You’ve heard about the Landmark Forum, and you’re curious to find out what it’s all about.
You are certainly not alone in your skepticism and your curiosity. I was once invited to an intro to the Landmark Forum 5 states away by my crying mother, and the event was less than 24 hours away on a Tuesday night. Odd behavior to say the least.
I tried to Google it to figure out what this whole Landmark thing was about, and the articles that came up we’re not fulfilling my needs. I was still curious and frankly a little confused.
There was some very polarizing views on the Landmark Forum, and some of the stories and descriptions were interesting to say the least. I say that because the articles said a lot of negative things about The Forum, where as my mom had these major breakthroughs and was giving off so much compassion and love.
It seemed like there was anger and negativity in what was posted about Landmark for the same reason the news always covers negative stories. It’s easier, and it’s effective.
In this article, I’m going to cover everything you need to know about The Landmark Forum, and detail my experiences, both good and bad. I have completed two of the four Landmark Courses, and they had a profound impact on my life. There was also some things about Landmark Education that I don’t like, and I’ll explain those to you in detail as well.
By the end of this post, you will be able to make an educated and informed decision on whether or not the Landmark Forum is for you, and you’ll be able to plainly see that it’s not what others on the internet have made it out to be…shocker I know.
So What is Landmark Worldwide?
Landmark Worldwide is a personal growth course consisting of four segments, which together form what they refer to as The Curriculum for Living.
The four segments are:
- The Landmark Forum
- The Landmark Seminars
- Landmark Advanced Course
- Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP)
Landmark has classrooms in many cities around the world, and finding a course near you and signing up is easy.
I completed The Landmark Forum in July 2017 and The Advanced Course in December 2017.
My wife Michelle completed both courses with me.
Both my parents have completed the entire Curriculum for Living.
I have extended family that has also completed numerous Landmark Worldwide courses.
First things first…
Let’s Get the FAQ’s Out of the Way
How much is it? Price varies slightly from city to city, but the Forum is $600
How Long is it? 9am to 9pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 7pm-9pm Tuesday.
That seems intense… It is. You think that changing the course of 100-200 people’s lives is anything BUT intense? Nope. It’s heavy. It’s intense. And it’s incredible.
Is it Worth it? HELL YES. Not only that, they should actually charge more.
Wait, it’s really that impactful?? Yes…YES…yes.
So what’s it about? It teaches you how to live a life that you love, instead of surviving life in general.
But I have a good life already… Of course you do! That’s because you HAVE A LIFE. That in and of itself is amazing! Landmark teaches you how to live it FULLY and POWERFULLY.
So is it a cult? I googled it and…Short answer, of course it’s not. Detailed answer HERE.
So what is The Landmark Forum then? I’m Glad you asked!!
What to Expect in The Forum (The Mechanics)
The Forum takes place in a meeting room for roughly 12 hours per day on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then has a three hour closing on Tuesday Night.
The set up of the room is basic, and designed to be the same at every meeting. There are two chalkboards, four TVs, and two banners hanging from the ceiling with some wording on it that you’ll learn about. There is a stage that the Landmark Forum Leader will present most of the course from, and at the back of that stage there will be a table with an orchid on it, a yellow rag in a white bowl, a dictionary, and a glass of water.
There are two microphones, one on either side of the stage. These are important. This is where the Forum truly takes place, and where the power of this course comes from. More on that later.
The layout of the room depends on the location. I attended the Landmark Forum in Houston, TX where there is large windows on either side of the room.
Behind the participants in the course is the Landmark Staff. They do all the behind the scenes set up, and time keeping. They will be mostly volunteers that are Landmark Graduates who have participated in the course already, and a few Landmark Employees.
You will be given a white name badge that has your first and last name on it in black letters.
The chairs are pretty typical for a classroom style presentation. Some cushion…some.
You will be asked not to take notes, and the reasoning is sound. You can take notes if you want to, but I suggest you trust the process and don’t.
There aren’t too many breaks. A short 30 minute lunch, a longer 90 minute dinner break, and a few short little breaks in between.
The number of participants in the course varies greatly depending on the location. Typically there is 150 to 200 people enrolled in the Forum. We had fewer than 60 people in our Advanced Course.
So what’s it like sitting in a room for 12 hours straight?
It’s fine. Truly. There are moments that are uncomfortable, but the content of the course is highly engaging, so you won’t notice it too much. On Sunday night I was actually disappointed to not be going to the course the next day!
I do have two HIGHLY VALUABLE suggestions to help you with sitting for 12 hours…
- Be in an open mind-state. Be ready to learn, be positive, and get ready for some concepts that are counterintuitive, but trust that it will all make sense.
- Bring a lot of gum. Also, if you are a fidgeter, bring some toothpicks too. It will give you something to do.
The Landmark Forum (The Principles and Teachings)
The Forum Leader will teach various ideas about life, and you will be invited to consider these ideas through self reflection, and sharing your experiences with the room.
These teachings include:
- Regarding a major event in your life, there is a big difference between what actually happened and the story that you tell yourself using your interpretation of what happened.
- Our behavior is governed by a perceived need to look good, or not look bad.
- We have complaints that are persistent, that help us cope with something that we are uncomfortable confronting, but the complaint only reinforces the fact that this thing we dislike will happen again and again.
During The Landmark Forum, participants are encouraged to call friends and family members that they have unresolved issues with, and to take responsibility for their own role in these strained or even broken relationships.
The Tuesday night Forum session closes up the teaching from the weekend, and completes the Landmark Forum. This is where the participants are encouraged to bring guests to learn about the Forum, and share their results, and breakthroughs.
Let’s Talk About Where The Forum Really Takes Place (At The Microphones)
I had referenced the Microphones earlier, saying “…this is where the Forum truly takes place.”
The Forum Leader will be very encouraging for the participants to share their breakthroughs, and breakdowns with the whole room. Every time you raise your hand to speak, you have to go to the microphone.
It’s no surprise that in the beginning of the course, this sharing is a little sparse, and will likely be dominated by a select handful that are just more open by nature (are there plants in there to get that sharing going? You decide. I’m not a conspiracy theorist so I don’t really care if there is or not). But as the breakthroughs continue to take place in peoples lives, the rest of the participants start to feel COMPELLED to share with the others in the course.
These stories are going to be amazing. There will be many tears shed by the individuals that are at the microphones, and some stories will cause tears to be shed by the rest of the room.
The most amazing part of the Forum for me was watching the Forum Leaders in action as they coached participants through breakdowns. The Forum Leaders are truly special people and there just isn’t words to describe the help that they offer to the world.
A participant will go to the microphone and be angry, or frustrated, or sad about something. The Forum leader will ask questions and coach them through this using the teachings of the course that have been covered, and dig into this event or perceived problem so as to help the person see their role in creating the very problem that they are so upset about.
The subsequent breakthroughs and courage that ensues is inspiring and where you can actually apply the teachings to the issues that you have in your life.
What am I Going to Learn? (Your Breakthrough)
What are you going to learn? That’s up to you, and it’s unique to you. Like I said before, the over reaching concept of Landmark Education is to teach you how to live a live that you love.
You may learn that you have harbored resentment against people who you want to love you, and that resentment has cost you the very love that you crave.
You may learn that you isolate yourself as a way to avoid the rejection that you think is coming, even though you love people and are in fact quite lonely.
You may learn that you have had a great life and that you have a great support system.
Or maybe you learn that YOU are a great support system for others.
The clear point here is that this list could go on and on. Everyone comes out with their own distinctions and breakthroughs.
A Little Insight into what I Got…(Role Model Issues)
I discovered one main thing about myself that has been rather profound, and has created the ability for me to do something that I don’t really remember being able to do before.
To be me.
My whole life, the personality traits that I THOUGHT I was supposed to have, we’re all made up in my head…I was trying to LEARN how to be someone that I’m not.
So let’s start at the beginning of the Landmark Forum…
I was very excited to be enrolled in the course.
As I said, both of my parents had been through it, and then been able to make incredibly bold changes in their lives so easily! I had visions coming out of the course as the incredible engaging, outgoing person that I’d always pictured myself as. This smiling, hand shaking, charmer that lights up rooms when I walk in.
Coming out of the Forum, admittedly, I was a bit torn because not only did this not happen, I actually felt like I got quieter. When in a group, I would now say very little, which was unlike me, but even more unlike what I THOUGH I was supposed to be!
I’m a deep thinker, and a deep learner. It leads my brain to be a bit of a “slow learner”. Not in the sense of “being slow”, but in order for me to learn, I have to take the concept apart, reflect on the pieces, and then put it all back together. It can take a while.
So I remained in this confused state for a month or so.
For the record I did feel AMAZING though! Like some emotional baggage was lifted, but almost like I didn’t get my breakthrough. Like my experience was mediocre in comparison to others.
Then all the sudden I started to put the pieces back together…things began to open up…I started to figure it out. Figure ME out.
I can be introverted. Hence the deep thinker. Hence the analytical nature. Hence my highly outgoing wife! (Opposites attract ya know).
Here’s my breakthrough (And as Promised, it’s Profound)
All the behavior that I have modeled from leaders that I look up to was in direct opposition to my strengths.
To say that differently…
Since I was a child, I was trying to be something, more accurately SOMEONE, that I wasn’t. I thought to be the leader I needed to be loud and charismatic. Engaging and persuasive. What I call “the mayor” in all situations.
I still can’t figure out where I picked this up from…
But my nature is to actually sit back and analyze. Listen, and talk when I have some expertise in the matter, not talk to make sure others hear me talk.
I have years worth of regret from leaving social situations thinking that I didn’t make an impact, or that I wasn’t “on” tonight. Like I had “failed” the event.
So Two Things Came from the Breakthrough…
The first is by far the most impacting for my life.
Since I now who I am know, I can be me.
Do you have ANY IDEA how freeing of a feeling that is? Especially since I didn’t know that I wasn’t already being myself to begin with. I thought I was being me, and that I was working at being more outgoing.
I actually thought that outgoing people had to work at being outgoing. Like it was a skill, not a personality trait.
Now, as I have gotten in tune with myself, I can go to dinner with friends, and actually be at dinner with my friends. I’m not constantly wondering if I made a lasting impression or if I was funny enough, of if I portrayed myself as a leader…I can just be me.
The best part about this whole thing, and this still astonishes me…
People are more engaged with me. They enjoy my company more now, than when I was trying to make sure they enjoyed my company.
I also find comfort in the fact that I don’t care if I didn’t meet everyone at the party any more. Before enrolling in Landmark Education, if I passed by a person, and didn’t talk to them, I thought I was a bad networker for not going out of my way to make conversation. Now, I can just hang out. They didn’t talk to me, I didn’t talk to them, and it means nothing at all.
I used to have an anxiety when there was something social coming up because I had to muster up so much energy to be outgoing and try to be the “life of the party”.
Now, I can just go somewhere, hang out, let people come to me (or not), and be totally relaxed.
The Second Breakthrough (Finding Strengths to Exploit)
Now that I’m getting to know myself, I can work on developing my strengths, being as I can actually find them, versus trying to create them like I was prior.
I work for a large company that has an amazing culture of investing in its employees. Every fall, we have a meeting that is catered to teaching us something new, and guess what this falls meeting was called?
Strengths Finders. Not kidding.
Best timing ever or what?
So I take the Strengths Finders questionnaire, I get my packet at the meeting, and my #1 strength is looking me in the face, and I have to be honest, I was surprised. It was “Learner”.
It describes me as someone who loves the journey of learning, but the end result of the journey is not that important. It’s not about “knowing”. It’s about obtaining the knowledge. Then when I’ve learned something, I switch gears and start learning something new.
AKA I get bored after I master something.
This is so true, and something that I always (not kidding here either) thought was a weakness. It drove me crazy that I would spend all this time, effort, and sometimes money to learn this thing that was going to “take me the top” and then when I master it, I’d lose interest. I’d use the experience to help guide me, but I wouldn’t LIVE IT anymore. I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried.
It’s worth stating this again a bit clearer…I treated my number one strength, like it was my number one weakness.
Also notice that it was more of me trying to be someone that I’m not.
And believe me, I’d MASTER things to where I could recite it backwards and forwards…just to lose interest. Over and over.
It left me always chasing the past. Trying to get back to something that I used to do, instead of chasing the new thing to learn.
My strength had become my greatest weakness because I was confused about what was actually happening!
Now that I have made this important distinction, I worry less about the application of something that I learn, and instead I just enjoy the ride, relishing in the research and the thinking and hypothesizing and the debating of pros and cons. I find the joy in the learning now, and just leave it at that!
I’M A THINKER…and I love it.
What Came Out of My Breakthroughs? (I’m a Writer that Doesn’t Really Write Much)
So what came out of my breakthroughs from the Landmark Forum? Well, a lot actually.
The largest activity or behavior that came out of the Landmark Forum; I figured out that I’m a writer.
I actually always have been a writer. I’m good at it. I enjoy it. But I never cultivated it, or did anything with it.
Now I have the courage to do it.
It all started with a Journal that I bought, having pulled off the interstate in a courageous state to buy it, and I was unsure of actually making the purchase all the way to the cash register. You can read that story that HERE.
That journal then spilled online, and became a blog… And here we are, hanging out together!
The Most Important Thing That I got from the Landmark Forum.
Happiness. Straight up.
I’m in a leadership position with the company that I work for, and I love being in charge in general, and now I’m working on developing my leadership style.
As in MY leadership style.
It’s been so fun and so liberating.
I don’t worry about anything to do with human interaction any more. I just interact with people the way that I interact with people, and that genuineness builds a strong bond with the teammates that I get to work with.
The Last Thing that Came Out of This Whole Journey…
I had partaken in activities that weren’t very productive, but almost vices. Casual online gaming, and drinking beer being the two that come to mind.
I have completely stopped gaming, but it didn’t take “motivation” to quit. I just did. One day, I just kind of realized that my time is better spent reading, writing, or being with my family.
To say that differently; I’d rather learn, express myself, or build a relationship.
My three Clash of Clans accounts are now sitting idle since December 2017.
As for the beer, I loved it. I drank 1-3 beers per day and would buy different kinds and brews to try them all. I knew lots about different brands and ales etc…and then one day, I just really didn’t want to drink anymore.
I stopped drinking during the week all together, and then would have one or beers of Friday and maybe on Saturday. It went from a hugely important part of my life, to me not really caring.
It’s now nearly April, and both of those changes have stuck, and with little to no effort or discipline needed.
Ok, now for…
The Downsides to Landmark Education
So obviously it’s not ALL magic and breakthroughs.
There are some things about Landmark that I don’t particularly care for, and this is not unique to me. You’ve read this far, so you can clearly see that the good FAR outweighs the bad, but let’s get into it.
There is a ton of words and phrases that Landmark Education uses, and some of them are very unique. When the Forum Leader is using them, they fit perfectly into the context and flow of the conversation. Then when someone in the course tries to use them, it’s often forced into an area that it doesn’t really fit into. It can be clunky.
It’s like the 13-year-old that just started using swear words, and he can’t seem to get it right yet. “Don’t be such a stupid damn head.”
Then you have the Landmark Lingo Junkies. These are the people who have been incredibly impacted by the course, have fallen in love with what Landmark can do for others, and have since created themselves as a possibility at least 100 times since Sunday night. They can be challenging to be around because they try to talk like the forum leaders, but they don’t have anywhere near the experience using these new phrases.
It’s like that same 13-year-old that is new to swearing, and he’s now obsessed with using swear words, but does so in just the same awkward way above.
The Chosen Ones
There are a select few that I was in a Landmark course with that use the Landmark Language masterfully! They are talking with these new phrases intertwined into the conversation like they are a Form Leader! I think they are like the chosen ones. They were made to spread the Landmark message, and they are very inspiring to be around.
The other thing about the language that Landmark uses is that it can be confusing at times. They can use three syllable words when a one syllable word would have done just fine. And those big words are so close to being out of context that it can get confusing.
I actually made the joke that we could start a separate company that translates the Landmark content into regular English and make a ton of money!
The Integrity (Or the Integrityholics Rather)
So a HUGE part of Landmark is based on integrity. They have an incredible take on it, and it’s not linked to anything moral or righteous. It’s about honoring your word (not keeping your word). I’m not going to get into the particulars here, but how they approach integrity is awesome.
The Forum Leaders use the concept of integrity in a masterful and inspiring fashion.
Then what do we do? We abuse it. We turn everything into an integrity issue, and we run around restoring integrity with every person that you made even the lightest commitment with.
You’ll hear, “I’m out of integrity with you and I want to restore it. I was 1 minute late in calling you and I promise that next time I’ll call you on time.”
Dude, it’s one minute. Just say my bad, or I’m sorry. We don’t need to go through the WHOLE integrity schpeel every time there is a tiny crack in the integrity.
The lesson here is that the lingo is ACTUALLY awesome. But once it’s passed on to us “normals” we kinda butcher it and tarnish it’s meaning. FAST. Leave it to the pros folks!
The Hard Sell (Recruiting)
Now, as a salesman by trade, overall this doesn’t actually bother me. Landmark Worldwide is a business. They need more people to sign up so they can make money. That requires recruiting. Simple.
The sales pitches from the Forum Leaders are so good that most miss them entirely. Serious.
Of course, there are cynics who not only catch it, but they dwell on it. They think it’s the most egregious thing ever and they just can’t seem to understand it (there are plenty of articles about it on the web).
Honestly, some of these sales pitches add some real value as many of them are a review of what you’ve already learned.
Just know that it’s coming, that it’s really well thought out, and it’s part of the program. If you simply can’t stand it, go use the bathroom when a sales pitch starts, and take a deep breath because…it’s really not that big of a deal.
All that being said, when the room breaks and the selling is handed over to the Landmark employees, it’s a much different story.
They are not only poor sales people; they came across very inauthentic and pushy, but in an uptight way. I actually was eavesdropping on one of these conversations between a Landmark employee, and a guest that was not enrolled on the course on Tuesday night. The Landmark employee was trying to get him to got to the Forum and it was painful to listen to.
After the conversation ended, I approached the guest, and started interviewing him. I talked to him for about 15 minutes, and the conversation ended with him actually showing some interest in the Forum, and I gave him my card.
I followed up with his girlfriend a few months later, who was a participant in the course, and he ended up not enrolling, but at least I was able to open his perspective up to the work that Landmark does!
Inviting Others to the Forum
Full disclosure here, this was hard for my wife and I because we took all of our Landmark courses in Houston, TX, and we live in New Orleans, so we only knew one person in Houston.
I did personally invite five people to the introduction to the Landmark Forum in Houston, TX, even though they lived in California, Utah, and South Dakota respectively. My one buddy from Houston did come with his wife (who we’re now also friends with).
During the Forum, you will want to invite everyone you know to enroll in this program. It’s not only life changing, but to be surrounded in life by other landmark graduates is pretty incredible.
For me, the inviting of others during the Advanced Course got to a level that I would describe as “peer pressure”. If you didn’t invite anyone to Tuesday night, you we’re almost judged. It was intense…but the wrong kind of intense.
The Big Reveal (A New Game)
Here’s the crowning moment of this whole post, and the best way that I can describe what changes, or “opens up for you” as you enter the world after having gone through the Landmark Forum…
You are playing a new game in life.
It’s not better, or worse, or changed. It’s a whole new approach to living your life that puts you in a place of power with yourself and others.
The old game was just to survive. Get through.
This new game is to be the author of a life you love. To write a life that you want, and create new possibilities for yourself that connects you to the world, and to the community in new ways.
So Let’s Close it Like This….
Landmark Education is an amazing company that is focused on teaching people how to live a more powerful life.
There are some participants that have a bad experience, and some that don’t like it.
There are far more that have had great experiences, changed their lives, started their own businesses, reconnected with loved ones, etc. and it’s a direct result from what they learned at the Landmark Forum and in the rest of the Curriculum for living.
As with most things in life, the ones that love it just go forth and conquer.
The ones that don’t like it, complain about it in public places.
As a writer now, I thought that I could do my part as a Landmark Grad to spread the positive word, and encourage some people that may be on the fence about enrolling to tip the way of courage, and go. Go to the Forum. Have a weekend that will start something amazing for you!
I’m going to open myself up for any and all questions about all of Landmark Education’s services. I have been to the Landmark Forum, the Landmark Advanced Course.
My wife Michelle has done all the courses right along with me.
My parents have both completed the entire Curriculum for Living.
Thanks for reading 🙂