Have you noticed that there are a lot of gurus out there these days?
Internet marketing, the Power of the Now, Secrets and Key Insights, to wealth, fame and enlightenment are all within your reach. Everyone seems to be an expert these days. But is anyone actually working?
Never before has so much information been available to so many. In many ways it is the heralding of a new age of enlightenment and individual opportunity, a signal of the coming frontier of unprecedented entrepreneurship. In other ways it is the beginnings of a sea of confusion for those who seek help and guidance amidst the storm.
For entrepreneurs, who already suffer from the burdens of steep learning curves and overwhelm, sorting through the ever increasing roster of gurus is one more steep learning curve.
Where did they all come from?
They came from the changes to our marketplace that are unfolding rapidly with the age of information and globalization of commerce. The world is flattening. Everyone is potentially now an internet millionaire, and all the real work in society is now being shipped offshore or relegated to migrant workers. What's left? Instant gurus.
The problem is that consumers love it. Where would Oprah or all the talk shows be if they didn't have the newest expert on the show? Where would the news channels be without the opposing talking heads; where a former drug addict or felon can share the stage with a lifelong PhD in a battle for "expert" opinion?
Old Fashioned Gurus
It used to be that a Guru attained status from deep dedication and ritual attention to a discipline of inquiry and insight such that the wisdom of a lifetime could be conveyed to those who sought knowledge and wisdom and a path to understanding.
Often a Guru was an ascetic eschewing Life's distractions in order to stay on course to understanding. Professors in Universities who applied critical thinking to find new theories, brilliant geniuses who tinkered radically, or prolific writers who tired over words and explanations were the hallmarks of the world's inventory of Gurus.
In the past it was easier to find and follow a Guru, because they stood out. There were measures of devotion and dedication against which to grasp their credibility. And the uniqueness of their content and ideas was not drowned out in the noise of waves of new ideas, like we are experiencing now.
New Era Gurus
And in truth, this is a new era for Gurus. It is no longer good enough to sit on a hill to attain insight and to then confer those insights onto one's followers. No one has time to sit on a hill anymore and few can get paid for it. The new Gurus must find and teach enlightenment or wisdom or new theories while tap dancing and farting while walking down a crowded street in Manhattan.
The sitting mystic or passive expert has given way to the walking mystic and the active expert, the doers, the one's whose wisdom in transcendent of the noise and hype and confusion, the ones who can weather the crowd by delivering compelling value and differentiated wisdom.
There are gurus who have become gurus by teaching people how to become gurus. And there are a lot of instant gurus, experts in something that has rapidly emerged as a trend and they are leading the pack of "How to" experts.
Where does one turn, and who does one go to nowadays to figure out which guru is hot now; which ones are real; and which one's can actually help?
Look for Wisdom
The answer is: Look for wisdom, tire tracks and war wounds in plain wrappers. Wisdom is different from knowledge. "Wisdom is having gained knowledge, understanding, experience, discretion, and intuitive understanding, along with a capacity to apply these qualities well." Wisdom takes time, hard knocks and lots of learning, which is where the tire tracks and war wounds come in. Look for gurus who have experience, have been in the trenches and fought the battles and survived economic cycles to be able to see the Blinding Flashes of the Obvious™ or the forests for the trees.
The world is full of nifty shiny objects, and gurus are now becoming as common and glitzy as shiny objects. Look carefully, and find the weathered ones. Chances are they know the value of duct tape, tarnish and rust and they understand the real path to success or enlightenment, not the flash in the pan or the latest trend or fad.