Over the past twelve months, I have become increasingly aware through observation and interaction, of an emerging trend associated with so-called motivational or inspirational speakers and various courses being bandied around under this guise.
Straight off the bat, I love Tony Robbins and consider him one of the finest coaches and a truly inspiring human being. Jack Canfield, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Charles Eisenstein and Sheryl Richardson also fit this bill along with many others, so I am not adverse to authentic motivational speakers at all.
It is apparent that we live in a society hell bent on achieving instant gratification, with text messages delivered in a nano second, fast foods, instant coffee and skills obtained overnight - the list is endless.
These days almost anyone can participate in a two-week yoga course, receive a certificate and call himself or herself a yoga teacher. Same with business coaching, training programmes, fashion design, massage therapy and a gamut of online courses, which promise to make you an “Expert” in a week or two.
Those who have laboured for years perfecting their skills, knowledge and abilities would probably scoff at the idea of instant expert or instant anything and rightly so.
The problem as I see it, is the participants in some of these pseudo courses and activities are left with an indelible impression they can do absolutely anything they can imagine. Pumped up beyond comprehension, the “wizard” at the front of the class convinces them they are indestructible, infallible and capable of pulling off the most amazing feats without batting an eyelid.
Find a tree, sit under it, close your eyes, think about what you want and wait for it to magically appear out of thin air.
In the warm bosom of the classroom, with a convincing, evangelistic voice at the front, while sharing a unifying experience with others, the ego can be easily convinced it can climb the world’s highest mountain without oxygen, no practice or thermal underwear, or make a million dollars in 21 days.
It’s that easy?
Once the participant comes down to earth, literally, and secure with the promise of a lifetime of dollar-bound coaching sessions to bolster their confidence, they step out into the world, chest pumped up, mimicking the teacher and espousing their ability to be able to perform miracles. Really? It’s that simple?
The hollow promises soon are exposed for just that, hollow promises and the learned participants inevitably withdraw, embarrassingly, into their shell, with dented ego, confidence and self-esteem.
This is inevitably the end-result of the over-ambitious, rose coloured glasses wearing, over night successful trainee, who has fallen for the instant cure-all to their financial woes and lowered status, by the pumped up egos of those who prey upon them.
I have seen many cases of this over the past year. I have had to deal with their veiled promises of huge success coming my way, that have failed to come into fruition, accompanied by plenty of seemingly plausible excuses. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a judgment, but more of an observation and I would rather people be out there improving their lives, rather than creating mayhem and harm.
In his ground-breaking book,“True Believer”, Eric Hoffer spells out clearly, the attributes of a cult leader and they are worthy of knowing, for we have seen some most extraordinary, charismatic leaders, lead people to great harm. Their characteristics can be loosely defined as:
· Fine orators – they speak very convincingly and have a way with words
· Charismatic characters, wearing the mask of charisma rather than authenticity
· Depicting the present as being untenable, therefore painting a highly desirable future as the only solution
· Promising a way out or salvation, if you follow them and them alone
· A somewhat cold-hearted approach that benefits themselves, at the expense of others
So if you are considering following a leader, group, movement or taking a course, workshop or similar, my advice would be:
1. Choose your mentor well. Do your homework and due diligence, verify their credibility and results (from others who have taken their courses or workshops)
2. Be prepared to put in some serious work and commitment towards being able to deliver a quality product or service
3. Look, don’t listen. By that I mean if you are contemplating joining a group, workshop, webinar, etc., watch carefully what the person is doing in their lives and notice if it is incomplete alignment with what they are saying.
4. Align yourself with high integrity people who share your values
5. Let go any urgency to get instant results
6. Differentiate yourself from the herd, by resisting the temptation to do anything that would lessen your skills or credibility.
As a proviso, I would like to add that I believe that most of us are tapping into only a fraction of our potential and that we ARE capable of much more in our lives. I believe that we are inextricably linked to a field of infinite potential and that we DO have access to this field through our multi-dimensionality. I believe that we can tap into our innate wisdom and find solutions to our life’s challenges, that we can create miracles and live the life of our dreams.
But my experience has been (and this may be different to others) that we have to prepare ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually to be able to access these extraordinary qualities and this is rarely if ever, achieved through glib words, hyped up enthusiasm and basking in a couple of weeks of shared euphoria.
No, it takes practice, practice and more practice. It takes delving deeply into what it is that prevents us reaching our highest potential. It takes learning new skills; new ideas and tossing out limited beliefs. It takes courage and determination, persistence and patience and most of all, understanding fully our capabilities in this moment and what we are able to achieve in a realist time frame, with the sources we have now.
In my previous corporate life, I learnt that SMART goals were a good way to go:
This then sets the parameters of what we can realistically achieve in the here and now, with room for growth and expansion, as we garner more experience, wisdom (knowledge + experience) and skills.
Are you willing and ready to become the person you want to become and live the life of your dreams?
Then please use discernment as to who you spend your hard-earned cash and time with and go forth and become the best version of you that you can be.