly skeptical staff. In virtually every instance, the skepticism of the staff was transformed to a surprising level of support for the values of accountability and responsibility generated by the program…I remain convinced that the unique balance of accountability training during confinement and volunteer support upon release provides an important community linkage that will be critical to the success of correctional programs thoughout the nation.”

See more at the Werner Erhard Foundation Website

The Holiday Project

The Holiday Project began through the work of graduates of the est training. The first Holiday Project visit occurred on Christmas Day, 1973 in San Francisco, California. Since its incorporation as a non-profit public benefit organization in 1980, more than 180,000 volunteers from every social, and economic background visited more than 1,500,000 people around the United States.

The real story of the Holiday Project lives in the lives of the experiences of each individual who participated. It lives in the face of an old man, beaming as a small child hugs him. It lives in the misty eyes of a woman recalling her youth. And it lives in the way the volunteers speak about their lives. “We gave gifts and sang, but the songs and gifts were just an excuse for us to be close” … “Now every year I visit with The Holiday Project. It makes my holidays how I always want them to be.”

Visit the national Holiday Project organization’s website where you can find inspiring stories and participate in current Holiday Project activities.

The est Training

Excerpt from The est Standard Training  in Biosciences Communication, 1977:

The fact is, no one needs the training. It is not medicine. If you are ill, you need medical attention. If you are mentally ill, you need therapy. The training is not medicine or therapy. If you are hungry, you need food. You need air. Actually you need someone to love and someone to love you. You need to feel some self-respect and the esteem of others. Without these, we do not function very well as human beings.

The training is none of these. It does not solve problems. It is true that some problems dissolve in the training, but not because it is the purpose of the training for people to work on their problems in the training. The training is not about people’s problems per se. What the training is about is related to those rare moments in life, which while rare, seem to come into everyone’s life at some time or another. They are moments in which one is absolutely complete, whole, fulfilled – that is to say, satisfied. (I limit the word gratification to mean the filling of a need or desire, or the achievement of a goal. I use the word satisfaction to mean the experience of being complete.)

Each of us has experienced moments in our lives when we are fully alive -when we know – without thinking – that life is exactly as it is in this moment. In such moments, we have no wish for it to be different, or better, or more. We have no disappointment, no comparison with ideals, no sense that it is not what we worked for. We feel no protective or defensive urge – and have no desire to hold on – to store up – or to save. Such moments are perfect in themselves. We experience them as being complete.

We do not need to experience completion. People function successfully without such moments. Like the training, such moments are not something we `should’ have. Like the training, such moments do not make us any better. We are not smarter or sexier or more successful or richer or any more clever. These moments, these experiences of being complete, are sufficient unto themselves. Like the training, such moments are not even ‘good’ for you – like vitamins or exercise or things of that sort.

In the training, one finds there is something beyond that – the opportunity to discover that space within yourself where such moments originate, actually where you and life originate. In the training, one experiences a transformation -a shift from being a character in the story of life to being the space in which the story occurs – the playwright creating the play, as it were, consciously, freely, and completely.

 

Excerpt from The est Training by Werner Erhard and Vic Gioscia

Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach (Excerpt)

Conclusion:

We argue that the financial economics paradigm is incomplete. The evidence for any paradigm being incomplete is the presence of a significant continuing breakdown in the discipline, along with the discipline’s continuing ineffectiveness in dealing with that breakdown
(what Kuhn (1962, 2012) termed “crises and anomalies” in a discipline). In the world of finance, the combination of 1) the extent of out-of-integrity behavior and its consequent impact on value, coupled with 2) the financial economics discipline having provided little or
nothing that has been effective in stemming this out-of-integrity behavior, is evidence for our argument that the financial economics paradigm is incomplete.

The out-of-integrity behavior we termed the “scandals” in Section 2 and the various examples of out-of-integrity behavior discussed in Sections 3 through 11 (mostly unrecognized as out-of-integrity behavior) are important examples of what contributes to the general
atmosphere of low integrity in the world of finance (albeit not identified as such and certainly not spoken of). Out-of-integrity behavior has become virtually institutionalized.

The environment of low integrity is so pervasive it seems to be nothing more than business as usual, or just a part of the nature of finance. Forstmoser’s (2006) first three indicators of the lack of integrity (listed in Section 6.b)—”Everyone else is doing it.”; “We’ve always done
it.”; and “This is the way this business works.”—illustrate this environment. When we speak of “integrity”, in the case of a system (or object) we mean nothing more than, but nothing less than, that the design, the implementation of the design, and the use of the system (or object) are whole, complete, unbroken, sound, and in perfect condition with respect to its intended purpose. When we speak of integrity for a person or other human entity, we mean nothing more than, but nothing less than, that the word (as defined earlier) of the person or other human entity is whole, complete, unbroken, sound, in perfect condition. We have shown that integrity dealt with in this way is an important factor of
production.

However, integrity as it is currently understood has been undistinguished as a factor of production, with the result that its impact on workability, and therefore productivity and value (by its presence or absence) has been wrongfully assigned to other causes. Integrity,
as we define it, matters. Not because it is virtuous, but because it creates workability. And workability increases the opportunity for performance, and maximum workability is necessary for realizing maximum value.

Note that describing the effects of integrity is not normative. In addition, we make no admonition to act with integrity; it doesn’t work to tell people what they should do. People act in what they perceive to be in their self-interest in the way it shows up for them in the
circumstances they are dealing with or are confronted by. We don’t tell people what to do, rather we give a picture of reality (in this case a picture of the reality of integrity revealed as a positive phenomenon) that naturally alters their correlated behavior.

As the Law of Integrity states: As the integrity (the state of being whole and complete, etc.) of an object, system, person, or other human entity or practice declines, workability declines, and as workability declines the opportunity for performance declines. Note however that when the behavior is not recognized as out of integrity, the decline in the opportunity for performance will be explained in some other way.

The model of integrity introduced in this paper makes clear just how widespread out-of-integrity behavior actually is, and the enormity of the cost of out-of-integrity behavior. The model also makes clear that given the way integrity is currently understood, our out-of-integrity behavior does not occur for us as such, and as a result we ascribe the cause of the damage of out-of-integrity behavior to something other than our out-of-integrity behavior. But the recognition of the foregoing is only a beginning for persons, groups, and organizations to have access to acting with integrity.
From within our new model of integrity when it is fully understood, integrity occurs for people (is understood by people, shows up for people) such that:
1) out-of-integrity behavior actually shows up for people as out-of-integrity behavior, but most importantly,
2) the damaging consequences of that behavior, whether immediate or long term, show up in present time right along with the out-of-integrity behavior, and
3) the damaging consequences show up as being caused by the out-of-integrity
behavior.
This shift in the showing up profoundly alters the way out-of-integrity behavior occurs or shows up for people. As we have said, people with normal brains act in what appears to them to be in their self-interest, but in their self-interest given the way in which what they are dealing with occurs or shows up for them.

Our purpose here has been to show that including integrity as a purely positive phenomenon, and as such an important factor of production in the paradigm of financial economics, would allow financial economics scholars to develop the tools to effectively deal with the “crises and anomalies” of the value-destroying out-of-integrity behavior in the world of finance, and ultimately to transform the culture of finance into one of integrity.

What makes this addition to the current financial economics paradigm challenging for most professionals is that the “proof ” of a paradigm is the “testing” of it in practice, rather than in the a priori theoretical proof of it. While the proposition that “as integrity (whole and complete) decreases, workability decreases” is unmistakably valid, the proposition that “any diminution in the integrity (wholeness and completeness) of an individual’s or other human entity’s word results in a diminution of workability for that individual or entity” is a heuristic. It just works. When the fact that it actually works in practice becomes a clear-cut personal discovery, this naturally alters future behavior.

 

Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C., Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach (2017). Capitalism and Society, Vol. 12 [2017], Iss. 1, Art. 1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2963231

Capitalism and Society

In their groundbreaking paper published by Yale University’s Center on Capitalism and Society, “Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach,” Werner Erhard and Professor Michael C. Jensen discuss their positive model of integrity that links integrity and personal and corporate performance.   The creation of this model reveals a causal link between integrity and increased performance. Through the work of clarifying and defining what integrity is and it’s causal link to performance, this model provides access to increased performance for private individuals, executives, economists, philosophers, policy makers, leaders, legal and government authorities.

“The Center on Capitalism and Society brings together leading scholars in economics, business, finance, and law to study capitalist institutions, their effectiveness, and their weaknesses in order to get some answers to such basic questions about capitalism – its working, its dynamism, and the instability it may cause, its inclusiveness or lack thereof and its role in a democracy.”

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Power is a Function of Velocity: “Your

Power is a Function of Velocity: “Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a… http://wp.me/pbw9H-du

Breaking Out Of The Box

Social paradigms dictate our behavior and collective values. In the 1950s, the rule was “throw it anywhere, it will go away,” and smokestacks billowing black smoke were a proud symbol of productivity…

While we are in a paradigm, we take its rules and boundaries for granted. It is what we call “reality.” Like eyeglasses with colored lenses, our paradigm colors whatever we perceive. “Most of our notions about the world come from a set of assumptions which we take for granted, and which, for the most part, we don’t examine or question,” says Werner Erhard. “We bring these assumptions to the table with us as a given. They are so much a part of who we are that it is difficult for us to separate ourselves from them enough to be able to talk about them. We do not think these assumptions, we think from them.”

Expressions such as “that’s impossible,” or “that’s not the way we do it around here” speak to the existence of paradigms, or belief systems, that are operating, unseen, in the background. Like water to a fish, they are not recognized by us as our paradigms. Yet, they influence what we think – and even what we see.

Once we recognize that our paradigms are an invisible structure through which we think, the next step is to understand the degree to which they determine what we see and experience. Their influence is far more powerful than we may realize.

Thomas Khun, who in 1962 wrote a seminal book on scientific paradigms called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, points to an experiment that illustrates the paradigm effect. In the experiment, originally reported in 1949, people were briefly shown a deck of playing cards in which some cards had red spades instead of black. The subjects literally saw the red spades as black, because that’s what they expected. Once the anomaly was pointed out, the subjects had no trouble spotting the red spades. The experiment and others like it led Khun to the conviction that our paradigms act as filters on reality. We never see the world directly; we always see it through these paradigms filters. We never see the world in its entirety; we only see pieces. And our mental frameworks naturally bias us toward only seeing that part of the world that supports our paradigms.

“Our paradigms determine the way the world ‘shows up’ for us,” Says Erhard, “and that allows for only certain possibilities. Our paradigms determine our worldview, the way we perceive things, what we perceive, what we can see as possible, what we can’t see as possible and what we can’t see at all. Ultimately, they limit our strategies and our actions.”

The secret of paradigms is that, with them, we construct our own reality. As Thomas Khun said in 1962: “When paradigms change, the world itself changes with them.”

It’s a revolutionary thought, and it is the most important thing to know about paradigms.

How reality occurs – or “shows up” – for people is not determined by what’s there to be seen, but by how we are seeing it.

Erhard says that instead of waiting for a new paradigm to become apparent, we can create and invent futures that “were not going to happen anyway.”  He points out that when a breakthrough is needed, what is often called for is the development of a new paradigm.

“Changing the paradigm does not negate the need for realistic, hard-headed thinking,” he says. “In ‘business as usual,’ we get clear about the situation to determine what we can do and what we can’t. But to produce a breakthrough, you have to stand the usual approach on its head.”

The process begins with inventing a new possibility, without regard to whether you know what to do to realize it. You then look back at the situation from the standpoint of that new possibility.

“That is what gives you the new perspective and what allows you to see the situation in a way you haven’t seen it before,” says Erhard. “That is the beginning of generating a new paradigm. Breakthroughs are a product of seeing something in a new way, which enables you to see new opportunities and new openings for action that you couldn’t see before. Breakthroughs come as a result of shifting your commitment from the predictable future to a possible future.”

In so doing, we will – literally – change the world that there is for us to see.

Power is a Function of Velocity

“Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.”

-Werner Erhard