Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category
“Professor Michael Jensen and Werner Erhard, two extraordinary thinkers, engage in a conversation that explores groundbreaking access to being a leader and to the effective exercise of leadership as one’s natural self-expression.” -Simon Business School, University of Rochester
Personal development goes all the way back to the beginning when Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living and it’s not a matter of contemplating your navel, it’s a matter of having questions the consideration of which allow you to get an authentic look at yourself. We human beings are kind of wired to be admired. We want to look good. We want people to think well of us. So we try to be authentic. We try to be real with each other. Because one of the things that everyone knows is admired by others is if you are authentic. If you are kind of a phony you know no one is going to admire you. So, we want to be authentic. The beginning of all authenticity is to be authentic about your inauthenticity. And that’s how you start to get an honest view of yourself, is to be authentic about your inauthenticity.
I’ll give you an example. So in the normal course of events we think of our listening as a kind of empty bowl, so someone says something to me and there it is in that empty bowl and I take a look at it and then I respond and they respond. But if I suggest to a person that the bowl isn’t empty – there’s a listening there that’s already there before anyone says anything and it’s not only already there it’s always already there. So kind of already, always listening. For example, when I began to be authentic about my own inauthenticity, one of the things I discovered about my already always listening was that I already always knew. So it would be like, you and I are going to have a conversation and I have to say, “now hold on for a second, because you need to know before you tell me anything, that I already know, now what was it that you wanted to say?” As you can imagine I was a pretty difficult kid for the people who tried to teach me something. And that was the listening that I was. That’s actually the listening that I am – the difference is that I know about that inauthenticity about myself. And when I can be present to that inauthenticity I can kind of stop honoring it – I can stop being stuck with it. And I can actually empty my listening so that I can really hear what somebody says to me and kindof be in their shoes recreating what it is for them that they are saying to me rather than merely the way I understood what they said.
The Breakthrough Foundation was an independent non-profit organization dedicated to changing the direction of thousands of young people’s lives through the Youth at Risk Program. The project won national acclaim for its outstanding results in turning around the lives of young people who were severely at risk for drug abuse, unemployment, and violent crime. The National Institute of Justice studied the Youth At Risk Program and found a significant reduction in recidivism. President George H.W. Bush recognized the Breakthrough Foundation as one of his “thousand points of light.” -http://www.wernererhardfoundation.org/breakthrough.html
National Institute of Justice Evaluation of Youth at Risk Program
The original Breakthrough Foundation brought about independent charities using its Youth at Risk programs.
John Denver was a well known singer and songwriter in the 1970’s and 80’s and was a graduate of the Est Training. This video interview talks about his experience of the Est Training.
Among the other well known people who participated in the Est Training were, Cher, Yoko Ono Valerie Harper and Raul Julia.
A new documentary about Werner Erhard and the Est Training and it’s legacy is coming out soon. The video below is a link to a promotional trailer.
The following is a review of the film by Laurence Platt:
A film by Robyn Symon
Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard
One of the many remarkable aspects of Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard is its unbiased approach. It pulls no punches. It hides no skeletons. It opens all closets and allows you free access with almost voyeuristic freedom and intensity to Werner’s private, personal, and family life. It also has extensive coverage of Werner’s work over the last thirty six years from the est training to his ideas which are the basis for the Landmark Forum. It features many figures who have worked with Werner over the years, celebrities who have participated in his work, and titans from established academia and the blue chip business world who have incorporated Werner’s ideas into their methodologies with enormous yet unheralded impact.
But the microscope here, the scrutiny of the project, is on Werner Erhard himself. And a question I asked myself as I watched is this: Will it work? Will it create an open, evenhanded forum in which Werner’s magnum opus and its current form such as it exists in the world today, can be evaluated? Or will this approach backfire and fry its subject, like an ant caught by a child unceremoniously in the sun’s intensity focused through a magnifying glass?
It’s an approach which takes brass and boldness, and could quickly devolve into a total fiasco. This isn’t a feel good hymn to a man who has in transformation created, some say, the most powerful experience of their lives, and for others is nothing less than a slick snake oil salestype charlatan who’s simply in it for the money. This is documentary film making at it’s best. The depths it probes of simple human foibles as well as sheer heroism are arduous to take in at times. Two mantras meandered through my mind as I watched, not knowing what to expect next, fascinated. The first was: “He who is without sin cast the first stone”. The second was: “There but for the grace of God go I”. It’s riveting viewing which is sure to be as controversial as it is brilliant.
The fire is held unflinchingly to the soles of Werner Erhard’s life and work. The unspoken questions the movie poses are quite clear. Is what was said about Werner Erhard on 60 Minutes true? If not, why wasn’t it ever fully recanted? Why did Werner Erhard leave the USA? What’s he up to these days? And, arguably the most poignant question, what’s the validity of Werner Erhard’s work and legacy today and for the future if even some small fraction of what’s been said about him in the full frontal attack were true?
There’s an interesting moment in the film when a noted San Francisco Chronicle reporter confesses to and addresses what we all know: the media delights in making heroes, and then delights equally in crucifying them. Open season. No hunting license required.
What’s also interesting is how the film poses questions without fully answering them. This is not an oversight. It’s deliberate. You’re left with no choice but to come to your own conclusions based on coverage of Werner’s work bringing the possibility of transformation to the religious deadlocked conflicts in northern Ireland and the Middle East, to Madison Avenue advertising, to mainstream business, and to the political arena. Werner’s work is now, as he promised when he started it in 1971, melded and merged with where we come from in our thinking and principles today in these key areas of life. While no attempt is made by the producer to credit Werner with this enormous impact, Robyn Symon leaves you making up your own mind whether or not this legacy is authentic. You’re left to decide for yourself whether or not what’s been absorbed by colleges, business schools, and corporate management teams et al are indeed the results of ideas derived by Werner and made available through his seminars. No claim is made by Werner that this is true. And yet clearly the odds against it not being true are extremely high. Mainstream technology and terminology like this doesn’t simply arise by coincidence or by accident. One hundred monkeys bouncing around on one hundred typewriters for thirty six years will not write Macbeth.
It would have been too easy for the producer to find people who would only say great things about Werner Erhard. But to her credit, Robyn Symon gives free rein and total access to some of Werner’s harshest critics. This, I thought, is the mettle of Robyn Symon. Committed as she is to a true documentary, she doesn’t simply provide one side of the story. Far from it. It’s oddly difficult to watch the hospitality and grace with which she gives a platform to those who would totally negate Werner’s contribution to humanity. You watch, fascinated, as his harshest critics get to speak, are never interrupted, are well lit, and are shown in their best possible light – a favor they themselves have denied Werner on so many occasions. Again, you’re left to make up your own mind.
What I personally made up when I watched this approach, intrigued by its boldness, audacity, and sheer bravery, is how Werner himself would say it doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t mean anything that it doesn’t mean anything. Based on that, even critics, even opponents, even enemies get the opportunity to express themselves with dignity and in honor. How big is that? I thought. And what, then, could be the response from such enemies? “You did me a terrible disservice: you made me look too great.”? In this way, the film creates an open forum – for everyone – and totally extinguishes any suggestion of bias.
We see Werner tirelessly covering the planet. We see him at home. We see him at a sidewalk bistro in Paris. We see him at the Eye in London. We see him in Japan (and listen to him, with great dignity and compassion, shred the myth that the Japanese people are stoic). We see him with his mother Dorothy, just a boy and his Mom – the love between them is tender and palpable. We see him sitting cross legged, yogi-like on a beach (I liked that touch particularly). We even see him, Gary Cooper-like, walking off alone into the sunset.
Essentially what Robyn Symon presents us with, over and over and over, is the humanity of Werner Erhard, and you get to decide: Are the foibles of his life simply the results of a colossal ego run amok? Or are they the results of carefully made priorities and choices when, given the limit of twenty four hours only in every day, we each have to choose what our lives will be about?
In watching Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, you get to be with Werner and to stand with him intimately in soul baring nakedness as he speaks candidly about his choices, his failures, and his successes. The truth isn’t always palatable – not Werner’s, not yours, not mine. Especially not mine. Yet in the space of Werner’s bone numbing heroic honesty, transformation comes. It moved me to tears.
See this film. And bring your friends.