“Guiltspiration” is Another Virus Among Personal Development Coaches

I come to you for hope not to hope less.

James Ssekamatte
Apr 1 · 8 min read
Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

Trying to inspire someone while at the same time intentionally or unintentionally making them feel guilty is what I call “guiltspiration”.

Example: Imagine you are starting out at 0 building a coaching business and you watch your inspiration and role model successful coach offer advice on how he built his business and his advice to you and several other people on youtube is this… “Listen to me because I have made so much money doing this which means I know what I am talking about. Do not listen to anyone who doesn’t have what you want because they don’t know what they are talking about and won’t help you and oh while you are at it, make sure you do what you are passionate about”

This creates a chicken-egg situation, doesn’t it?

I am starting from 0 but passionate about self-development. You are teaching me how to grow my business and at the same time telling people not to listen to me because I don’t have 6 figures in my bank account so that means I don’t know what I’m talking about….Yes, my head is spinning too lol.

Since I started my personal development journey about 10 years ago, there is nothing that signals a red flag more than a young “certified” personal development coach.

Am not saying that young people cannot be personal development coaches. I am saying that I don’t trust a young person who had to pay money to get a certificate after a few months especially when they have not experienced the negative extremes of human development.

I don’t think that personal development is like engineering or medicine where you just have to go pay money for someone to teach you how to go about doing it. Personal development deals with the most and ultimate vulnerabilities of human development and it must be treated with care.

Back story

I was recently listening to a young man in his early 20s giving advice on the lessons he learned building a 6 figure business and how the rest could do the same.

For me, over the years stories like these have always acted as my extrinsic boosts that act as momentum setters before my intrinsic motivation like flow hits.

This guy is a certified personal development coach with a 6-figure personal development coaching business. Other than that, he has never shared any story from personal experience that I would consider really inspirational that led him to this point.

All I know, he and his boyfriend run this business together, they both took a few months course to get certified, they managed to build 6-figure companies out of that and that’s all the credibility they have.

That would not have been hard for me to relate to. I mean…. Pure hustle… Good on you…

It’s what this guy says next that really triggers me… He says….

“Never listen to someone who doesn’t have what you want. I have a 6 figure business with my boyfriend meaning I know what I am I am talking about. Truth is, other people who try to tell you this and do not own six-figure businesses are just wasting your time because they don’t know what they are talking about.”

I was triggered by this statement so I went looking at where he started. He had this youtube channel and his first video was… wait for it…. Advice on how to grow a youtube channel.

In my head I was like if people kept telling themselves that they wouldn’t listen to him because he had no subscribers at that time, and each time he tried to give people advice, no one would listen because he had no 6 figures to show for it, would he be where he is today?

The significance of personal development

Personal development is not supposed to be your cash cow that dictates who plays or not based on how much money they have in their bank account.

Personal development is meant to share experiences about things we went through and how they have made us better people. I don’t care about your clout or the amount of money you have in your bank account. — Especially if you are guilting me into inspiration or what I call guiltspiring me.

This is very common among so many personal development coaches in their 20s. I feel like people in their 20s always feel the need to prove a point. I am guilty of that too in some areas of my life. But when it comes to personal development, it shouldn’t be that someone is trying to prove a point at the expense of another person’s development.

The idea of offering proof of achievement is a confirmation bias that is intended to increase confidence in the beliefs of your audience about you. That is the only reason. It is a psychological bias that makes the receiver of your advice more receptive and confident about the decision they need to make.

Let's talk about giving and receiving advice

To better understand this and why I am so passionate about guiltspiring, we have to talk about a placebo or hypnosis.

In both of those cases, the mind is altered in the way it interprets stimuli being subjected to it thereby producing desired results.

How does this relate to guiltspiring?

When advice is given, it is merely a suggestion to the mind. It is an implant of an idea in the mind of someone giving it. If the idea spoken is of wealth and it makes an impression on the mind of the recipient, it doesn’t matter who spoke the word, rich or poor, it will take root in the mind of the one who receives it as long as it makes an impression.

The key here is about making an impression.

Ideas are projected to the mind and when they make an impression/are accepted by the mind, they take root.

When someone tells another person that “Don’t listen to that one, he won’t make you rich because he is poor..” this limits you from reaching the heights you can really get to because your mind is conditioned to reject beneficial ideas from everyone who doesn’t have what you want.

For example, I am an engineer. The first one in my family. I want to be an inventor but I don’t know any inventor in my life. I know of people like Elon Musk of course and according to our 20-year-old guru, I shouldn’t listen to any person but people like Elon Musk.

If I had listened to such advice, I would have regretted it for 2 reasons.

  1. I live 5000 miles from the inventor that has achieved what I want to achieve.
  2. I would never have become an engineer if I didn’t listen to the accountant who picked me up and gave me advice when I had been expelled from school because of poor grades in Math, physics, and chemistry.

Personal development deals with ideas beyond the technical advancement of human potential. It deals with advancing your mind with beneficial ideas taken from different people from different walks of life and your own experiences.

You must develop mentally before you can listen to people that will help you deal with the technical stuff of your development.

Listening to people who have achieved what you want is not necessarily personal development. It is called technical learning/studying. — You’re definitely book smart when you achieve that.

Personal development is about understanding how to deal with life’s challenges along the way and your helpers will come in many shapes, forms, and life experiences.

When you are on your personal development journey, everyone in your life has a lesson they can contribute. Ignoring the stinky beggar on the street means that you are skipping an entire lesson that you will soon have to learn the hard way. Refusing to listen to someone because of their status means that you miss out on ideas that would be beneficial to you.

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison”- Unknown

Meaningless advice given by someone else to another may to you be of truly great insight into how you can advance your own life. I have experienced this countless times in my own life and that of other people.

Quick story

When I was 17, two 12-year-old kids came up and told me that they wanted to learn guitar. I was the guitar president in my school then so I fixed them in my schedule easily and began classes with them. They always took the same classes and I always taught them simultaneously. It’s been 10 years now and one of them is a local Jazz musician here whereas the other used the guitar to become a classical pianist.

I am neither a Jazz musician nor am I a classical pianist. Besides being an engineer, my guitar skills are good but only because I love sweep picking and I consider myself the sweep picking guitarist when it comes to music. 3 people, one idea, and we went on totally different paths with this one idea.

I don’t like Jazz music, but the ideas I imparted in someone’s mind created a jazz musician. When it comes to piano, I love playing church-themed songs, but my ideas in guitar created a classical pianist.

It is not me that created these musicians. I am only a messenger carrying an idea that takes root in their minds when I speak it to them. They accept it and run away with it shaping, molding, and making it their own.

I cannot give myself credit for their success and I cannot guarantee that any other person I teach will be as successful as they were. I can only teach and try to find the best way to impress their minds with these beneficial ideas knowing that as soon as their minds accept my ideas, my work with them is done and the ideas help them to shape their own paths.

There are no guarantees in life when it comes to personal development. What may be a beneficial idea to one person may be total nonsense to another. Over time, people have come up with techniques to bypass this seeming randomness by introducing things like testimonials, proof of experience, and so on so that the mind of the person that they want to impress can quickly(even if temporarily) accept an idea so that it can influence a purchase decision to their(the sellers) favor.


I won’t discuss the morality or lack thereof when it comes to manipulation but I don’t think manipulation techniques should be given as litmus tests for people we choose to listen to or not.

“No one comes to the Father except the spirit draws him” — John 6:44

No idea (no one) will be accepted by you(the Father) except your mind (The spirit) accepts it (draws him).

When it comes to personal development, It doesn’t matter whether you have a six-figure business or clipping coupons. None of that matters. It’s not about you but rather what your ideas can do for another person. And it’s your experience that helps you get there. So many victims of child abuse borrowed from those experiences to form ideas that made them wealthy individuals.

If you are a young certified personal development coach, keep your qualifications to yourself if you are the guiltspiring type and seek out better ways to inspire those who listen to you rather than telling them who they should and shouldn’t listen to. I believe everyone has a purpose and if they have nothing to teach you, refrain your ego from projecting similar expectations onto other people’s development.

Do not confuse being a technical teacher with being a personal development coach.

James‘ Voice

Discussing my thoughts and interests in health, wealth, love and happiness among other things

James Ssekamatte

Written by

Artist, Engineer and human on the journey of health wealth Love and happiness

James‘ Voice

A publication about life in relation to health, wealth, love, and happiness. A place to explore, ask questions, and share ideas that will contribute to our well being and advancement as human beings.

James Ssekamatte

Written by

Artist, Engineer and human on the journey of health wealth Love and happiness

James‘ Voice

A publication about life in relation to health, wealth, love, and happiness. A place to explore, ask questions, and share ideas that will contribute to our well being and advancement as human beings.

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