Werner Erhard and The est Training

Werner Erhard and The est Training

The est Training was presented throughout the world between1971 and 1984. In this clip Werner Erhard and The est Training are featured in various media segments narrated by Joel Daly, with Dinah Shore, Cloris Leachman, Amanda Arnold, Ellie Dylan, from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

 

The Heart of The Matter

The subject of this is transformation – a deep, profound and committed choice about the way we live our lives. Transformation is the possibility for a breakthrough in our living, a clearing for aliveness to show up in our everyday activities, self-expression and commitments.

Talking about transformation is no more than a representation, an image of the real thing. It’s like eating the menu instead of the steak – neither nurturing nor profound. It is in being transformed – in being authentically true to oneself – that one lives passionately free, unencumbered, fearless, committed. It is in living life in a transformed way that the steak and its sizzle show up.

We invite you to be here this evening for the actual benefits of transformation, for the meal – not the menu. Thank you for being here. Thank you for participating.

THREE KINDS OF TALKING

Our language, the way we speak, shows up in three different ways.

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Being Well

by Werner Erhard, Victor Gioscia, and Ken Anbender

Chapter 5 of the book, BEYOND HEALTH AND NORMALITY: Explorations of Exceptional Psychological Well-Being, edited by Roger Walsh, M.B., Ph.D. and Deane H. Shapiro, Jr. Ph.D., published 1983

INTRODUCTION

Our intention in the following essay is to offer the reader an opportunity to reflect on an issue which is central in our time—the search for a new paradigm—a profound new definition of human well being.

Since we regard the reader’s reflection as a sufficient resource to arrive at a satisfying conclusion, we shall not ourselves attempt to define—or redefine—human illness or wellness; nor shall we present a new paradigm from which an intelligent definition of well being might reasonably be deduced.

We will elucidate paradigms in general and paradigms of well being in particular. Also, since the issue of paradigms old and new, as well as the transitions between them, is currently receiving much careful attention, we shall focus on the issue of paradigm shifts and some of the problems that arise during times of paradigm shifts.

The reader is asked to suspend defining well being until after we have more completely examined the nature of paradigms, paradigm shifts, and their relation to the issue of human freedom.

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Werner Erhard Scene Magazine 1982

The atmosphere of Werner Erhard’s office in the elegantly restored Victorian on Franklin Street is one of quiet, old-world charm; the decor is massive and comfortable. Like the man, it is powerful and has an air of efficiency.

Erhard is a highly intelligent, communicative man who is intensely charismatic. There is about him a sense of ease, grace and elegance. Basically a shy man who would like to spend his days sailing, he has instead become the center of est, an organization dealing with individual and social transformation. He is to this day highly controversial. Mention his name in public and you will generate responses ranging from pure love and adoration to hate. He has often been accused of being an opportunist. Those who know him say if he is, it stems from a genuine concern about the current state of humanity. They also say he has softened over the years, grown more compassionate and developed a kind of dignity that is inspiring to others.

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The Mind’s Dedication To Survival

From The Journal of Individual Psychology
Volume 31, Number 1, May, 1975

WERNER ERHARD, Erhard Seminars Training, San Francisco

GILBERT GUERIN AND ROBERT SHAW, University of California, Berkeley

The purpose of this report is to discuss some observations and conclusions relative to the mind’s dedication to survival, a central theoretical concept in the EST training. Terminology will be common to that used in Western philosophy and Eastern thought, free from any special jargon and therefore in keeping with the style of an Adlerian journal.

EXPERIENCE

It is useful, at least for the purpose of description, to separate what are commonly described as mental activities into two groups of activities (one mental and one only apparently mental) which are dominant features in man’s existence. There are first, automatic, stimulus-response activities which come from the “mind” of the individual. The second group of activities are more purposeful and creative, and issue from the “being” or the source of an individual. An individual’s sense of satisfaction, aliveness and sufficiency results chiefly from his recognition that he is the source of himself. In other words, his well-being is linked to his awareness of himself as a “being” rather than as a “mind.”

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In Training, Free Choice is the Key

THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
Wednesday, October 11, 1989

Jobs, a healthy economy and an improving quality of life are high priorities for Americans in the 90’s. Our ability to achieve these goals will depend in no small measure on an effective response by American businesses to tough new challenges – a shrinking work force, rapid technological advances, rising global competition and a cultural diversity in our work force unlike any we’ve seen in the past.

These challenges have already placed unfamiliar and critical demands on employers and employees alike. Already, we face a growing need to develop entry-level skills among workers from an ever greater range of educational backgrounds, ethnic traditions and abilities. As technologies change, we also need to retrain and re-educate even skilled and experienced workers to enable them to keep pace with new methods and new demands. Businesses that flourish and excel in the years ahead will be those that recognize employees as one of the key variables in building a competitive edge. Most businesses have policies and programs to promote the training of employees; and most employees view such training as a pathway to advancement and success. Yet, the notion that advancement depends on training has, in many cases, helped foster a climate of grudging acceptance among the very employees who have most at stake.

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Interview With Werner Erhard

“What is is and what isn’t isn’t,” An Interview by John Johns, 1976

Sixteen years ago there was no Werner Erhard. Five years ago there was no est. Today Werner Erhard and est (Erhard Seminars Training) are truly an American phenomenon, a thriving success in the fertile garden of modern pop psychology.

Werner Hans Erhard was born Jack Rosenberg 40 years ago in Philadelphia. He married his high school sweetheart and, in true story-book fashion, proceeded to raise a family of four children. But in 1960 the story took an abrupt turn—Jack Rosenberg ran away with Ellen, who is now his second wife. With characteristic candor, Werner admits that he took off “to avoid the responsibilities I had.” (He has since become very close to his first family, while also raising three children in his second marriage.)

It was in St. Louis that Jack Rosenberg became Werner Erhard, borrowing from Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Prize winning physicist, and former West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard. From St. Louis, Erhard made his way to California, where he worked for a correspondence school. Not long afterward he went to Spokane and a job managing a sales office for Britannica’s Great Books series.

In 1963 Werner took a job with the Parents Cultural Institute, a subsidiary of Parents Magazine, which published and sold encyclopedias. Within three years he had become vice-president. having excelled as a sales manager. He remained there for six years.

Werner’s next position was with the Grolier Society, Inc. Their business was also encyclopedias, and again Werner demonstrated remarkable organizational and motivational skills in sales.

While he was sharpening his management skills, however, Erhard also embarked on a spiritual quest that took him through Zen, yoga, Scientology, Mind Dynamics, Gestalt and numerous psychic layovers along the way. Then, driving the freeway one day, Werner Erhard “got it”—the experience that transformed his life and led him to the formation of est (also Latin for “it is”). His message: “What is, is. And what ain’t. ain’t.”

In the 4 1/2 years that the San Francisco-based est has flourished, it has doubled in size each year. A paid staff of 230 and a rotating volunteer corps of 6000 to 7000 est graduates currently power est offices in 12 cities.  There are now more than 70,000 mostly middle-class graduates (this is no fringe hippie movement) who pay $250 to “get it” from the demanding 60-hour, two-weekend course. Last year revenues were more than $9 million, and 12,000 people are on the waiting list, anxious to swell the ranks of enthusiastic est graduates.

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Werner Erhard and James Fadiman

From The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1977, Vol.9, No. J, February 1, 1977, San Francisco, California

This is an edited transcript of a discussion in an informal meeting of a few members of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, several Journal editors, and friends.

Werner Erhard was the founder and primary spokesman for Erhard Seminars Training (est), James Fadiman is a lecturer, author, a past president of the Association, and an associate editor with the Journal. After opening remarks by Frances Vaughan Clark, president of the Association, the following discussion took place with occasional audience participation (Audience Member).

James Fadiman: One thing I’m not sure of is whether you and I agree on the role of the self, or the personality. That may be because I’m so interested in “devaluing” personality. I am more and more using the term “personal drama” rather than personality so that even “getting off one’s position” to use an est term, isn’t getting off enough since one is still attached to getting off one’s position. This seems to be more a transpersonal value than perhaps you would accept.

Werner Erhard: No, I’d be wholly aligned with what you just said. I’ll tell you where I think the difference might lie though, and that is perhaps in the path. What one does with personality is not avoid it, or ignore it, or suppress it, or shove it out of the way, but take responsibility for it, complete one’s relationship with one’s personality, transcend it, and therefore include it as a content in the context which one is when one transcends one’s personality. So, rather than to do away with the personality (and I’m not sure that transpersonal psychology would do away with personality) I want to make it clear that est would not do away with the personality. One would be responsible for it, cause it, instead of be the effect of it. Essentially one would complete one’s personality as a way of being unattached to it.

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From Industry Week,  June 15, 1987

By Perry Pascarella

Werner Erhard has developed an organization to help managers create breakthroughs in performance. Is he establishing just another fad? Or will he help create the magnitude of change that many organizations desperately need? Sample his line of thinking and see what you think.

The net looks only one foot high. The service court seems as large as an airfield – I can’t miss it. My racket swings over and “through” the ball to drive a serve that pulls my opponent wide to his forehand side and I strike again in no time to smash his return out the open back corner. A great feeling!

I try to remember the action—reconstruct, analyze, and explain it. But I know that won’t ensure I’ll repeat it. And then there are times when that opposite court looks tiny, the net looms ten feet high, and the ball is a pea traveling at Mach 1.

The court, the net, and the ball are all real. Yet the way they occur for me changes dramatically from a good day to a bad day. While reality doesn’t change, the way it occurs for me does. Could I control that shift in my experience so I could consistently play well? Could I really make that shift happen?

We try to improve our performance by analyzing and evaluating action, producing a prescription for what should be done, and then training ourselves to do a little better. But if we want a dramatic breakthrough in performance, it seems we need a totally different approach.

In his work to develop an approach to performance that will predictably produce breakthroughs, Werner Erhard says, “If you seriously examine any action, you find there are always two sides of it: the side from which you can explain it and the side from which you can produce it. After a recent two-day rise in the stock market, for example, I read an article that masterfully described that rise, analyzed it, and explained it. However, even though I now fully understand what happened, I am not going to bet my life savings on my ability to predict the next one.

“In individual and organizational performance, most of us attempt to produce action by working in the after-the-fact realm of description, analysis, explanation, and prescription. Rarely do we consider that producing an action requires a whole different way of looking at it. If you want to have a dramatic impact on performance, you need access to the source of action.”

A spectator can describe what I’m doing on the tennis court. He is living in the realm of evaluation and explanation – but I’m playing in the world of action. While there is a relationship between his description and what is occurring on the court, the two are clearly not the same.

We seldom think about this sort of distinction, but “failing to make this simple distinction can lead to being satisfied with an explanation about action and may hide from our view the source of action,” says Werner Erhard.

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Paradigm Thinking and Productivity

From the Fall 1989 issue of Benchmark Magazine, a publication of Xerox Corporation

PARADIGM THINKING, properly applied leads to tangible results. JMW Consultants. A New York based management consulting consulting firm, helps companies boost productivity through paradigm shifts with an approach called “Productivity Breakthrough Technology.”

Three years ago, a major computer manufacturer called in JMW to help deal with a crisis.

The manufacturer was trying to get an important product out in order to take advantage of a rapidly closing marketing window. If the team of software developers responsible for the project continued the development process at their current rate – a rate that was in line with industry standards – the product would not be ready on time. If the company hired more programmers to speed up the process, they would exceed their budget. Clearly, a breakthrough was needed.

After working with JMW, the software team began to double their previous productivity. The breakthrough enabled the company to get the product out in time – and save more than $100 million over the next three years.

JMW did not teach the team new techniques for developing software. Instead they helped them shift their paradigm. In their old paradigm, the rule was “X (the predictable) amount of work in X amount of time.” The new paradigm was stated as a possibility – “Y (the required) amount of work in X amount of time.”

“The shift was to create a future – the one they needed – as a possibility, not as a prediction,” says Werner Erhard, who founded a national affiliation of management consultants with which JMW is associated. “At that point, no one knew how to do it, but they could still create the possibility.

Because there was now a new paradigm in which to see the work, the team began seeing the job of developing software differently. They then were able to generate a commitment to that possibility.”

Erhard points out that when a breakthrough is needed, what is often called for is the development of a new paradigm.

“Changing the paradigm does not negate the need for realistic, hard-headed thinking, ” he says. “In ‘business as usual’ we get clear about the situation to determine what we can do and what we can’t.

But to produce a breakthrough, you have to stand the usual approach on its head.”

The process begins with inventing a new possibility, without regard to whether you know what to do to realize it. You then look back at the situation from the standpoint of that new possibility.

“That is what gives you the new perspective and what allows you to see the situation in a way you haven’t seen it before,” says Erhard. “That is the beginnings of generating a new paradigm.” At some point in the process, he says, it will be evident that you have come up with the best paradigm for a breakthrough in that situation.

“Productivity breakthroughs are a product of seeing something in a new way, which enables you to see new opportunities and new openings for action that you couldn’t see before,” he adds. “Breakthroughs come as a result of shifting your commitment from the predictable future to a possible future.”

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