The “guru,” never tells you about the fact that his current marriage is failing, he feels like a fraud and is riddled with self-doubt.
The guru is an automaton. He’s chiseled his life and body from a slab of sacred stone into a masterpiece. He wakes up at 5 a.m. every day. He can barely see you from the pedestal he’s standing on. He looks down on you and thinks less of you.
I’ve read my fair share of self-help books. Indeed they did help me get inspired, find motivation, and offered useful tidbits of information and knowledge to apply.
But they also did something else — something pernicious. They made me hate myself for not being 100% perfect 100% of the time. I would compare my life to their Instagram-like existence. But what I didn’t realize is that I was viewing their lives through filters. I only saw what they wanted to show me.
I figured in order to become “successful,” I had to become the guru. When I first started writing I only wrote about things that were important to me. I shared my worldview with the genuine hope that it would impact someone.
But the more explored the landscape the more I learned how the game was played.
There are certain rules for becoming the “guru.”
Rule # 1-Never bleed.
In order to be a guru, you must never show weakness or vulnerability. After all, you’re teaching people how to “hack,” their way out of experiencing the human condition.
Rule #2-Preach without practicing.
Instead of talking about your own experiences, regurgitate things you’ve read from books and instruct people on how to live their lives based on theory alone. Call yourself an expert regardless of whether or not you deserve the title.
Rule #3-Focus only on attention and dollar signs.
Don’t treat the people who take the time to view your work as people. They’re just subscribers, followers, numbers on a screen to provide you jolts of Dopamine when you refresh your browser.
“When following the guru path my readership and audience increased but my happiness decreased.”
I’m not going to pretend like I still don’t care about these things — views, subscribers, significance, money, all of the trappings of success. I do. I don’t think wanting any of those things are bad.
What’s worse is trying to achieve any of those things without integrity. Not caring about other people is bad. Being blind to areas of your life that won’t lead to worldly success is bad. Never giving yourself permission to be happy until you reach a certain goal is bad.
I still want to inspire people and help others. I still come from a genuine place when I write more often than not (I think you’re all smart enough to tell the difference.)
There are people looking for inspiration, knowledge, and guidance. You can share all of the above with them, but the results will be much different depending on how you do it.
Here are some ways to help inspire people without coming off as just another self-help b.s. artist.
Rule#1 -Bleed, Everywhere
For the longest time, I wrote in a way that made me look good. I wanted you to believe that I had my shit together at all times. That I always feel motivated. That I’m worthy of your respect and admiration. And, admittedly, that I was better than you.
I asked my favorite writer, James Altucher, what the difference between a real writer and a bad writer was. He said, “Real writers bleed, bad writers preach.”
The stories that make you feel a bit nauseous before you publish — those are the ones people want to read. The ones where you let people know that you’re an actual person. That no matter how much you’ve grown you still have days where you’re frustrated and stuck.
Admit your faults. Tell stories about yourself that resonate with other people. Never be afraid to look bad.
Rule#2 — Tell them what you’ve done.
Don’t teach from theories. Teach and inspire from experience. Don’t tell people how to get motivated in “ten steps.” Tell them how you became more motivated. Tell them about how you felt when you had no motivation and what actions you took to overcome it. Tell them you took two steps forward and five steps back but kept going forward anyway.
Anything other than advice coming from your personal experience comes off as bullshit and people can smell it from a mile away.
Rule#3 — Share, Don’t Lecture
People who are already feeling low might not benefit from being put down even more. Don’t tell people what to do. Offer them guidance and allow them to take it or leave it.
Everybody has a worldview and it’s their right to share it. It’s my firm belief that people will be better off by tapping into their strengths and building their careers and lives around them. I believe people should fight for their freedom and seek to live a life where they don’t have to answer to anybody. I believe in non-conformity and that people should question everything.
That’s what I believe. If it’s appealing to you and you’d like to learn more you can continue reading and communicating with me, but if not, no sweat.
I used to think that people had to feel the way I felt.
That they had to hate having a 9 to 5 job.
That they had to want financial freedom and big bank accounts.
That they had to live up to their true potential.
It’s my opinion that your life would be better if you do these things, but you can do whatever the hell you want. It’s your life.
Rule#4 — Make Friends and Build Community
When someone reaches out to me to express gratitude for what I’ve written I make sure to reply and thank them back. My career as a writer is nothing without people who want to read what I have to say.
Every time I sit down with the reader in mind my writing flourishes. Every time I’m overly concerned about how I’m going to come off to other people my writing suffers.
If you want to build a career out of inspiring people and sharing knowledge — get to know them. Talk to them. A small group of people who believe in what you’re doing will carry you further than trying to appear perfect and please everyone.
Rule#5 — Be patient, experiment, and grow.
The worst part about getting wrapped up in the guru path was that it made me rush — to be “successful,” to “work 4 hours per week,” to make millions, reach all of my goals, and blaze through my bucket list.
I’ve been spending all of my time behind a computer screen or in my own head — plotting, scheming, spinning my wheels until I go crazy.
All the while missing the things that make life great. Moments with family and friends. Just being in the moment. Living just to live-no expectations.
Fighting for my “freedom,” has actually built a prison in my own mind. Even at this moment, I can feel the tight grip on my soul created by the allure of success.
I’ll never stop permanently, but I can stop right now. and breathe.
There’s no manual for being successful. The only thing you can do is learn, experiment, test, teach, share, communicate, get feedback, and do it all over again.
If I need to deprive myself of the goodness in life in order to be successful then it’s not worth it.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.