Two weeks ago I started a course called Self Expression and Leadership Programme (SELP) with Landmark Education. Some of you may have heard more than you want to know about Landmark from both Asim and me (hehe, you know who you are!) and others may not even know that since April of this year I’ve done various courses with them.
I used to be one of those people who thought personal development books were well-meaning but useless at best and Western new-age crap at worst. But I’ve always been self-critical, interested in ‘improving/fixing’ myself and enjoyed learning in an interactive group setting. So yes when Asim first mentioned Landmark courses to me, I was intrigued but as a student had no money at the time. He had done a series of courses with Landmark Education 4 years ago (way before I met him) and I remember the very first time we spoke on the phone, he mentioned the courses and how much he had gained from them in terms of how he communicated, the way he understood people and even success at work. Then I sort of forgot about them until this year when a friend convinced Asim to do another of the courses, the Introduction Leaders Program. I went to one of the guest events and registered.
I did the Landmark Forum in April and then the Advanced Course in July. I also attended a series of free Seminar sessions available to graduates. The courses are designed in such a way that you start with yourself and then move outwards at the level of small groups to large communities. We live in growing concentric circles of connectedness (from self to relationships to family to friends to community to country to the world). The course I’m doing now is a three month leadership course in which you design and implement a community project. The idea is that by contributing to others you also gain a lot yourself and that in a way is real leadership. I’ll tell you in another post what my project is but just to let you know I’m exploring how I can help flood survivors in Pakistan.
Landmark is one of those things, that when you’re out of it you think ‘oh who needs these courses? Why can’t people fix their lives themselves?’ or you’re slightly embarrassed sharing with others because you think they’ll think you’re messed up or weird. But guess what? Everyone is messed up and weird in their own way. Every single person out there. And that’s not weird. This really hit me while doing my Landmark courses. People are just people. Whether they are young or old, men or women, straight or gay, black or white or whatever. In the courses, we had people who you think are so successful or experienced or drop-dead gorgeous or ‘completely sorted’ and then you realize, they’re dealing with their own set of issues. Even those who think they have no issues! :) This of course doesn’t mean that we only connect with people at the level of our ‘issues’ but what this opened up for me was that I became more forgiving of others and less intimidated. Instead of building up walls between myself and others, I was able to see them as just people with their strengths and weaknesses- just like me.
Anyway, every time I go to Landmark I’m reminded of who I say I want to be in life. And sometimes it’s good to get that reminder. We’re all so busy with our lives, who takes the time out for personal reflection and evaluation? How many times do we sincerely make promises that we actually know how to keep? Why do we break our word, especially to ourselves? And when we do, how do we restore integrity so that others, and especially we ourselves, can believe in the person we say we are? Sometimes it can be trivial things like resolving to sort out your cluttered drawer or over-committed calendar. And sometimes it can be something more significant like being there for a friend who needs you but you don’t know ‘how’ to help her or making an effort to speak to a family member who you just don’t know what to say to or when the love isn’t there.
Being at Landmark allows me to feel inspired and motivated to do something with my life. It makes me want to connect with family and friends. It pushes me to get organised, punctual and be true to my word- to others and myself. And what that results in is a peace of mind, freedom from resentment or regret, and happiness. As Ina Garten says when something is particularly yummy, “How bad can that be?” :D