Transformation in today’s self-help industry is implementing change in one’s personal and/or business life. It generally refers to the exposure of training/education courses along with self-help books that allow people to experience change at a rapid pace. (Note) Explore companies like Landmark Education and books like “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work”, or “First Things First”, etc. The front-runner and source for Landmark was Erhard Seminars. These kinds of transformation education concentrate upon language (i.e. Ontology - who you are being with your vocabulary) and your actions; elevating language and taking personal responsibility for one’s deeds.
Claimed Affect of Transformation
We concur with taking responsible actions and increasing precision with your language. Transformation methods can produce short-term positive effect – we have experienced it first hand ourselves. Each of the ideas and concepts referenced here suggest practice to make it stick or become habit. We concur with practice not habit. From an acolyte’s perspective, an argument for transformation is that it can provide instant affect, much like revelation.
By staying in the “NOW” this will somehow produce moment to moment awareness with deep understanding, sometimes with great intensity and overwhelming power, such that it touches the uninitiated dramatically; usually felt at a internal untapped emotional level. These don’t turn one’s hair white, but may cause a profound inner knowing. This inner knowing will keep you coming back for more. For the normal person this can be very revealing and helpful: other than normal – challenging and anxiety laden.
Impact of Transformation
In addition, the transformation moments provide relief of the great emptiness or unspoken challenge we sometimes face, to be replaced with that missing something, occasionally answering the forever-questioned mysteries “What journey should I be on?”, or “What is my purpose in life?”, and maybe finally “Why can’t I release the life-time resentment toward my parents?”, etc. By the way, indirect claims are made to disappear unresolved challenges completely, only being pointed to upon occurrence in the courses; someone has at least one of these during the course(s). People experience awe witnessing these miraculous shares with their own eyes and can be affected deeply: touched, inspired and moved.
Transformation is made all the more palatable by suggesting some higher purpose too can be gained through the usage of the techniques. This involves declaring how one would make a difference with people, while occasionally thinking large enough to impact the entire world (e.g. historical data suggests that it does happen in some people/groups). Integrity training among others, further ensures and solidifies the highest regard of the student – weighty and principled stuff.
Initiation to Transformation
As an example, Landmark uses an inculcation strategy inviting family members and friends of the active transformation participants (students) to a gathering of like-minded followers (i.e. seekers). This provides an initial exposure to real people and their transformation homilies, which generally produces intrigue or disgust; some exposed comeback to enlist, while others move on to something else in their on-going search.
As expected, all methods suggest enrolling in the course, buy the book, and study with vigorous participation. Somehow, the “NOW” moments require practice to continually occur. Curious – huh?
Transformation can be Helpful, but…
We think that the experience, training and exposure to transformation ideas can be very effective in ones life, but we haven’t noticed any long-term affects. Our witness of the occurrence of transformation appears vital and real, temporarily.
As an example, we recently inquired with an initial group of ten people as a curious follow-up. The group contained participants who had experienced the course(s) months and years before, usually within the past six. Many of these of these had fallen away from their usage of transformation. Three different, intelligent and active professionals in our colleague-circle were asked details about what is working from their years long commitment and active efforts with the transformation self-help education. All but two of the thirteen had stopped using transformation. (Note) The sampling size would make the statistician cringe as scientific study – not intended as such – yet it highlights an important point).
All said that they got real benefits but no longer participated. The fourteenth inquiry made just yesterday (outside the active-circle-of-colleagues) produced in us spontaneous laughter, but only after we left the man. We asked him, “In what kind of education have you been involved?” Answer, “I took the Walking-On-Fire weekend a few years ago”. Question, “What did that do for you?” Answer, “Absolutely nothing!!!”.
We believe this points directly to self-help shelf-life (i.e. after separation from the training/usage, the effectiveness falls away within months, if not days).
Summary of Transformation Characteristics
Based upon our own experiences and that of others we see some interesting, if not, disheartening outcomes. Our summary below points to our findings:
- Rapid change, sometimes miraculous
- Emotional stimulation with high hope
- Quasi-belief initially with strong enthusiasm, desire with limited commitment
- Continued participation, spreading the good news – enlisting others
- Study and practice, lifting language and activities
- Good to excellent results depending upon sustained commitment, usually temporary
- After active participation, loss of effectiveness (within six months)
- Finally, separation and discontinued usage
This is not a compelling enough reason to continue going down this transformation road.
What Does it Mean?
It probably means lots of things. But, we want to know if something is beginning to emerge for you?
Like us, you may be asking “How come it fails?”. We have some answers for you and more questions, but consider this…
For us, a couple of things come to mind immediately.
First, transformation for us is just another word for change.
Second, transformation beckons us because it sounds sophisticated and compelling: it certainly is, isn’t it? The transformers thrill us with their use of uncommon/meaningful language, and we’re told of the years of experience required to attain teaching mastery – it being arduous and fraught with rigorous integrity. What really gets our juices flowing though, is three-fold: 1) the next new thing; 2) the hope of possibility filled with instant impact, and; 3) the holy grail – revelation is available to you, like so many others that have experienced it. Oh yeah…. bring it to us right now!
Since our and many other cultures promote instant (e.g. look at hand-held technology, food, health, wealth, etc), it is not surprising that we would yearn for this. (Note) Consider the reasons and strategy to make distinctions to differentiate transformation and change: perhaps designed to create whole new consulting/education/industries with ripe growth opportunities – maybe? Yet, try this on…
Third, the founders/designers of these transformation offerings are clearly believers in their products. Large groups of people are enrolled in them. But, are the enrollees truly believers? We don’t think so, or their transformation methods employed would survive in the people! Here’s a good question for you to ponder “Do The Self-Help companies have a preponderance of life-time-customers?”. Maybe – so. We know book publishers and book sellers do. Look at the Amazon’s model to see how effective they are – very.
We, think the seekers continue to seek, looking for that one thing that will produce – the answers.
For us, we know what delivers the answers (some of them).
What it Takes to Make it Stick
In our understanding, change will stick if there exists true belief, set by design and made real with practiced connected experience: it is that easy to grasp. No complexity, no sophisticated design, and available to all who do the change (e.g. desire and want are excluded here because a decision doesn’t produce action). True belief is in the heart, mind and soul of the believer. The believer will act on his beliefs. The non-believers are capable of deciding but rarely act.
To summarize, we say that change occurs with belief, belief based choices, and belief based actions. Read this again. Use transformation to your hearts content, but support it with underlying belief and you can experience effective results. You’ll sustain the investment in the education and reap benefits continually.
But what does it take to establish belief? We say both design and experience – they are not mutually exclusive. Look no further than current day newspapers to read of examples of these believers, regardless of the culture or whether the believer does good or evil (e.g. good/evil can be fluid with reverse meanings depending upon which side of the street you stand).
Belief was once a fundamental in committed families, religion, some private and public education institutions, all branches of the US military, firefighters, rescue and emergency teams, to name a few. But who today promotes belief and instills it into us as a design? Look around you to notice where this happens. You may be surprised….
A word on habits – they are repetitions without judgment. That’s it for us. Do again and again coupled with the secret unsaid possibility that change will occur over-time and stick. It usually doesn’t. Of course, we would ask “Is the habit effective?”. Maybe. More importantly we ask “Does your belief support the habit?”. Our experience suggests usually not.
Final Word: Real Self-Help Defined
We expect to affect the model for self-help. We want to arm people with tools that they can use on their own, not requiring continued involvement with us, but reliance upon themselves, their intimate friends, colleagues, teams and the groups they build to support themselves. That’s it.
Sure they can come back once in a while to re-tune, but we want people to be self-sufficient and rely upon themselves and others for support. We understand today, that this involves belief and right choices. We also say the right choices system. We will support you but you must accept personal responsibility for yourself. Quit deciding and do. Build your experience set upon beliefs and you can conquer anything.