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


"Stop Leading The Forum: Be  The Forum"

Cowboy Cottage Cattle Pasture, East Napa, California, USA

March 18, 2021

"Stop leading the Forum: be  the Forum." ... 
This essay, "Stop Leading The Forum: Be  The Forum", is the twelveth in a group of eleven on Enrollment:

People say I've been successful in sharing the possibility Werner's work makes available. That's nice. But look: "successful" may not be the best word for this. Yet we can all relate to what it distinguishes here. So "successful" is good enough for jazz. "Effective", on the other hand, may work better. Either way, the end result was the same: people got from me what could be newly possible for their lives. Trusting this, they registered to participate in Werner's work. Then after they graduated, along with being delighted with everything they got, they realized that they probably underestimated what's really possible ie the magnitude of what it really makes available.
Werner's work and what it calls forth, can't be explained in the colloquial sense of the word "explained" - not unless you're OK with "'Caterpillar?'  being explained by 'Butterfly!'". Explanations drive transformation into the realm of stories where it simply doesn't work well. That said, there are indeed certain critical ideas which form the steel frames / structures / supports for the distinctions of Werner's work, and I've been successful in distinguishing some of those ideas too, many of which are exquisitely abstract, in ways that can be heard and gotten, and in ways that open up what may become possible if the entire spectrum of these ideas are considered.

What I've noticed in all of the above, is that real success in enrollment has got very little to do with enumerating what people could get from Werner's work (and we do enumerate this, so everyone will know what's at stake). It's got arguably even less to do with explaining the abstractions of Werner's work (instead, we distinguish  them - but in their rightful place: in the Forum itself). And it's got almost nothing  to do with having people understand the ideas and distinctions of Werner's work (to review a page taken from the Forum itself, there's the proviso that understanding is actually the booby prize). No, almost all enrollment success comes down to one thing: who you're being. Period. If transformation is going to have any value at all, it will show up in who you're being, and less in how deftly you wield the material.

I'd like to share two examples of this. Here's the first one: I started Werner's work in South Africa. I went there in 1979, delivered the first ten guest events there, and enrolled the first one thousand people there. Upon arriving in Cape Town where I'd completed my university education nine years earlier, the first thing I did was visit family and look up old friends. We sat around talking, drinking Rooibos tee. I had no strategy for what was about to happen. Rather, I noticed it seemed to unfold just in the process of life itself. People said to me "You're different than when we last saw you", and "Something has changed about you", and "What happened to you?". They were naturally curious, intrigued, enthralled. They noticed I was a being anew. It all began out of that space: the transformation of an entire country. All of it.

Here's the second one: at the end of one of those seminars at the Newlands Hotel, a man came up to me, and said in a thick boer  accent "You spoke for an hour. I didn't understand anything you said. Whatever you've got, I want it.". That's enrollment. He didn't understand anything I said. But he got the possibility of a new way of being ie a new presence for himself and his life from who I was being. That's what he heard. That's what he wanted. Listen: wanting this quality, is universal for people. It's arguably the single common denominator that unites us all in the face of our plethora of differences. It called to him louder than anything he understood.

Be authentic. Be vulnerable. It's alright to share. Be generous. Keep your integrity in. Don't get stuck in the significance of it all. Honor your word. To be transformed is to be all of the above - and more. Ultimately it's in who you're being that people are enrolled. And as for your understanding of the critical ideas which are the steel frames for the essential abstractions of Werner's work, and whether you're brilliant at sharing them lucidly or not, in that they only have a meagre, passing interest.

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