So the other day someone called me a guru.
After I bundled them into the nearest dark alley, whacked them over the head with a baseball bat and sent them to sleep with the fishies*, I realized I might, just maybe, have a strong aversion to that word.
And I got to thinking about why.
Soon the answer descended on me from above (as it does when you’re a guru consulting your oracle dontcha know). The answer is: the whole idea of gurus is total bullshit.
Oh yeah, that’s why.
Guru implies that you know everything about everything. That you have access to some inner source of all-seeing all-knowing wisdom that, if mere mortals can only get close to, will be the solution to every problem ever..
Guru-ness strikes in two ways.
1. When someone calls themselves a Guru. In Australia we have another word for that: being a Wanker. A Wanker is kind of like a guru but usually involves holding a beer and shouting obscenities at attractive women.
Other than that there’s a heap of similarities.
2. When we bestow Guru-ness upon someone else. This is the innocent, but still dangerous, path to Guru-dom.
This happens we follow an expert (who does not call themselves a guru) and listen to them talk about an area they know a lot about. Because we are only ever seeing them speak about a topic they are very knowledgeable about then it’s easy to assume they know everything about everything. Even if they never say they do. The danger comes if we then think they hold the secret to everything we’ll ever need.
Having said that. Confession time. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that more than one person has called me a guru lately (yes, yes, I can see my regular readers and friends pissing themselves laughing right now. Thanks guys).
So, though I’m sure knew it already, I want to make it clear: I am not a guru. I don’t own any oracle-life objects and am really Very Bad at quite a lot of things. For example:
Things I am not so good at:
- Stairs.Specifically going down stairs. I haven’t quite cracked that one, and walking down without falling takes full concentration (how DO people do it?). Stairs leave me frozen. As does parallel parking. I’m pretty sure gurus have that sussed.
- Showing up on time. As anyone who has every tried to Skype me knows. I’m either very early, or really quite late and have no idea how people find the sweet spot in the middle.
- Hiding my emotions.I feel it, you see it on my face. That’s the deal. There is a reason I’ve never worked in frontline customer service (well, except the sort where you are plying people with alcohol and pretty much anything goes from that point. Then again, I suspect gurus don’t drink
- Knowing everything about everything. Quite simply, I don’t. That’s the the big one. Seriously.
- I don’t know if you should stay with your partner.
- I don’t know if you should buy that car.
- I don’t know 10 Surefire Strategies to always getting the best deal on round the world flights.
- I don’t know if you should redecorate your kitchen in fuschia pink (scrap that, I know that one: no, you shouldn’t. Really).
- I don’t know if everything will work out the way you have planned.
- I don’t know if everything will work the way I have planned. Probably, it won’t.
While we’re at it there are some things I can’t do:
- I can’t choose for you.
- I can’t force you to make the changes you say you want to make.
- I can’t make everything ok.
- I can’t make those scary changes for you.
And if anyone claims they can, do me a favour: run the other way. No one can know everything, no one can sort out everything, no one person or group is the source of all wisdom. No one can tell you for sure what will happen in 10 years time.
Believing otherwise, even for one moment, means you are giving up the most important freedom you have: the freedom to think for yourself.
Here’s what I do know
I know that each of us can inhabit, really well, that the little piece of the world that we do know something about. My little part of the world involves what I do for you right here. You see:
- I do know to break down the barriers and choose a life and career direction that rocks.
- I do know how to give you the ways of thinking to create a life that’s really yours (and where you can flow and be in your power without constantly feeling not quite food enough)
- I know how to inspire you and show you ways to making all of this happen for yourself.
I might not be good at climbing stairs but I am pretty darn good at that.
What this means for you
A word for anyone who is moving into a field where you might be seen as any kind of expert: Take the pressure off yourself.
You do not have to be an all rounder. You don’t have to be a good at everything. And you don’t have to be a guru of all things.
Above all, you don’t need anyone to be your guru.
A free range human is better than that.
That does not mean you have to do this alone and this doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Quite the opposite: when you hit a barrier that you can’t figure out by yourself, pick out the person who can help you with that thing that you need help with right now: dive in to their ideas, learn from them and then go out there and rock out your own life in your way.
Even the people we (secretly) think of as gurus ask for help. Even - especially - the so-called gurus are continually learning from others who have been there before them.
But (and this is important) they are learning in order to build a life on their terms, not because someone else told them who to be.
That, in my humble opinion, is the only guru lesson worth learning.
*not really. I just watched too many Tarantino movies.
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