J.L Moreno on Werner Erhard

From the book, Impromptu Man,  by Jonathan D. Moreno

“Erhard Seminars Training, known as est, epitomized the Great Crossover. In the 1970’s, as hundreds of troubled hospitalized patients were daily being released for their involuntary commitment in vast institutions, hundreds of “normal people” were voluntarily entering hotel ballrooms in the hope of transforming themselves. The attraction was a handsome and charismatic young man named Werner Erhard, who had undergone his own “transformation.” The word has a nearly technical significance for Erhard, who uses it to refer to his realization that what stood between him and his completeness as a human being was within his control. A critical part of “the training,” as practitioners refer to it, is freeing oneself from the past, accomplished by “experiencing” recurrent patterns and problems rather than repeating them, where “experience” again has a technical significance. To fully experience the pointless repetition of old, burdensome behaviors is to “experience them out.” An early biography of Erhard explains that:

“The Training provides a format in which siege is mounted on the Mind. It is intended to identify and bring under examination presuppositions and entrenched positionality. It aims to press one beyond one’s point of view, at least momentarily, into a perspective from which one observes one’s own positionality… The setting for the training is arduous and intrusive, …In the training ordinary ways to escape confronting one’s experience are- with the agreement of the participants-sealed off in advance. On the concrete level this means limited access to food, water toilets, bed. Alcohol and drugs are forbidden. There is limited movement, there are no clocks or watches by which to tell the time; one may not talk to others; nor may one sit beside friends. Internal crutches and barriers to experience – such as one’s own belief systems – are also challenged by means of philosophical lectures and exercises in imagination.”

Participants might have been surprised how both physically and emotionally challenging and how philosophical the training was…Erhard struck a chord among many, partly because it was simultaneously original and familiar. Erhard brought a uniquely American voice to the themes of the fading human potential movement, and est training was in the American tradition of Great Awakenings and motivational programs. He had a way with pithy, often spontaneous observations about life and living. Evan as the spirit of the 1960s lost steam, there was a powerful lingering desire among many for personal exploration and for more authentic connections to others. In many ways the training was the most important cultural event after the human potential movement itself seemed exhausted, with elements of theater, therapy, and social networking.

Somewhere along the line the clunky term “large group awareness training” had been coined in reference to experiences like est that were on a bigger scale than Lewin’s T-groups, but still aiming at Maslow’s peak experiences. Crucially, est workshops took place on a stage before dozens or even hundreds of people. That was a departure from the usual encounter group size of a dozen or so participants, and further still from the analyst’s couch. Erhard also confronted participants one-on-one, challenging them to be themselves rather than playing some role that had been imposed on them, a form of Socratic interrogation reminiscent of J.L.’s story about mounting the stage to confront the actor in the “legitimate” Vienna theater. Erhard was sensitive to the aspect of theater in the training; his biographer even calls it “a new form of participatory theater,… Like most drams, it has catharsis as one of its aims. Unlike most drama, it also aims to bring the participant to an experience of him or herself which is tantamount to transformation.” In the early years of est Erhard cited psychodrama as one way of “rehabilitating the imagination in the attempt to bring people to their potential.” And he plainly had enormous charisma and self-confidence, qualities that J.L. also didn’t lack. Erhard sold his company in 1991; it survives as Landmark Worldwide and its basic program is called the Landmark Forum. Erhard now travels and lectures on leadership education and integrity. Referring to a book he is completing with a friend, Erhard says that “I’d like to live long enough to get the ideas down.”

From Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network, by Jonathan D. Moreno

Jonathan D. Moreno is an American philosopher and historian who specializes in the intersection of bioethics, culture, science, and national security, and has published seminal works on the history, sociology and politics of biology and medicine.

Influencial Ideas

Werner Erhard’s work has become an important resource for academic institutions and a catalyst for creative thinking and teaching in both the academic and corporate environments throughout the world.  His work has been noted as a key element in current management thinking and the science of productivity, performance and leadership.  As a reflection of his influence throughout the world, the friends of Werner Erhard website has been translated into JapaneseSpanish and Chinese.

A Breakthrough in Individual and Social Transformation

Presentation By Werner Erhard At The Eranos Conference 2006
Ascona, Switzerland
18 June 2006

While I was asked to speak about individual and social transformation, I will start by talking about knowing.

Think of the circle I have drawn here as containing all knowledge. The circle is divided into three sections. The first section of all knowledge is called, “What I know that I know.” We all know what to do with what we know that we know – we put it to use. The next section of all knowledge is called, “What I know that I don’t know.” Again, we all know what to do with what we know that we don’t know – we learn. Finally, there is this vast remaining section of all knowledge called, “What I don’t know that I don’t know.” What to do about what we don’t know that we don’t know is something of a dilemma. And, what we don’t know that we don’t know about human beings is an important question when it comes to individual and social transformation.

I am reminded of a physics paper entitled “Chaos” that I read some years ago about the discovery of the chaotic nature of certain physical phenomena, where a small input could result in a very large scale output, while a large scale input could result in a very small output. As I read the article it occurred to me that chaos theory certainly applied to human beings. For example, with very little said, a person might get massively upset, while years of training have very little impact on some people. Chaos theory was followed by complexity theory where, to oversimplify somewhat, the whole was not merely the sum of the parts, but the sum of the parts plus the interaction between the parts. Again, complexity certainly applies to human beings.

Read the rest of this entry

Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundations of A Great Personal Life, Great Leadership and A Great Organization

“We argue here that the four factors we identify as constituting the foundation for being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership can also be seen as the foundations not only for great leadership, but also for a high quality personal life and an extraordinary organization. One can see this as a “value free” approach to values because, 1) integrity as we define it (being whole and complete) is a purely positive proposition, 2) authenticity is also a purely positive proposition (being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others and who you hold yourself to be for yourself), 3) being committed to something bigger than oneself is also a purely positive proposition (that says nothing about what that commitment should be other than it be bigger than oneself), and 4) being cause in the matter as a declaration of the stand you take for yourself regarding everything in your life is also a purely positive proposition”

Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen

Your power is a function of velocity

Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.

There are two factors worth examining in our impairing velocity, in our disempowering ourselves.

The first is the domain of reasonableness. When we deal with our intentions or act to realize our intentions from reasonableness, we are in the realm of slow, impede and complicate. When we are oriented around the story or the narrative, the explanations, the justifications, we are oriented around that in which there is no velocity, no power.

Results are black and white. In life, one either has results (one’s intentions realized) or one has the reason, story, explanations, and justifications. The person of power does not deal in explanations. This way of being might be termed management by results (not management for results but management by results). The person of power manages him or herself by results and creates a space or mood of results in which to interact with others.

The other factor to be addressed is time. Now never seems to be the right time to act. The right time is always in the future. Usually this appears in the guise of “after I (or we) do so and so, then it will be the right time to act”; or “after so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act”; or “when so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act.” The guise includes “gathering all the facts,” “getting the plan down,” “figuring out ‘X’,” “getting ready,” etc.

Since now is the only time you have in reality and now will never seem to be the right time to act, one may as well act now. Even though “it isn’t the right time,” given that the “right time” will never come, acting now is, at the least, powerful (even if you don’t get to be right). Most people wait for the decisive moment, whereas people of power are decisive in the moment. – Werner Erhard

By Werner Erhard, March 21, 1983

Werner Erhard Interviews Artists and Thinkers

Werner Erhard Interviews Artists and Thinkers

Saturday Satellite Seminar Program

Every era has a relatively small number of original and influential persons, those who generate initiative, discoveries, achievements and insights which shape our own cultures and societies — and often those of future generations. If we know these people well, it is through their works: their campaigns and institutions, their books and inventions, their vaccines, their symphonies, their monuments and their firms.

The Saturday Satellite Series with Werner Erhard was a program designed to give us a new access to such people — a glimpse of the commitments and visions that inform such lives, and that serve as the source of their creations. The series was conducted as a dialogue between Werner Erhard and prominent guest speakers who are widely recognized for their achievements and expertise. These dialogues were designed not to present particular views, but to open an inquiry that elicits creative thinking and productive action from and for all participants.

Each session provided a platform for speakers to generate their own discussion, to share influences and experiences, to pose provocative questions, and to allow participants to share in a candid, dynamic and creative exchange. By way of these dialogues, the Satellite Series offered new perspectives, new insights and new ways of approaching key public issues and concerns.

Broadcast live to thousands of participants throughout the United States, each series focused on a particular theme, exploring key principles and assumptions and leading-edge insights that govern the relevant fields.

Leading public figures being interviewed included Alice Cahana, Robert Reich, Milton Friedman, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milton Friedman, Mike Wallace, Stephen Jay Gould, James Burke, Andrew Tobias, and Senator Daniel Inouye. These interviews are available in their entirety at http://wernererhardvideo.com/

Werner Erhard, host and moderator of the Series, has dedicated his life to transforming people’s experience of what is possible for human beings, and their ability to act on that possibility.

Werner Erhard Information

Werner H. Erhard is an internationally renowned figure of our time. He is the originator of the unique model of transformational learning that has helped shaped human consciousness in the last quarter of the 20th century. One of the great thinkers of the modern era, he has impacted, for decades, the areas of individual and organizational effectiveness throughout the world.

Time Magazine, March 7, 2011, said of Erhard: “The American obsession with Transformation isn’t new. It’s about as old as the nation. But it was Werner Erhard who created the first modern transformation when he founded est seminars in 1971. It’s a tribute to the power of his central concept that more than 20 years after he sold his ideas to a group of employees Landmark is still the natural first stop in any transformation tour.” [Excerpted from “Change We Can (Almost) Believe In” by Nathan Thornburgh.]



Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard es el creador de modelos transformacionales y aplicaciones para la transformación individual, social y de la organización. Sus innovadoras ideas han estimulado conversaciones académicas en muchas universidades, más recientemente en las áreas de integridad, liderazgo y desempeño. Werner Erhard ha disertado en Harvard University, Yale University, Escuela de Negocios Simon de la Universidad de Rochester y Erasmus University. Leer más…



Managing Time

One of the fundamental aspects of unworkability in the world is time. That’s the first lie. That’s the first apparency. That’s the beginning of the end of the truth. Time. You need to master time to have any mastery in the world. People who are at the effect of time, people who can’t create time, people who can’t manage time, people who can’t move time around, people who can’t handle time, people who are overwhelmed by time, have no mastery and no basis for mastery. The basis for mastery in the world is being able to handle time. So what we’re talking about instead of some new problem to handle is an enormous opportunity to create a context in the space, in a sense, and in an environment of workability. And that environment’s generated out of a mastery of time.

If you attempt to take a computer approach to the control, efficacy, workability, results, viability, and getting the job done, what you wind up with is a clear statement that an organization is driven by its scheduling. And you know about computers? When you take a computer approach you have to break things down to the smallest possible, controllable variable. Computers are absolutely stupid. They have to reduce things to absolute know-ability. There are no black boxes. You’ve got to know what’s happening. So a computer approach forces you to tell the truth; to look at what’s actually happening. You’ve got to get all your attitudes out of the way and all of your leaps of faith and all of your beliefs and all of the things you thought were true and all of the things that everybody knows are true and start dealing with the basic, raw, hard, little facts. Then you have to see the basic, stupid, simple way that those facts relate to each other. In other words, you’ve got to get clear about it.

Now what we’ve got is a bunch of people trying to be geniuses about something that doesn’t require any genius. We’ve been wasting people’s genius on stuff that could get handled by discipline and work. If you’ve got any genius, you aren’t ever going to get to use it unless you can discipline yourself and work. You know, work.

Work, it’s when you sit down or stand up and go to work. You literally confront things and handle things. You start at the beginning and you work your way through step-by-step until you get to the end. That’s what work is. You start at the beginning and you work step by step until you get to the end. And you don’t skip steps, you don’t explain steps way, and you don’t look in your head to find out what’s so about steps. You start at the beginning, you take every one of the steps between the beginning and end, and you stick at it. You put your nose against the grindstone with respect to it, you stick at it, work on it until you get to the end. You handle each one of the steps. You don’t leave any one out. You don’t jump over any one. That’s how you do work. You do work by being systematic and methodical. And people who can discipline themselves to be systematic and methodical have enough of themselves left over to express and contribute and use their genius.

See, it’s like people are real confused about what’s going on. All these things to do and there’s all this work to be done. All these results to get accomplished and all these people here and all this stuff and all these plans and all these words and “Gee, I don’t …” …. JUST GO TO WORK! Everything will clear up. Start disciplining yourself. Start keeping your agreements. Discipline yourself to keep your agreements and you go back to where you work, sit down and go to work. That means start at the beginning, cover all the steps between the beginning and the end, do it completely, don’t mess around in your head about it. Go to it, step by step, systematically, until you get to the end. You will have then performed work. Which results in productivity. Any small amount of which will leave some room for a contribution. Without which there is no room for contribution. Real simple. Get out of your head. Cut out all that explanation about the difficulty. And your complaints and criticisms and what we need and what we don’t need. What we need right now is for people to go to work.


From an est Staff Meeting on June 10, 1980

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