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


Safety, Privacy, Security, Confidentiality

Landmark Forum For Reviewers, Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California, USA

October 4, 2010



"Transformation shows up in my mouth."  ... 
This essay, Safety, Privacy, Security, Confidentiality, is the companion piece to It is also the fifth in an open group inspired by Landmark Programs: Conversations For Transformation receives its quarter millionth view with the publishing of Safety, Privacy, Security, Confidentiality.




To borrow from a friend, my word shows up in my mouth  - which means my word will have bite  from time to time. That said, I'm careful and mindful of when it's not appropriate to be ruthless  with people, and when it is.

Let me qualify this.

When I look at how it occurs for me when someone is ruthless with me, sometimes it doesn't work and sometimes it works.

It never  works for me when someone being ruthless with me is simply being manipulative  ie when they're using force in an attempt to get what they want from me.

<aside>

Listen: when someone being ruthless with me is simply being manipulative, I can make  it work by getting  their communication then doing nothing with it. So when I say "it never works", I'm saying it never works as a powerful way of being. Being ruthless in order to manipulate isn't a powerful way of being. Using force in order to manipulate isn't a powerful way of being.

<un-aside>

When it works for me is when the person being ruthless is coming from compassion and integrity. Recalling a time when a woman was ruthless with me when it worked, I was grateful for the way it played out in the end - that is to say, I was grateful after I took the time to evaluate what happened. The surprise  of it jarred  me out of an area where I was stuck. What happened was during a telephone conversation we were having in which I was being, frankly, an arrogant asshole, she said "OK, what happens next is either you hang up, or I will.".

She was ruthless. No one had ever spoken to me that way before. My mouth opened and closed like a goldfish. And to this day, I still don't recall which one of us hung up first. But one thing's for sure: the conversation came to an abrupt halt, and with it my arrogant asshole-ness.

The woman being ruthless with me did so with great compassion and integrity (I only got that much  later after my righteous indignation had subsided). As a result of how she was with me, I gave up that jerky  way of being - and honestly it was a relief to do so. Had she not spoken with me the way she did, I wouldn't have seen a possibility for a new way of being. When I got that, I thanked her. We've been firm friends ever since, and today she's one of my major inspirations.

So I've gotten, given people are as big as they are, it's OK for one's word to have bite ie for my  word to have bite from time to time provided  I'm coming from compassion and integrity. It's not going to work if I'm coming from anywhere else.

What's all this got to do with safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality?

When it comes to the safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality of the people I'm committed to, I'm ruthless. There are no second chances with betrayal. The people who count on me to protect them, to maintain and honor their safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality do so knowing there'll be no lapses, no betrayal. One word spoken out of place, is a word out there in the world. One moment of gossip, one moment of idle chit chat, and a trust is violated, often with irretrievable and irreversible damage to a person's safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality. Once out, the genie never gets back in the lamp.

You promise you'll never violate someone's trust. You give your word you'll never speak about their personal business with anyone but them. At this level of secrecy  if you will, there's a foundation for safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality. There's space for all that, but without a certain key element, it all may simply reek of paranoia. This level of secrecy I'm speaking about doesn't come from paranoia. It comes from love and respect. Now that's a whole new ballgame. In this new ballgame, you may not even make a promise like this to someone's face. You may not even tell them  you've made this promise. In this new ballgame, maintaining secrecy to ensure the safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality of someone you're committed to whom you love and respect may simply be a stand you take by your Self.

Let's say you're the solo astronaut on the first manned space flight to Mars. You arrive on Mars and there's no one there. So there's no one there to speak with. Do you still  keep your word with the people to whom you've promised to maintain their safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality? Do you still keep your word even if  there's no one around  for you to speak out of turn with, and break your promise with? Indeed, is it even valid  for me to keep my word if there's no other human being in the universe for me to keep it with? What does keeping my word mean then?

Breaking my promise to maintain secrecy to assure the safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality of the people I'm committed to just because there's no one to communicate with  is, I assert, too simplistic. Consider even when there's no one around  with whom I could speak and break my promise with, I still honor my promise to maintain secrecy. It's a function of what I create. It's a function of what I stand for. It's not  a function of anyone else being around to do it with. And there may indeed be other people around. However, my promise to maintain secrecy to assure the safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality of the people I'm committed to doesn't require being around anyone else for me to make that promise to.

When this secrecy is threatened in any way, I'm ruthless. This is the kind of ruthlessness I'm talking about which works. It's ruthless with gossip. It's ruthless with idle chit chat. It's ruthless with the conversations  in which gossip and idle chit chat occur. So it will, from time to time, look like it's authless with the people  in the conversations in which gossip and idle chit chat occur which don't assure and can't maintain the safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality of the people I'm committed to. If it looks like it's ruthless with the people in such conversations, it's because it is.

Now: if you extend the domain of "the people I'm committed to"  to include you  and to include me  and to include my children  and to include everyone, you get a whole new level of integrity in speaking. And it's not that there's anything significant  about it, mind you. It's that when all is said and done and you notice the truth about it, nothing less works.



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