I think that the biggest thing I got out of the Landmark Forum was the real power of acknowledgment and acknowledging people. It might seem pretty obvious that acknowledging people is important and worthwhile, but I think our culture has a limited view of acknowledgment that prevents most people from having it be as difference-making as it could be.
I just saw an incredible video which illustrates this principle perfectly. It’s not directly about Landmark Education or the Forum, but it could have been. If you don’t want to read all my philosophizin’ then just watch the video below:
Mostly, how we view acknowledgment is that we judge people on how effective they are at something, or how much they helped us, and if they are really effective or did a really good job helping us, then we acknowledge them. If we give more acknowledgment than that, then either our acknowledgment is cheap, or worse, phony. Have you ever notice that it means more to you when you get an acknowledgment from someone who rarely gives it than when we get one from someone who acknowledges or thanks everybody?
In fact, I would say that we seek acknowledgment from those least likely to give it, because to get that particular acknowledgment would indicate that we had been truly successful in something. In this way of looking at it, acknowledgment is basically a positive evaluation of someone’s performance – a judgment on how they did.
In this paradigm of acknowledgment, someone who does a consistently average job at something will never get acknowledged. And if we see someone who consistently gives out acknowledgment without any evidence of extraordinary performance, we actually become contemptuous of the acknowledger – it’s like when we’re children in school and there’s a big race and afterwards every child is given a medal, even those who came in last, because we don’t want anyone to feel bad that they didn’t win. In this model of acknowledgment as performance evaluator, freely given acknowledgment reeks of condescension or rewarding mediocrity.
But there’s a different way of looking at acknowledgment – viewing it as an act of creation rather than an act of evaluation? What if you acknowledge people in such a way that it actually has them be bigger, happier people just out of getting the acknowledgment? What if you acknowledge people without worrying whether the acknowledgment is “true” in most people’s eyes? Inside the model of acknowledgment = evaluation, this is positive thinking, namby pamby self-esteem boosting at its worst, having people feel better rather than confront reality.
But in the acknowledgment = creation way of looking at things, having the lots of evidence for your acknowledgment isn’t the most important thing. What’s important is the actual impact your acknowledgment has on people. What’s important is that people actually step into being who you acknowledge them as, not from a phony, inflated sense of self-worth, but as a fully authentic, honest expression of who they are. If this doesn’t make sense, watch the video above. I can attest to the miraculous difference acknowledging people as a creation can make – it can heal wounds, create joy and love where it wasn’t there before and actually make the kind of positive difference with people that we all desire to make.
Acknowledgment = creation is something I took from the Landmark Forum, not as a concept that was taught, but as something I realized was true for myself. Enough said, watch the video!