It has been about four months since I attended the third Conscious Growth Workshop (CGW) in Las Vegas. I completed my first review 1.5 months after the workshop and I completed the second review three months after the workshop. I was not ready to write my third review until now–four months after CGW 3. At each workshop I have taken on greater challenges and the results have taken longer to unfold after completing the workshop.
My goal here is to paint a picture of what short, medium and long range change looks like and how you can use a CGW to accelerate your growth. It is easier to see progress over time but I am now getting better at predicting future success that has not yet manifested. Steve Pavlina has announced that CGW 5 will likely be the last, so I would strongly encourage you to consider attending this workshop if you want to accelerate your growth. Sometimes I get asked the following questions:
- The trip to Vegas and the workshop is a lot of money for me, why should I go?
- What did you get out of it?
- I already attended one CGW; will I get something different out of attending another one?
This review answers these questions by providing some of the specifics of the experiences you get with the workshop, however I spend more time illustrating what happens after you go home. Indeed the CGW/Vegas experience is a complete blast in itself, but most growth oriented people wisely evaluate workshops based on the potential for lasting effects. True personal growth demands staying in motion and doing your part when you go home. One of the greatest strengths of CGW is that when you go home you will have several new friends and they help keep the experience alive for you. You can read more about the CGW content and activities and Vegas travel advice in my reviews of CGW 1 and CGW 2. These reviews also contain a description of my progress after each workshop which is material that this review builds upon.
The Benefit of Attending Multiple Workshops: The Moving Eye Illusion
I had a solid foundation in the principles and the life areas from Steve’s book and from the first workshop. He made changes to each of the workshops which kept it fun and interesting for repeat attendees however I approached each of the workshops with the intention of getting something out of them regardless of what Steve did. The content whether the same or modified was directly relevant because I experienced it from the vantage point of my current situation. The workshop experience is like one of those paintings in which regardless of where you are standing, the eyes seem to be staring back at you. Even if Steve had not made any changes to the content or exercises and all the same people attended each workshop, I would have still experienced each differently.
Value Added Resources
Starting with CGW 3, Steve provided free resources ahead of time to anyone who registered for a workshop. These resources were geared towards leveraging the value of the CGW experience to attendees as well as being useful in their own right.
Accelerate Your Growth Podcast (88 minutes)
Steve describes how to use the principles to see where you are out of alignment and how to use them as a tool to get in alignment and improve all parts of your life. Steve provided a summary of the three principles (truth, love, and power) on a high level and illustrated how they applied to four life areas.
If you turn your back on truth, you are turning your back on reality. You need to perceive your reality accurately and be able to make predictions on what will happen next based on your past and current reality. In the podcast, Steve asks questions that are specific enough both to give CGWers a taste of what to expect to work on during the exercises and to get attendees thinking about specific areas in detail before the workshop. I found the podcast to be very motivating. Love is connecting with what you want and being in love with your life. Steve asks probing questions about your environment and your social connections. He hits important points that are all so common to overlook such as letting go of negative relationships–even family members. Steve ties in the material to what you can expect to experience at CGW. Power is your ability to create and change your life. You increase your muscle in any area by finding the sweet spot between giving yourself enough of a challenge but not making it too easy.
The questions are so direct! For example–look at your belly. How do you feel about it? Do you leave broken stuff and clutter lying around? When your mother calls and criticizes all your choices do you tolerate that?
Steve gives personal examples about what he struggles with when talking about personal habits and taking a look at the past 90 days and projecting forward. I could relate to Steve’s story about reflecting back on the past three months and having a plate that is too full. He also shares about his weak areas one of which is patience. Steve observes that most people get over aggressive when they first start to make changes.
Want to get better financial results? Hang around people who are making more money than you. Environment is stronger than willpower! Steve talks in depth about pitfalls such as how allowing people to disrespect you creates a negative social environment. The material from the podcast really resonates with me–particularly in the area of relationships where I am making the very types of changes he describes in the podcast. I felt that getting some of the detailed and probing questions out of the way in the podcast freed Steve up to do less talking before the exercises at CGW and gave attendees the advantage of evaluating each of the areas of their lives before the workshop.
How to Make Workshops, Seminars, and Conferences Pay for Themselves
Many people who attend CGW are seeking a change in career and are looking for networking and other opportunities. This is a detailed guide on how to leverage your attendance at events of which CGW is a great example. Steve provides personal examples of how he turned events into profitable ventures by creating “win-win” connections. He describes methods for trading and creating value with others. This guide includes specific information on how to network effectively. For example Steve recommends that you be curious about the other people at the event and ask questions as opposed to talking about yourself. He also encourages attendees to look at events as a place to find mentors and colleagues with whom to form a Mastermind group. At the six month point of being jobless, I find this guide to be a valuable reminder of untapped resources. I am happy to say that I have practiced many of the methods described in the guide. For example, I co-created the guide described below in exchange for a pass to CGW 3!
Conscious Growth Workshop User Guide
This guide was written by Matty Blumenthal, Alex Wu and Sonya Sidky (me) with some guidance from Steve. We drew upon our collective experiences from the first two workshops and the post workshop networking activities to create this guide to help other attendees maximize their workshop, Las Vegas, and networking experiences. The guide comprehensively addresses making travel plans, what to do before, during and after the workshop, and how to eat a special diet while in Las Vegas. We included information on what benefits you could expect to receive by fully participating in the workshop. Although much of the guide is provided in a single voice, we each provided a listing of our accomplishments since the first CGW–which for all three of us included quitting our jobs! We also provide our specific view point for various topics covered in the guide. For example, in the section on creating clear goals, Alex and I each describe how we prepare to work on specific goals before CGW. Matty, Alex, and I each provided examples of our favorite extracurricular activities in Vegas. The guide is not only a tool to maximize the work of CGW but to encompass the entire social and travel aspect of being with other attendees and seeing the sites of Vegas. One of our key recommendations: “Don’t hold back. Take risks while you are at the workshop. Now is the time to embrace new experiences and experiment with a more empowering identity”.
Summary of CGW 3
Day 1 was very different from day 1 of the previous workshops. Steve shared more stories and emphasized content less. Certain concepts were not brought until later in the day–such as planet A and planet B.
There were way more group activities and demonstrations. I thought that it was a clever use of time to strip out some of the content from day one and include it in his 88 minute podcast instead. This approach certainly rewards participants who did there homework ahead of time to get the mental download on the content!
He also changed some of the terminology in one of the models he first presented in CGW 2. Previously he discussed how you interact with your environment and your own achievement in terms of being a helper, neutral, martyr, or criminal. In CGW 3 he referred to the positive action as being a contributor as opposed to being a helper. I enjoyed this reference the term contributor makes it really clear that there is a net positive effect. It is a nice tie in to Marshall Rosenberg’s work on nonviolent communication in which he describes the mindset of being a contribution to others and to the world.
While day 1 was entertaining and geared towards experiential learning, days 2 and 3 were slated for hard core life application. We were warned in advance that there would be serious introspection and time to do the exercises on these days and that those of us who had attended the workshop before could expect to contend with much thicker packets. Steve also let us know that we would start slow in the morning of day 2 when discussing career and finances and then double the pace since we should get it down by then. He intended to hit the sweet spot between not being overwhelmed and not being bored. To Steve’s credit–he made a drastic change to the pace of day 3 when he realized that for the crowd he had (we were a fast bunch!) the pace was too slow. Steve decided to condense the day 3 exercises into just the morning and then introduce a totally new activity in the afternoon.
Somehow for me–his approach for CGW reminded me of the repetition that was present in CGW 1. From the perspective of integrating the concepts with the written exercises, the approach that Steve took during CGW 2 worked the best for me.
During CGW 3 he described more concretely how to begin to take action in our lives. It reminds me of the concept of taking next action steps as described in the Michael Linenberger’s book Master Your Workday Now, which is one of Steve’s recommended products.
The afternoon exercise on the last day was one that Steve had designed in consultation with Rachelle only the night before. We had the extra time because we were such a fast bunch that we got all our written exercises completed in the morning. We were asked to count off and form into small groups that were given a limited amount of time to create a skit that illustrated the principles that we worked on during the workshop. The groups were fairly large, maybe 10 people. I did not enjoy putting together the skit although this type of activity would generally be one that I enjoy. At the time, I did not feel like I got much out of the exercise. In the weeks and months following the workshop the importance of what I experienced during the exercise really sunk in. I remember making snap judgements about the type of people I like working with and those that I did not. There really was no neutral although there were definitely varying degrees of how much I did not want to work with certain types of people. All were perfectly nice people, but it was obvious as we were directed to work to complete a project together in a short amount of time with a group that was randomly put together that I would not like working with some of them. This showed me how much I grew with making quick judgements. Being in the workplace were you have much less choice over who you work with weakened my muscle of discernment. There was less incentive to make this distinction because there was less choice on what to do about it if it was not working out.I am in the Finals of Ultimate Rock-Paper-Scissors! Photo Credit: Stephan van Coppenole When we win, everyone celebrates with us! Photo Credit: Stephan van Coppenole
Beyond CGW 3
I made the glaringly observable changes to my before CGW 3. Case in point, I quit my job. Much of what I have achieved since CGW 3 is also very observable if you were in close contact with me or if you were an alien sent from Jupiter to spy on me.
Biggest Area of Growth: Relationships
Sure I have externally observable accomplishments such as much more material on each of my websites, but the area I have grown the most is relationships. A couple friends, not prompted by me shared that I was more independent, confident and transparent and clear in the way I communicate. Others have found the change in me more disconcerting because I cannot be easily manipulated and thus when I made my boundaries clear, they have chosen to disconnect from me. I have a easier time allowing other people to make their own choices and communicating clearly how I will respond.
I feel that this is the result of having established a clean slate to connect to what I want. What I do on a daily basis is aligned with my life purpose. This is true about my career and social connections. Before CGW 3, I was experiencing friction between being aligned with my purpose and maintaining the old way of relating to people. I now see that CGW 3 gave me a bit of a shove onto the trajectory of getting my relationships in alignment. I experienced both positive and negative business relationships associated with my CGW 3 barters that got me started along this path. It was a pleasure to work on the users guide with Alex and Matty for example. I have also engaged in other successful joint ventures and trading of services. There is something very empowering about picking your own coworkers! In cases where it has not worked out with someone business wise, it is easier to sever the ties. No trips to HR!
Overall my learning curve in the area of relationships has accelerated. I am more discerning than I was even a few months ago. There is less of a gap in the time when I first feel like something is bothering me and when I take serious action to remedy the situation. Before I would get caught up in analysis paralysis and held a limiting belief that I owed it to the other person to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Having relationships in alignment is a prerequisite to success. In one of the exercises on the first day of CGW 3, Steve asked Alex to come up and juggle some balls. Steve looked like he fully enjoyed what he did next. He maneuvered himself to interfere with what Alex was doing. He towered over Alex and got kind of grabby with him! How can you juggle your tasks when you have people working against you? If you think you can, just cement the image of Alex trying to juggle while Steve made it his mission to get in the way!
Although my growth in the area of relationships exceeded my expectations since CGW 3, I feel like I am only in the middle of fast trajectory of growth. I am moving out what Marshall Rosenberg call the “obnoxious phase” where I am setting healthy boundaries even though some people who deal with may feel the sharp edges. I am revisiting nonviolent communication at a new level. My most challenging area right now is not with close relationships but rather with communicating my needs to keep on top of everyday business and administrative transactions that often go awry. In the large scheme of things I have a deep understanding of why I was sticking my head in the sand when it came to dealing with some of the administrative burdens that I described as issues when I was on stage during CGW 2. I wanted Steve’s coaching in the area of daily habits and routine because I felt like I was a martyr to my routine and a slave to my daily habits. Part of my challenge was that I was avoiding certain administrative tasks that have the potential of a big financial payout if I handle them correctly. I feel that the recent growth in the area of relationships has prepared me to be a more powerful self-advocate.
Relationship to Self: “Steady as she goes Mr. Sulu!”
It only makes sense that as my relationships to others has improved, so has my relationship with self. I can tell that my Master/Servant relationship has grown closer. Although Master and Servant are still working out their differences–they have drawn closer together when reacting to external challenges and temptations. For example when the road to planet B was challenged with some evidence of possible failure, my old Master would crack the whip and beat the crap out of my old Servant and my old Servant would comply for about two seconds and then give up. Now when some evidence of possible failure occurs, I fully process my feelings about the situation, neither my Master nor my Servant goes into a state of panic and I am able to sit with the discomfort that I may not have an assurance that things will go my way. It is at that point of acceptance that I get a flash of insight that I now recognize is assistance from my guides that gives me the information I need to move forward effectively. After I get one of these downloads I feel a marked raise in my vibration and I spring into action while the inspiration is with me. Somehow my Master and Servant have grown to learn that inspiration is short-lived in it behooves them to cooperate with each other and act quickly. The action comes easily at this point–it is not fear-based nor do I do things at a frantic pace but there is a sense of urgency to act on what I know I need to do. My Master is firm but kind and shows good leadership by projecting a steady energy and my servant happily complies. What if Captain Kirk freaked out every time the enterprise was threatened by an invader? Would Scottie and Mr. Sulu guide the ship with the level of expertise it takes to continue to “go where no man has gone before?” I think not!
My improved relationship with self has allowed me to address my biggest concern about quitting my job which as I stated to Steve at CGW 2 was my daily habits and routine. This was hard for me to see and acknowledge at first because I had this image of more quickly resolving certain projects that were occupying some of my mental energy. But when I look at what I am doing on a daily basis six months after I quit my job versus when I first quit my job, there is no question that I am operating more efficiently now and I experience being in the flow of things more frequently. I am absolutely elated that I am experiencing a closer link between inspiration and perspiration.
The Courage to Build a New Structure
Staying in my job would have been the easier thing to do. I realized that it would take time to start making a decent income again. I am not going to pretend to be happy with the results there. Considering my own observation and that of trusted friends, I could have done better. That said, I do have some tangible accomplishments in the productivity arena. I recently realized that although my daily routine and habits are still an area that I would like to improve, I am now working more efficiently than I was when I had a job. Yes this is a big deal! When I first quit my job, I experienced a loss in productivity very much like I experienced a loss in income. The job provides you with more structure than a regular paycheck and benefits. The truth is that when I was faced with uncertainty about what the best action for me to take was, I flailed around quite a bit. It was like taking a dive off the deep end and regaining my composure before swimming in stride. I have only recently reached the point where I am effectively providing myself with structure, meaningful work and metrics to the point where I can confidently say that I now work more effectively and on more important endeavors than I did when I had the job. This is definitely a case of two steps backwards, three steps forward. I am confident the tangible progress in what I produce and how it contributes to others will lead me to take right action to take care of the income part. I can’t say that is not without it’s successes in that I have bartered thousands of dollars worth of my services for services that I needed.
It took a while but I developed my own structure that serves me better. For example, I figured out how to define the end of a work day. My decision-making muscle got a workout! After much frustration and effort to get there, I now trust my own judgement. I know what to do to succeed and now I just need to get out of my way and do it!
Along with courageously facing my daily habits I have exercised courage in making decisions that are based on logic and abundance and am dealing with my household and finances more proactively. At the same time I am have experienced a huge drop in income I have been careful not to let that drive me to cut corners. I recently spent $14,000 on a new roof for my house and am making other improvements that cost money such as installing water efficient toilets.
When I realized that procrastinating in this area was occupying much space mentally, I decided to make it a priority. I will continue to hold this area as a priority until I start to experience diminishing returns. When I first quit my job, I wanted to spend a week or two getting myself organized and dealing with administrative stuff to get it out of the way. I was too swayed by the belief or expectation from others (real or imagined) that I should hit the ground running with my business. That, along with distractions in my personal life caused me to vacillate between many different things and not take strong action in any direction. Now I really feel what it means to exert self-leadership and go with my gut even if it leads to me taking action that nobody including people I consider to be mentors would recommend.
Deeper Appreciation of my Strengths
It is only when you take courageous action that you get to see what you are really made of and discover your strengths. I have always been a resilient and optimistic person and even through facing uncertainty about my future I consistently was able to maintain a high vibration state and raise it when it did tumble a bit. I took an area that I am naturally strong in and made myself even stronger. Now there is solid evidence that other people are benefiting from my strength. I am able to help people in person and through my website and I have relished in the evidence that I am making a difference. Some things that were very hard for me a couple of years ago are child’s play now. For example I was able to write an article on overcoming rumination based on my experience and my ability to explain to others how to do it in a manner that really incites action. I also have the gift of vision. This helps me reflect back to my friends who also quit their jobs, their positive path if they stay the course. Some people who are failing delude themselves into believing they are succeeding. But the opposite is also true and sometimes less obvious. For example, I feel that my good friend Alex is succeeding but he sometimes acts like he is failing. I help raise his vibration and remind him about the big picture.
I benefit from his strength as well. A huge part of my growth in the area of relationships has to do with being more discerning and trusting my judgements. Alex models this way of relating to others very well and it has rubbed off on me! While I bring vision and optimism to the table, Alex is big on taking action and being in motion. Together we can maintain vision and optimism as well as action! Isn’t it great to have friends with different strengths than you?Alex getting philosophical at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Reintegrating of the “old” from an empowered perspective
Lately I have had the desire to revisit aspects of my past self and reintegrate parts that worked for me. I am able to go into situations that I enjoyed in the past and experience the healthy part without the unhealthy part due to my added strength as a leader. This has been wonderful because it allows me to connect with people and activities that I pulled away from to establish as stronger sense of alignment. It is as if I left planet A for long enough that the disempowering parts of it no longer has a strong grip and I am now able to take trips back to pick up healthy parts that I can appreciate from a new perspective. Some of what was left on planet A was simply a result of realigning my priorities to engage in activities that had the thrust to get me to planet B.
This retro-theme even extends to some of the self-improvement strategies that have worked for me in the past. For example I have an Attacking Anxiety program that I really liked and now I listen to the tapes in a very different way. I don’t need them for reassurance or comfort, but rather I use them as a check to see how well I am applying the basic life skills in any given area. I am also revisiting topics on Steve’s website and checking myself on how I am doing in areas such as productivity. I have come full circle with some of Steve’s material–I first found his blog by doing a search on “self-discipline” and this is the material I am drawn to again. It is like going to the same gym after being gone for a while and being able to use the available resources on a new level. Much of what I am reintegrating is showing up in the content of my blog. I have a deep appreciation of my past self for all the self-development efforts she employed to get me to where I am today. My past, present and future selves feel integrated and cooperative with each other. Each of my selves is very respectful and grateful for what the others bring to the table.
Ready to Fully Launch my Business Plan
In the six months since I quit my job my progress in how I shaped my new business and image has not taken a straight path. I am now steadily producing content for my blog that aligns with the message I want to share with the world. The last three months has been much more productive in this area than the last six months. I would not have been able to write many of these articles if I had not quit my job or grew in the area of relationships. As a blogger, the identity you take on certainly affects the content of what you write! Now people see me as a leader in the area of quitting your job for example. Many people who recently quit their jobs found my article on 13 reasons to appreciate why you quit your job to be a helpful reminder–especially if they were struggling with some of the consequences of doing so.
I had a more difficult time defining my identity as an Intuitive Raw Food Coach. As I focused on my blog, I have been somewhat neglecting eat-raw-foods-now.com. While behind the scenes I have much content that is about 80 percent complete I experienced a damper in my enthusiasm due to having ambiguity in how to position myself. The main issue I was facing is that my environment was treating me like I was a raw food coach and chef and that is what people kept asking me for. Yet what I have to offer from the heart is different from the image of what many people currently expect from me. I believe that these expectations are based on a combination of their own personal biases and my failing to take strong enough action to assert who I am and who I want to support. This is the type of issue in which Steve asserts that you need to be the author of your life or someone else will be. I have had the experience of people unintentionally treating me in a way that does not resonate and have also had the experience of more overtly imposing actions from others.
The truth is that if you treat me like a raw food chef and ask me about recipes and nutrition, I will be excited about 10 percent of the time and frustrated about 90 percent of the time. I approach health and wellness with a strong emphasis on using my intuition to contribute to others. For example, when I work with clients, using my intuition helps me get right to the heart of the matter very quickly and help people move through their blockages. After several sessions it has become clear to me that one of my core competencies is seeing the path of least resistance clearly. This gives people a good place to start focusing their effort to get results and fuel their motivation. It helped to have a couple of readings with Erin that validated that the intuitive part of my services are of primary importance. I am currently studying with Intuitive Consultant and Teacher, Slade Roberson. My experiences taking his course are the subject of a whole other article for a different time!
So why don’t I call myself a medical intuitive or an intuitive coach? For as much advice as I have received that I should take “raw” out of the equation, that did not feel any more empowering to me than allowing myself to be pigeonholed by the “raw” label. The short answer to that is that I see that humans have made a fundamental error by going down the path of creating processed and synthetic foods and cooking everything is sight. I also feel that a diet that is in conflict with eating mostly raw foods is a fundamental block to personal growth. Thus I now view my raw foods site as a focal point supporting people towards aligning with their true selves and being more spiritual and high vibrating beings. I realize that I have work to do to align this site with who I truly am and feel that it will blossom as I shower it with the love and attention that it deserves and I freely give. The site will include supportive resources such as recipes and information about foods but will also include other types of information that do not look like what is typically found on a website about raw foods. I also intend to greatly expand the “Where I Stand” page on this website to offer transparency in what I do and what I believe as well as to encourage people to consciously think about where they stand.
That said I will seriously consider the advice of my good friend Alex to provide more general intuitive services as well. I love writing about self-development topics and am excited about the interplay between my blog and my intuitive raw food website. Now that I have cleared up some of the blockages regarding connections and directions I feel even more excited about this path. Please sign up for my free newsletter if you would like to follow my offerings. I am providing a free ebook on the Master Cleanse to my subscribers later this month.
I have no doubt that I would have spent more time fumbling around with how to market myself without the help of my CGW friends. I also have many untapped resources within the CGW community that are ready to help me if I only ask. I am very grateful for this network which is so ingrained in my new reality. It is sometimes hard to imagine how I would take this path without this type of support. Sometimes support just shows up without my asking. For example Daan reviewed all the articles on my blog and sent me corrections and suggestions!
Not Ready for Another CGW Right Now
As I described earlier I feel like I am on the fast trajectory when it comes to relationships. I have plenty of material to work on already and I am sure I’ll be connecting with new workshop attendees through Facebook and the Forums. Don’t get me wrong–if you have not already attended a workshop or two, there is no substitute for the in-person connections and the collective high vibration of so many conscious growth oriented people sharing the same air space. Right now, I am in implementation mode. I have much to work on from the first three workshops and do not feel like I would be ready for another one until sometime in 2011. I felt really torn about going to CGW 5 but realized that I did not want to go for the right reasons. The reunion aspect of the workshop is not a good justification at this point. It is time to pursue new experiences and chew what I already have on my plate. There is no need to look at CGW with a hoarding and scarcity mentality. I have already benefitted abundantly from the experience and I have faith that although Steve may no longer formally do CGWs, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn and grow with other conscious folks in the future when and in the manner that I am ready. If you are on the fence about going to CGW 5 and you are committed to accelerating your personal growth then please go! Your future self will be grateful!