The state of our world today makes me think about the course I took at Landmark years ago (and reviewed twice since, each time getting it on a deeper level).
Just to give you a little background, Landmark is a cutting edge transformational company that offers courses that support people in living a created life. There is a curriculum for living, as they used to call it, that included 4 courses:
- Landmark Forum – where you got your personal transformation
- Seminar Program – where you practiced the tools in your life
- Advanced Course – where you got to create yourself as a possibility in the world
- Self Expression and Leadership Program – where you got what it takes to transform your own community
The first course was awesome, I remember being in it like it was yesterday. In just one weekend, I have turned my life around. I was a 27 year old Montenegrin girl living in New York, bartending for living even though I had a Master Degree in Liberal Arts (Film and Psychology) and struggling with my identity, relationships, finances and self-image. Sunday afternoon of the Landmark forum was the moment I realized, down in my bones, that I create my life. I reap what I sow and if I wanted different results, I have to be different, which would have me do things differently, which will, in turn, help me create a different life.
This will sound like a total brag because it is: I have since, taken charge of my finances, turned them around, repaired relationship with people in my life, created different jobs until I created my own business, gotten married to an amazing man and had 2 children, created ton of art and have lived those 15 years with every cell of my being. I was down at times but never too long and never without realizing what was stopping me, letting it go and going back up. I have learned and acquired many tools since, but the transformational tools I got at Landmark have been crucial in my ability to turn things around.
As someone who always wanted to do well, personal transformation made sense. I was often complimented on how I do things in comparison with others but since we don’t live alone on this planet, it wasn’t enough for me to know.
In the second course, called Advanced Course, for the first time ever, I learned about what it was like to be all as one. You see, in life, we often make sure we clean “our side of the road” and then we get right about how well we did make others around us wrong for not stepping up. You can like being right only so much because eventually you become this superhero and everyone around you seems to be the jerk. I know some buy into that story but it’s absolutely contradiction this notion that we are all one. So, if we are all one, how do we deal with someone “misbehaving?”
I remember sitting in my course after a lunch break waiting for the leader to start. When someone yelled: “when are we gonna start?” she got up and said: “As a community, we are not here.” This puzzled us at first:
“But I am here!” “I don’t care someone else is late” “Why should we suffer because someone is not showing up” were just some of many things that people were shouting, all of us expressing the way we deal with the crises. Some of us were annoyed to be slowed down by others, some of us completely resigned to that fact. But the magical thing happened next: as we were each dealing with our egos, and willing to acknowledge it and get what was at stake, people start arriving. As if by magic, when we were all willing to see that we were, in fact, one, everyone was in their seats.
Years later, in preparation to leading my own course, I reviewed this program. Same conversation happened, except now, I knew that we weren’t going to start until everyone was in. Josselyn, one of my favorite humans and leader at Landmark, stopped people like me dead in our tracks. Instead of making the conversation about everyone being in their places, she called those of us who were leaders and had us stand up accountable for not acting like leaders. In my head, what went on was something like this: “Let them figure it out, I already know this!” which was sadly, just a different version of the initial upset with people misbehaving.
Fast forward, 2 years ago, right after my husband reviewed the course for himself, he insisted I did it too. But this time, when we were coming back to the break, instead of waiting for Josselyn to start the conversation about integrity and “operating as one,” I got up and looked around and despite not wanting to act almighty, I started asking everyone with an empty seat next to them: “Do you know who was sitting here and can you get in touch with them?.” Before you knew it, a few of us were stepping up assuring people were in the room and I have felt so much gratitude inside for what was available when I stepped up and demanded of others that they step up.
By the time next break rolled around, many people came to thank me and I realized, for all this times I considered myself a “leader” as a title or something I achieved, it is only when I put it in action that people were relating to me as a leader. This was life altering to me and taught me a valuable lesson: “don’t wait for someone to show up and save you, do what you can do right now, do it to the best of your ability and be willing to demand leadership of others because we can’t do anything alone but we can each do our part”
In times like this, we are called to be bigger than we want to be. I told my husband last night as I was just digesting everything that happened in my day: we are called to be the bigger versions of ourselves. The way we are right now isn’t enough. For me, that looks like taking care of kids, making sure that they are learning, playing, growing such that I can work on my books, help through my online programs, offer sessions for people to heal the parts of themselves that are still left disintegrated. These types of events bring out our own survival so it’s important to acknowledge where the fear is coming from and be sane in how we go forward. I also send emails to teachers to help them in every way and families that are impacted by kids staying at home. It’s just a beginning …
Now I ask you, what can you do right now? How can you step up into the leadership where you are and let go of a thought that one person makes no difference? A friend yesterday posted on Instagram a pot of food she made and offered to run for medicine and errands for elderly. I was so moved by her generosity. What can you do and how can I help? Please share your ideas and this blog with all those you think it can inspire into action.