“Leadership” Training by Gregory May and Associates Training
In 1984, the FAA hired Gregory May as a trainer for its Executive School (Report I, n.d., p. 3). “FAA first hired Gregory May in a time when it concluded that inept and authoritarian managers were a major cause of the PATCO strike….FAA hired Gregory May to deliver training that emphasized personal responsibility and individual accountability as keys to executive effectiveness” (Hearings, 1996, p. 782). May was brought to FAA by the FAA Executive School Manager; this manager had been at IRS previously and had used May there (Hearings, 1996, p. 843). Over the following nine years, May‟s training services -- and influence -- expanded, as he
was increasingly used to teach other executive courses as well as provide team building and other special training programs at headquarters and other sites. He provided leadership training directly to the FAA and train-the-trainer programs to subcontractors at the Florida center, as well as a variety of private workshops for FAA employees outside these other venues. May and his associates eventually conducted more than 40 different types of training programs at FAA; all were basically variations on certain standard courses (Report II, n.d., p. 5-33).2 In exchange for the training provided, GMA was paid more than $1.4 million (Report II, n.d., p. 5-2). It was a widely held belief among FAA managers and executives that participation in the training was essential for career progression within the agency (Hearings, 1996, p. 836). Eventually, 4,000 FAA employees attended GMA training programs. This total included about 75% of the members of the Senior Executive Service at that time (Hearings, 1996, p. 836).
Gregory May had a private practice as a licensed psychologist (Hearings, 1996, p. 843). He also had roots in then popular New Age training and was apparently not only a graduate, but also a trainer of est (Erhard Seminars Training) (Report II, n.d., p. 4-6). May was also a devotee of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, located in Yelm, Washington. Ramtha is supposedly a 35,000 year-old warrior spirit from Atlantis that is given voice when “channeled” through the current body of a J.Z. Knight. In an audio tape obtained of a conference hosted by Knight, May is heard talking with Knight/Ramtha. May‟s association with Ramtha was not widely publicized (Hearings, 1996, p. 834). He apparently did training with Pacific Bell, although its not clear if this was as part of the Krone training. Normally, an employee‟s or contractor‟s private religious beliefs would be beyond the scope of a Departmental Investigation, unless those beliefs are used in training in ways that can offend the beliefs of others and/or become the basis for subverting and converting participants to the trainer‟s ideological or religious worldview. Such was the
case here, and eventually became a basis for the complaint that he was practicing a form of New Age religious indoctrination.
The Typical May Training Program
As noted earlier, much of the training May and his associated provided was a variation on the same basic process. As discovered in the subsequent investigation, there were no consistent or documented work orders or training specifications provided by FAA, hence May was not bound to deliver training according to contractual specification. Further, his programs had no program outline, syllabus or course materials. Course titles carried little predictive power for what was actually covered in the course. And in at least one set of programs, participants had to sign a hold-harmless waiver prior to participation.
A key point of emphasis in the GMA programs, a point also found in est and other “new age” programs, was that of commitment. This was operationalized in the training programs, for example, by strict demands that participants be on time at the start of the program. Even the slightest deviations from these commitments qua rules evoked disproportionate aggressive reactions and created a totalist autocratic atmosphere intended to create complete obedience (Report II, n.d., p. 4-112, p. 7-50). And, like other New Age programs, bathroom breaks were curtailed, refreshments were limited to water or coffee, and sessions would last until the early hours of the morning.
The core of the typical training program was structured around personal confrontations between May and the participants. In one of the few proposals he actually submitted, GMA asserted that “‟constructive confrontation is integrated into almost all aspects of the courses designed and delivered by [GMA]” (Report II, n.d., p. 4-85). During one program, he divulged
that his purpose as the trainer was to “cause pain…pain is the only way to growth. People don‟t notice things without pain….” (Report II, n.d., p. 5-68).4 Using this confrontational method, May laced his communications with profanity on an ongoing basis and regularly berated individuals during training classes, calling them “liars” and “assholes”. One procedure, known as the “Hot Seat”, was the centerpiece to this method: individuals would sit in a chair in front of the class and be peppered with questions, often about issues involving early psychological or personally charged trauma and/or of a sexual nature. The scene was videotaped. This type of questioning could continue for an hour or more while the trainer (May) interspersed presumably psychological interpretations and interventions into the mix (Hearings, 1996, p. 832). According to the testimony of one attendee at a May program, “in an open setting, May elicited information and made assessments regarding individuals‟ work, religious backgrounds, marriages, relationships with family members. Anyone attempting to express a point of view in this environment set himself or herself up for destruction at May‟s hands” (Hearings, 1996, p. 699). In any debate or confrontation with trainees, May would always win through a combination of doggedness and intimidation. Others watching these events learned to hold their tongues when dealing with him (Report II, n.d., p. 5-98).
The GMA training programs included a number of other non-traditional “training” methods (Report II, n.d., 7-46f). While not necessarily widespread, these activities became emblematic of the May training:
In the Word Game, participants were to select a word at random from a container. They were told that the words they picked were, in fact, not due to random chance but were rather the result of a universal force that guided them to pick that specific word, and hence the word had special meaning or significance to that person.
In the Candle exercise, participants sat motionless on the floor and stared at two lighted candles while “new age” music was played in the background.
In the Mirror exercise used in a “Women‟s Course”, women stood in front of mirrors in their bathing suits while May asked them questions about what they liked and didn‟t like about their bodies and themselves. In a parallel Men‟s course, participants disrobed to their underwear and sat in front of the class while asked very personal questions by the rest of the group (Report II, n.d., p. 6-25).
Participants were directed to stand up and sit down for approximately 1 ½ hours without stopping. As fatigue set in, mistakes increased and those miscreants were singled out and berated (Report II, n.d., p. 4-110).
At the end of the training, students were put into support groups for continuity after the training. These Commitment groups, as they were called, were established during the “… training sessions with the purpose of meeting every week and assisting each other with the commitments made by the group members” (Report I, n.d., p. 52).
Like other New Age programs, this training rested on its own distinctive ideological worldview and beliefs (Adams and Haaken, 1987). For example, May postulated that people make their own reality; this is an extreme form of subjective individualism where reality is what you think it is. The implication is that there is really no such thing as institutionalized racism or sexism, for example, because that phenomenon only exists because you allow it to exist in the mind. Further, since reality is in the person‟s mind, individuals are the complete determiners of their fate based on their decisions about how they wish to perceive or what they elect to believe in (Report II, n.d., p. 4-101). May pronounced in various training programs that Christianity was
a “far-fetched” belief, that two-thirds of people in psychotherapy were either Catholic or Jewish, and that religion is “suppressing and fear-inducing” (Report II, n.d., p. 4-108).
Like other self-recruiting cult-like programs, there was a progressive nature to the training. That is, any one training program was but the entry into a sequence of programs; in that way, May had a built-in market, while trainees were repeatedly exposed to the same messages by virtue of multiple attendance. Under these conditions, over time and after having taught so many FAA management personnel, May had achieved some influence over personnel decisions in the Agency. For example, in one team-building session held in Seattle, May, still acting as a contractor and private citizen, held up a black book that, he said, included the names of every FAA manager who would be appointed to the Executive Service. (After a legal battle to obtain GMA records and documents that was finally won by the Government, the book was not recovered.) GMA also provided performance evaluations of FAA personnel later used in disciplinary action or for promotional purposes. May participated in a meeting between an upper manager and his subordinate employee in order to persuade the subordinate to retire. He advised a senior official that one participant in his training who was complaining about the program would not make a good manager (Hearings, 1996, p.843).
Investigation of the May Training Programs
Between 1987 and 1993, the University Research Corporation (URC) was the contractor for providing instructional services at FAA‟s Center for Management Development (CMD), located in Palm Coast, Florida. In this context, URC instructors attended a training program to increase their skill levels; it was conducted by GMA. In late February, 1993, three ex-employees of URC sent a complaint to the newly appointed Secretary of Transportation Frederico Pena that
eventually launched an internal investigation through the Department of Transportation‟s Office of the Inspectors General (Report I, n.d., p. 1). The ex-URC employees had made earlier complaints but their complaints had been rebuffed, downplayed and dismissed by FAA administrators. The former URC employees complained about the training methods used in the GMA program, including sleep deprivation, altered diet, isolation from outside contacts, and meditation. They also complained about lack of privacy, because mixed-gender participants were tied together in pairs for 24 hours and forced to do everything together, including sleeping and going to the bathroom (Report II, n.d., page 7-17). And they concluded that May and his associates used cult-like training techniques to brainwash FAA participants. Within a week of the complaint reaching Pena, CNN Moneyline aired a two-part investigative report on these allegations, called “Mind Games”. (There was a follow-up broadcast on April 15, 1993.) ABC‟s Nightline ran a story on ???
On March 4, 1993, Pena stopped the training and ordered an internal investigation (Hearings, 1996, p. 674). While initially intending to focus on the supposed irregularities in URC contractor training, it became apparent that the URC issue was but the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As a result, the scope of the investigation was expanded to include virtually all management training provided by the FAA. In 1996, after an extensive investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) (Report of Investigation I and II, n.d.), Congressional hearings were held. The total cost of investigation was put at approximately $1.2 million (Hearings, 1996, p. 866). The Hearings were conducted by the Subcommittee on Appropriations. The findings of the investigation will be abstracted first, followed by notes on the Congressional hearings.
The Findings from the Investigation
Based on their investigation, the OIG found multiple problems with the training provided. The key problems directly associated with GMA training were the following:
(1) Contracting irregularities.
Even though FAA spent $1.4 million on GMA training services, GMA never earned a contract through the regular process of competitive bidding. Instead, GMA was contracted through an exception process (called the SF-182 procedure), whereby agency personnel could procure training services worth less than $25,000 without competitive bidding. This option existed to allow administrative flexibility in obtaining special purpose services needed on a limited basis more quickly and expeditiously than that required by competitive bidding. Over the nine-year period between 1984 and 1993, more than 200 special procurements under this exception were made to obtain GMA training (Report I, n.d., p. vi, 30). The OIG concluded that this procedure was abused for the special purpose of circumventing the competitive bidding process (Report II, n.d., p.5-11).
(2) Conflicts of interest.
Senior executives established close, personal relationships with the contractor (May) that compromised their independence and ability to make impartial decisions about the program. These relationships often occurred in the context of various private and personal workshops (programs conducted by May but not specifically for the FAA). These workshops included elements of group psychotherapy, personal growth and spiritual learning. Even though most of
the FAA employees who attended these programs did so on their own time and at their own expense, problems remained such as:
More than 65 FAA employees, including 14 from the SES, attended private workshops provided through GMA. Some of these workshops were held in the private homes of FAA employees.
FAA training officers as well as SES members served as “Assistants” to May in these private workshops. They were reimbursed for their expenses.
A number of other FAA employees were granted discounts or waivers for payments for entering these workshops.
In several cases, FAA paid for employees to attend these programs.
May stayed at the homes of at least five FAA employees when in their areas.
In these various situations, the employees all were in positions with the authority to hire him using the SF-182 procedure.
(3) Violating standards of practice as defined by various OPM training procedures (Report to the Deputy …, n.d.). The specifications of problems in this area were several:
a) No program evaluation was ever conducted. Contrary to Federal policy requiring training program evaluation, no summative evaluation of GMA programs was ever conducted. Only end-of-course “smile sheets” were used as the almost exclusive means for program evaluation.
b) Failure to provide appropriate training content. Federal policies require that training not involve any unnecessary psychological stress or provoke unnecessary controversy. As noted, the GMA programs did just that by using procedures like confrontation, the Hot Seat and other activities. EEOC guidelines also limit the extent to which religious discrimination is allowed:
employees should be allowed reasonable accommodation to training content that is considered objectionable to participant religious beliefs. If an employee decides not to participate in a religiously objectionable program, lack of participation should not penalize the employee when making personnel decisions. Investigators concluded that the May training “was psychological training designed to change the way individuals think including how individuals define such things as „truth‟ and „reality‟” (Report I, n.d., p. 72). The OIG could find no evidence that May was acting as an agent of the Ramtha school, although it appears that teachings from the philosophy of that school were included in the training materials and did come up in discussions with participants (Hearings, 1996, p. 685).
c) Lack of required documentation. Compounding these deficiencies in required training procedures, the investigation also found an absence of documentary evidence about the programs and practices.
(4) Lack of cooperation in the investigation among senior FAA managers.
Employees up to and including senior managers provided false information and withheld material facts from investigators. An air of hysteria surrounded the investigation, and OIG Special Agents were accused of being on a “witch hunt” and were threatened with lawsuits. According to the OIG, this amounted to “institutional resistance.” Given the reach of the May program (impacting a majority of the senior executive staff), its ability to shape perceptions and create strong loyalty, and the extensive infrastructure of dubious practices used by career civil service staff to evade and circumvent normal controls, investigators wondered to what extent the process of culture change may have been too successful. That is, could the May training have in fact so altered the thinking process of senior executives as to have produced a newer,
brainwashed (if you will) top management corps at FAA? Some anecdotal evidence suggested there could have been problems along these line, but the true answer may never be known.
(5) Adverse personnel actions associated with training.
In spite of the ethical and legal problems that can arise from requiring participation in training programs that are so intrusive and can be so potentially damaging psychologically, the training became a key link in the chain of personnel decisions. As noted, FAA employees felt compelled to attend or face career derailing. There was evidence that May would meet with senior FAA officials prior to programs in order to obtain information about each attendee. For example, trainees noticed how May had information about the trainees that had not been disclosed in the program. In practice, it seemed that the information obtained was derogatory in nature and was used as a weapon against the trainee. Further, one participant refused to participate in the Hot Seat during a program and was removed from class; that person was then reassigned to another job (Report I, n.d., p. 40). Finally, “the investigation disclosed no evidence that the training resulted in improved managerial performance or actually contributed to any intended change in the FAA‟s culture…” (Report II, n.d., p. 4-58).
Before Congress, Final Considerations
Congress held hearings on the training provided at FAA. Early in the testimony, several participants shared the stories of what happened to them as a result of the training. Participants told of the profound and at times severe psychological damage caused by their involvement in these programs.
In the Congressional spotlight, Kevin Garvey, an authority on cults and training, evaluated the May training programs and concluded that May “uses its training to deceptively impose a religious and spiritual conversion on people from whom its intent is initially kept secret” (Hearings, 1996, p. 817). Garvey traced the contents of the May training to various well-known cults, including est training, the Church of Scientology, the Ramtha cult, and occultism (Hearings, 1996, p. 817). While various training techniques were used, the effects were predictable. For example, the experiential nature of the training was in many ways more important than its intellectual content. That is, the training was designed to create a totalistic milieu that controlled the participant‟s language, interactions, physical condition (often involving deprivation), and access to outside contacts. Throughout, the intention was to create conditions that created personal and social disorientation; that disorientation would be followed by a reorientation to the teachings of the leader. Indeed, the exercises and activities created the disorientations that made the reception of new messages possible. The leader was in total control; interactions between trainer and participant were always unequal, between a person in the superior position and those who were not. A leader‟s charismatic ability to know and control all was positioned as deriving from guidance provided by the animating Spiritual force of the universe. Participants were expected to relinquish their pretensions to self-control and place themselves at the disposal of this guiding Spirit. Finally, a promise to keep total secrecy about the training was extracted from participants.
Overall, then, the training processes used by the FAA were spread open for full public display and reproach. The fallout inside the Agency was several. The Agency‟s Director of Human Resources left government employment on the heels of the investigation, as did his deputy and the head of the Executive School. Other managers also left in response.
Additionally, Congress imposed several sanctions on FAA. Specifically, language was added annually to appropriation bills preventing May-like training. Further, the FAA was required to file quarterly reports to Congress detailing their progress in meeting the various recommendations adopted from the investigative report. This reporting lasted for about five years. Finally, FAA training was the subject of news reports by such media as CNN‟s Moneyline, ABC‟s Nightline, and Newsweek. 5
http://pages.towson.edu/aclardy/Working ... strton.pdf
I assisted Garvey [who died a few years ago of lung problems] on this case with the Ramtha material, along with a mutual lawyer friend who was a former Scientologist.In the Congressional spotlight, Kevin Garvey, an authority on cults and training, evaluated the May training programs and concluded that May “uses its training to deceptively impose a religious and spiritual conversion on people from whom its intent is initially kept secret” (Hearings, 1996, p. 817). Garvey traced the contents of the May training to various well-known cults, including est training, the Church of Scientology, the Ramtha cult, and occultism (Hearings, 1996, p. 817)
thousands of mostly highly educated white collar workers and government workers have been "required" to take these 'est' like "trainings" over the decades from any number of groups like Lifespring, Psi World, Landmark-Forum, Insight, etc. May was actually a small player in this part of the cult field. In every case, the so-called 'hot seat' or tearing down of the individual ego and "its" beliefs occurs by utilizing a barrage of high and low level trance exercises. Christianity is especially targeted. In the end the excited new "grad" is encouraged to recruit more people, to participate for "free" as an assistant in a future program [free labor for the cult], and to see the world as an "enlightened" being.
back in the late 1970s, the joke was that
people entered est training with normal problems and came out obnoxious.
Interesting to read your perspective, Joe. Gregory May also died 2 or 3 years ago.joe sz wrote:back in the late 1970s, the joke was that
people entered est training with normal problems and came out obnoxious.
Here is a link to more info concerning legal proceedings against Gregory May and Associates.
I cringe still when I think about some of my behaviour while in RSE, speaking my "truth".
I did a good bit of apologizing the past few years.
I got a chuckle picturing the FAA middle managers having sit around doing compulsory candle focus and wondering what the heck was going on. I wonder how much of this mentality came down from the White House? It is well known that following Hinckley's 1981 assassination attempt on the president, Nancy Reagan had astrologer Joan Quigley on retainer to advise Ronald Reagan on when to hold press conferences and when to travel, etc.
It could be worst Michelle could call on Marie laveau the Voodoo Lady from Down in Louisiana
if I remember well JZ named someone's kid by that name.
Also Hillary was using a physic during Bill Presidency.
I am in Montreal for the ICSA conference..going well. Brought my wife and 2 daughters to enjoy the city--magnificent jazz festival and good food, shopping, etc.
Hillary brought in Jean Houston who is an old exponent of human potential movement and trance states using mythological journeying to discover self...as the "divine" within
http://articles.latimes.com/1996-06-28/ ... an-houston
and also Tony Robbins invited to consult during Clinton years in White House.
http://articles.latimes.com/1995-01-10/ ... camp-david
Hey Joe. Also try to go visit the Old Montreal. Le Vieux Montreal Place Jacques Cartier They Have Great food there. My Nephew from Montreal is visiting me right now, leaving today did all the tourist traps here in Vegas.I always said Montreal is a Great place to be from. enjoy.
We were in Old Town Montreal daily. feels like old European city in many ways, great place to stroll, eat, people watch. My wife and 2 daughters saw Cirque du Solei "Amaluna" there, bought cheap seats day before but got lucky when host resat them in most expensive seats.
Montreal is on my list of favorite cities now.
There were maybe 2 people concerned about Ramtha issues at ICSA conf--one has a mid-age daughter in the cult, but I did to get to meet him. I attended maybe half of the events, and with all the choices of talks, one missess a lot at these conferences anyway.
the next one is in Trieste Italy Jul 2013 if anyone is interested in dining along the Adriatic while discussing the global cult problem!
There was an excellent presentation on New Age by Olivier Faelens: A philosophical analysis of truth concepts within the New Age Movement.
..it addresssed the Greg May/RSE/est type abberations from the pov of using Postmodern ideas as a form of relativism yet claiming to teach essential truth.
What shall be see is how, contrary to a postmodern interpretation wherein these concepts are relativized, New Age cults actually understand and live their concepts in wahat may be described as a "neuromantic" manner that entails a reenchantment with essentialism .
from Wikiped on Essentialism:
Thus, for the scientist, reality is explored as an evolutionary system of diverse entities, the order of which is determined by the principle of causality. Because Essentialism is a conceptual worldview that is not dependent on objective facts and measurements, it is not limited to empirical understanding or the objective way of looking at things. Just as Eastern mysticism teaches that reality is more than what the rational mind can formulate analytically from observing the nature of "otherness", the essentialist ontology transcends self/other dualism to define the undivided source — the ineffable Oneness alluded to in Eastern Philosophy.
iow, the New Age devotee lives in a world of cognitive dissonance all the time, wanting it both ways but having nothing of real value or reliable philosophy....in the end.
JZ: I am not responsible for what Ramtha says even if 'he' appears to speak only through me. But Ramtha speaks truth even if you can't grasp it now...
If I can get the paper I will post it for EMF readers.