Landmark is a training provider offering personal development courses at locations across the world. Back in 2012 I attended one of their open evenings in the UK, having been invited by my dad, who had just completed The Landmark Forum. The Landmark Forum is an intensive weekend-long personal development course and I suppose you could describe it as the ‘bread and butter’ for Landmark, as it’s the main course on offer and provides a foundation to move on to their advanced courses.
The open evening provides an opportunity to meet one or more of the course leaders, gain an understanding about the format and content of The Landmark Forum and (as the open evening also acts as the completion of the most recent course), an opportunity for attendees to hear from a number of course-goers, willing to share their experiences and breakthroughs. The open evenings are a pretty hard sell, however the course leaders claim that word of mouth is the only real way Landmark promotes its courses, and therefore explains why the ‘sell in’ is noticeably more aggressive in its approach than others I’ve encountered. Usually I’d be really put off by this, however I was swayed. The open evening was pretty powerful and my dad spoke very highly of his own experiences from the course, so encouraged both me and my sister to sign up ourselves… which we did!
If you look on the website, you’ll see a description about the The Landmark Forum, which may seem somewhat ‘fluffy’. There are lots of words such as: positive, power, freedom, possibilities and achievements. This all sounds great, but in reality, what does this actually mean? You may be wondering what you can expect from the course, so I will try to explain my experience of it. I suppose it’s about having an intensive period (an entire weekend) to re-think the way you perceive events within your life and to strip back your attitudes, beliefs and opinions, and question where they have actually come from in the first place. The weekend gives you the time and mental space needed to truly think. You learn their approach (Landmark’s theory as to why we hold the attitudes we hold – and behave the ways we do) as well as their terminology, which goes hand-in-hand with their approach.
One of the terms Landmark uses to describe our hang-ups or fixed ways of being is ‘rackets’. These are things we hold on to, even if they don’t appear to be positive, because on some level we receive a kind of pay off for holding onto these. For example, I identified that one of my rackets was that I held other people accountable for my happiness. I realised however, that the pay off for holding onto this was that it alleviated me of any responsibility for making myself happy. It was easier for me to blame other people when I wasn’t. I also identified that the cost of holding onto this racket was… my happiness! The good news is that becoming consciously aware of this racket gave me the opportunity to do something about it. I can say with all honesty that I make more effort now than I ever have done to grab my happiness in both hands and hold onto it! It’s up to me to nurture it and no one else, and that realisation has been priceless. I am generally more positive now and try not to let others affect my mood (an ongoing challenge), I do more of the things I enjoy, like volunteering and supporting charities and I take far more responsibility for my social life than I ever did. I stopped waiting around for other people to invite me out (and winging when I didn’t like their plans) and began to take more control over my own social life. By doing this, I found out that I actually enjoy being the person to take the lead in arranging social events!
The course also has a substantial focus on relationships of all kinds – those with colleagues, friends, family members, anyone that may have had/has a significant impact on your life. The Landmark Forum provides the tools for people to reassess situations, conversations and disputes that have happened – and to help you see them more clearly from the other person’s perspective. You are then challenged to separate what happened in a particular scenario (the objective part) from how you felt about what happened (the subjective part) – and then, with your new understanding, make amends with that person. It might sound unlikely, but we all did this. Everyone went away and reached out to people in their lives. Some people then shared their experiences of doing this the following day. Listening to some of the outcomes of people doing this was one of the most moving things I have ever experienced.
Following my completion of The Landmark Forum, I went on to complete a series of 10 of Landmark’s evening seminars, which follow on after the weekend course for anyone keen to put their learning into practice immediately. Beware, The Landmark Forum is for the open-minded. Be prepared to be fully committed and truly honest with yourself, it’s an emotional roller coaster. The pay off in this case however, is well worth it.