“Self-Help” GURUS

When I see the word Guru, I immediately think of an old ascetic monk who guided me along the path of the yogin for twenty years. Oh, I know the term is used for IT and marketing pros and even in the context of the numerous coaches of the self-help genre. But as Tony Robbins once indicated, I am not your Guru. And he had a good point. The Guru relationship is not a one-off, seminar relationship, nor a you-tube based impersonal one. Those relationships are more like having chosen a role model to emulate. Modeling the masters as Tony would put it.

I like Tony. When I came down off the mountain and took up a career in learning and development and coaching in some pretty serious global companies – companies like Johnson Johnson, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs to name a few – I knew from the start that walking the path of a yogi, and implementing that knowledge in the context of a corporate environment was not the easiest of tasks for me. I could sit around a fire and talk about the mysteries of life. I had a decent enough academic background. I could even apply what I had learned to creating my own life of health, wealth and joy. But I didn’t know precisely how I might use what I’d learned to help others do the same, not to mention develop the skills and programs needed for effective change management or the promotion of ideas like cross-functionalism, diversity and inclusion and any number of issues which arise in an organization’s psychology. And then I saw my first Tony Robbins video and too many of his words just made sense.

So I watched more. And I think it was after watching 20 hours or so of his Business mastery program I understood that he was actually employing a variety of tactics to achieve the aims of his programs. Tactics like neuro-linguistic programming were obvious from the way he spoke to people one on one. But then there was the way he dealt with huge crowds and the total flow of the program design. So I watched and took notes and when the Japan International Cooperation Agency called on me to pitch in and help Afghanistan establish a new government after the Taliban had torn the country apart, I used what I learned from watching Tony’s approach to Leadership Training and was able to take my own game up the extra level needed to answer that particular call. To date that group of seminars with the Afghanis remains one of my fonder memories.

There have been other self-help “gurus” whom I have appreciated very much, too. Deepak Chopra comes to mind. Does he fall into the category? Besides his writing, I really liked the business acumen that led him to structure his organization the way he did and further admired the simplicity and accessibility of his website and the structure of his programs, too. I’ve tried to implement some of that where appropriate.

In closing, and in short, I suppose that one line of Tony’s – Model the Masters – has been one of the better guiding principles of my life’s journey, whether in the Himalayas, in the board and training rooms or in life in general. I’m thankful for masters who have walked the path before me and left some good breadcrumbs to follow.