Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Enrollment Is A Miracle

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

September 18, 2014

"Until what is significant is created by you, you aren't living your life: you are living some inherited life."  ... 
This essay, Enrollment Is A Miracle, is the seventh in a group of twelve on Enrollment: It is also the sequel to
  1. Some Inherited Life: A Discovery
  2. Beginner's Mind: On Having No Memory
in that order.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.

Enrollment isn't persuasion. Enrolling someone isn't coercing them. You can't enroll someone through threat or force. Persuasion, coercion, threat, and force may each accomplish something by way of altering a person's behavior. But whatever they accomplish, whatever that something  is, it's not enrollment. Why? It's not enrollment when the power stays with the persuader, with the coercer, with the threatener, with the forcer. If it's really enrollment, the enrollee gets the power - which is to say if it's really enrollment, the enrollee discovers her own access to power. Enrollment is creating a new possibility for another so they're touched, moved, and inspired by that possibility (as a Landmark Forum Leader may have said). In being touched, moved, and inspired, the enrollee discovers her own access to power in the matter.

When I don't pay attention to this distinction, it's easy for me to cross the line from enrollment to persuasion in an enrollment conversation. Indeed, without paying attention, it's a slippery slope  from enrollment to persuasion. My own particular rule of thumb for preventing my enrollment conversations going down that slippery slope, is this: if I find myself in an enrollment conversation and I notice I'm drifting toward persuading and away from enrolling, I stop the conversation immediately.

The moment I realize I'm persuading rather than inspiring a new possibility, I end it right there. Or the moment I determine I can't tell  whether or not what I'm saying is producing any value, that ends it for me too. I can't read the mind, so I can't reliably say if whatever I'm speaking is wanted and needed  (it may be, or it may not be). What I can  say reliably is if I'm being enrolling rather than persuading, I can tell there's a tangible listening for my speaking. That's how I know.

If I've stopped the conversation because I've noticed I've drifted toward persuading and away from enrolling, or if it becomes apparent whatever I'm speaking isn't wanted and needed, I'm willing to re-visit the subject later if it's appropriate to do so - which is to say if there's a request for it or if there's a new listening for it. But in the absence of a request or new listening, it's time to move on. Another way of saying this, is as soon as I realize the conversation has become about the survival of my own point of view  ie the conversation is now about my own ego, and I'm not realizing my intention to empower someone else, that's when it's really over for me.

Enrollment As A Labor Of Love

I went to South Africa, stayed a year, and over the course of that year, led the first series of ten guest seminars around the country in the major cities, causing the first one thousand enrollments in South Africa, inexorably starting Werner's work there. The onset of Werner's work and transformation in South Africa, would later translate directly to Nelson Mandela's release from prison, and ultimately to the demise of apartheid. Who could not  be touched, moved, and inspired (and enrolled) by that possibility? It was work. It was a lot  of work. But it was effortless work, work like a labor of love, for which South Africa listened - generously and insatiably.

Indeed enrollment when done right (saying when done "right"  may not be the best way to say this - but for now it's good enough for jazz)  is effortless work like a labor of love. And then there are those amazing, unexpected, breathtaking  moments when people in my life are enrolled without me doing any work in particular, effortless or otherwise - which is to say when people are enrolled without an enrollment conversation. Being in the middle of ie experiencing this sort of enrollment is nothing short of a miracle.

Enrollment Without An Enrollment Conversation

I shared one of Werner's quotes I'm re-discovering newly for myself, with someone who's very close to me. It's the source quote for this essay's prequel titled Some Inherited Life: A Discovery. It also re-appears at the start of this essay. I read it to her: "Until what is significant is created by you, you aren't living your life, you are living some inherited life". Then I sat, full of anticipation, and waited - for questions, for requests for an explanation, for a challenge, for a debate (for an argument?), for resistance (maybe), for the enrollment conversation which would inevitably ensue.

She said "That's beautiful!", and I said "Yes, it's beaut ... Wait! What???". I was palpably surprised, taken aback. You know, I wasn't prepared for her to be so open, to get it so quickly, so easily, without asking me to explain it first. She did get it - totally. But I was so intent on being enrolling  that what I didn't get was there was nothing required for me to be or to do: she was already enrolled.

Experiencing someone already enrolled in what you're speaking (without ie not as the result of, an enrollment conversation) is, in the truest sense of the word, a miracle - and a privilege, to boot.


So that there's no overt significance, so that there's no unnecessarily implied "Woo Hoo!"  or biblical connotation to my deployment of the word "miracle" in this context of enrollment, notice I'm saying it here the way Werner defines it:

"A miracle is something that validates who you are rather than diminishes who you are.".

So: enrollment validates who you are rather than diminishes who you are. Therefore this is the way enrollment is a miracle.

That's it. That's all. A miracle / enrollment is nothing more than that - and nothing less.


Interimly enrollment is a conversation. Ultimately it's a way of being. It's a possibility  - a touching, moving, inspiring, beautiful, miraculous possibility.

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