Transformation in Three Days

by Laurie Phillips



You can transform your whole life in just three days.   I did so four years ago, almost to the day as I write this.   And it’s still transformed.

How come?  Well it’s a long story, so this is just a brief glimpse. 

In November 1998 I was feeling decidedly strange.  I was having thoughts like – ‘If I am not a father, and a husband, and a therapist, who am I?”   This ultimately led me to deciding on a six month sabbatical on my own (wife of thirty one years at the time not best pleased!).  In essence I decided to do some travelling in America on what turned out to be the ‘Dancing Bear Journey’.  The transformation, which I’m coming to, was a central part of this journey, although at the outset, entirely unknown. 

My travels led me to New Mexico and I had been staying for a while at a friends house in Albuquerque.   After a couple of weeks, however, I felt I had outstayed my welcome and I moved into a hotel.   About a week later I received a call from my friend which went something like this.   “Laurie are you busy tonight?”  Me. “No”.  “Would you like to come with me to attend an invitation to a seminar my hairdresser has been nagging me to go to for two years!”  Me: “Fine, I’m happy to come”. 

And so I went knowing absolutely nothing about what I was heading for.  We arrived at a fairly swish hotel (I forget its name) and proceeded into a room with a substantial number of people facing a stage.   It began with a number of the people who were evidently this evening completing their seminar, standing up at the front of the room and telling enthusiastically how the last three days on this programme had transformed their lives.   They were compelling, vital and impressive stories and by the time we “guests” were invited into another small room to learn more about the course, I was sold on the idea of giving it a go. 

The small room experience had the opposite effect, a real turn off, but I had seen enough and three weeks later, in Denver, I duly arrived at Day 1 of the Landmark Forum.    For the first day and a half I have to admit I was getting more and more frustrated and annoyed, primarily because every few hours, we would get a commercial about the Advanced Course, or the Teenagers Course, or the Children’s Course.   On day 2 after lunch I finally had had enough and got up to the microphone.  “Look” I said “you say you don’t advertise, but you do, all we’ve had is advertising ever since we sat down here”.  I received a loud round of applause from most of the other two hundred people sitting with me, who clearly agreed.   The Forum Leader, took it calmly in his stride.  “Why can’t you listen to this?” he enquired gently, “Because there’s nothing in it for me”, I replied.  ‘Well” he said “ maybe you should enquire into what other situations in your life you don’t listen, because you think there is nothing in it for you”. 

I stood there and my mouth dropped open.  It was an uncanny experience.   I can only describe it as like one of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, where Tom runs into a mallet – there is a kind of boinnng! - and his whole body reverberates.  That moment was exactly like being hit over the head with a mallet.  I suddenly saw all those occasions when I did exactly what he described, failed to listen as I thought there was nothing in it for me.   It was what Landmark would describe as ‘a breakthrough’.   After that for the next day and a half I had about another eight such moments and by the end of the course, I knew my entire life had been transformed.

 For the previous twelve years or so I had been a practising psychotherapist, I had had 18 years of my own therapy and I thought I had life fairly well worked out.   Sadly I was entirely wrong and those three days rank as the most transformative of my life. 

The course always runs on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus a Tuesday evening which is the completion session.  On the Wednesday morning I was at Denver airport, wondering what on earth I had been through.  I picked up the telephone and called Landmark headquarters in San Francisco.   “Who is the Chief Executive?” I enquired – “Who wants to know?” came the rather obvious reply.  I explained who I was and that I had just completed the Forum.  They replied he was very busy leaving for a four week trip to the Far East on the following Monday.   I said “I have an  unreasonable request, I am changing my flight plans and flying to San Francisco tonight, I will be in your offices at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning and I would like to meet with him”.   ‘Making unreasonable requests of yourself and others’ is Landmark speak and at 9 a.m. the next morning I duly arrived at Landmark’s HQ and within a minute the Chief Executive, Harry Rosenberg came out to meet me. 

After a half hour with him, at which he was very frank about their successes and limitations, I departed saying I would be back in touch, which I duly was in time.   Harry and I are now good friends and we communicate regularly.  I have subsequently done another fifteen other Landmark programmes over the last four years, as have my wife and children.   So what difference has it made to our lives?

How are they transformed? Well here are 26 Things I have learned from Landmark courses over the last four years which have each made a tangible and measurable difference to my life. 

1. A whole variety of new ways of listening.   I listen better and in different ways.

2. The value of being 'really great' with other people.   I try and remember to be more like this more often and occasionally I am!

3. How the world is created through language.  I create my own world as I speak and am aware of it each time I speak.

4. To complete a number of issues from my past.  I have completed a number of unfinished issues and freed up my future.

5. To understand the importance of 'completion'.  I have helped others complete things for them.

6. An entirely new level of honesty and integrity.  I have cleared up past misdemeanours and set a new standard for my integrity.

7. Not to be attached to results.  I can do anything with total commitment without being in the least concerned about the outcome.

8. How to turn complaints into projects.  I now do this successfully.

9. The difference between events and stories.   I use daily to clarify things.

10. How often we all make others wrong and how to avoid it.  I do it daily and am aware I do it.  I do it less every day.

11. To invent a new possibility every day.   I do this daily and I live out what I invent.

12. To raise my sights on what is achievable.    I have done through trying to get the Forum involved in the Northern Ireland Peace Process and in helping Christchurch Council to aim to become the best in the country.

13. That in practice I can achieve far more than I thought I could.   I have converted Christchurch Council from an enemy to a friend.  I took up skiing again after a five year absence.

14. To let go of my fears - particularly about money.  I have done this.

15. New ways of achieving my objectives.  I have learned new techniques of working from the future backwards which I am putting into practice.

16. That you only exist in the world to the extent you are listened to.  I am aware how important it is to express things in a way people can hear.

17. To be far more self expressive and share myself more.  I am much more outward going than I was and more friendly with friends and strangers.

18. Not to be significant/important.  I am aware of this all the time.

19. How I can recategorise my thinking and make chores exciting.  I have done so - dusting is exciting!

20. How to coach other people more effectively.  I do this with friends and children when necessary and mutually agreed - (and they coach me!)

21. To be present.  I am present far more of the time than I ever used to be.

22. To take more care of my appearance.  I had not realised how I had become neglectful of it and I have now changed that laxity.

23. To allow others to make their own decisions without pressure.  I can offer others opportunities and possibilities and accept their choices without upset or difficulty (which was not how I used to be!)

24. To see that life is empty and meaningless and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless.  I realise that meanings I attach to things are just my meanings and that intrinsically things I used to think were really significant are not.  This has resulted in a less stressed more relaxed life.

25. To focus on actions and results.   I have been far less in my head and more in action in all areas of my life accomplishing much more.

26. To be more loving and understanding.  Our family has become closer and more open with each other.  Things are said constructively and differences settled in a fraction of the time they used to be.  I have reconnected with a number of friends I had lost contact with, some for many years. 

Furthermore in the last four years I have encouraged more than fifty other individuals to attend the Landmark Forum, and 95 per cent of those have returned with much the same result and same reaction as my own.   Indeed in some cases it has totally transformed whole families and their relationships from major problems into positive outcomes.  I know of no other course (and I used to own a training business for 17 years and have run over six hundred courses worldwide) which is as effective. 

Landmark Education’s origins are from Werner Erhard’s Est organisation of the 70’s and 80’s.  However he is no longer involved, although Harry Rosenberg is his younger brother, and his sister too is deeply involved in the organisation.  These days the company is wholly owned by its employees, none of whom has more than two and a half per cent.  They run courses in over a hundred cities around the world in six different languages.   I never did Est and from all I know of it, this is now very different indeed.  Over half a million people worldwide have now completed the Forum and I know of no better way of transforming your life in so short a time. 

It is not religious in any way, it is not a cult, it is extremely practical with very powerful models which you can use in your day to day lives.  People who do the Forum are invariably incredibly enthusiastic about it.   Simply because of the remarkable transformations it produces which you witness on every programme.   It is  particularly effective  for young people. 

My own son struggling to get any kind of degree, determined upon completion of the Forum he would get a First Class honours degree and a year later he did!   I have seen 18 year olds turn their lives around in 3 days and become responsible adults.  

Should you do it?

I have no idea.  But for a remarkably low cost, which includes a full ten week follow up seminar to ensure the messages are taken back into daily life, it is the world’s biggest personal development bargain.  The risks are from my observations absolutely minimal, the possibilities and opportunities literally limitless.    

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Laurie Phillips tells us he is sixty.   A poet, artist, author, ex-psychotherapist, ex-entrepreneur, communications specialist, trainer, ex-sales-marketing-advertising man.  A proud father, a shortly to be
grandfather and pretty good husband.  He's been married thirty five years. He likes playing tennis, bridge, skiing (rarely) and is about to complete a claimed world record of writing 2000 poems in a year.

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Sceptical Responses:

For the Skeptic's dictionary discussion of the Landmark Forum, and links to further allied systems and experiences, click on .  And further experiences both positive and negative may be accessed here: