Most Self-Help Gurus Are Crooks

I know what you are thinking: I’m going to attack Tony Robbins.

Tony is a billionaire from the advice and motivation he peddles, and although Tony is a big target, I don’t want to focus on him. I followed him for some time, and if his story is true, he did start in this business with good intentions. I also give him the benefit of the doubt because he never denies that he is in this business for the money.

Because after all, the self-help industry is a business. Estimates put it at a 10 billion dollars a year.

With that kind of money at stake, there are going to be quite a few crooks.

How often does someone try to sell me a course that promises a piece of the personal development pie? It’s unfortunate, but I find many of the crooks in this industry are at the entry-level. They are the self-appointed gatekeepers who try to convince you that you must pay them before you can make money.

They are the ones who have made a name for themselves for passing out dubious advice. They freely admit you can make a fortune by rehashing a bunch of self-help tropes and presenting them in a way that looks new and improved. Now, because the life of a self-help guru is stressful, and most people are fickle, they teach others to grab their portion of the billions at stake.

Then there are those that have no problem handing out advice that is not useful and sometimes downright dangerous.

Who are these people?

One is a failed digital marketer who saw the money available and wanted it. He had never done anything positive in his life. He never made changes for the better. He read a bunch of self-help books and took the most marketable ideas from each. Then he hired ghostwriters to create his blog, books, and social media presence.

I should know, I was one of the ghosts.

He often bragged about the size of his network. He explained there were hundreds of budding gurus like himself all willing to pay for someone to create their social media persona and teachings. If we did right by him we would have more work than we knew what to do it.

The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. Money is nice, but my conscience wouldn’t let me work for people like that. Friends told me I should have done what I needed to do and took their money, but I felt dirty.

I couldn’t do it.

Self-help addiction. (Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

My Addiction to Self-Help

After a few years of trying to deal with mental illness on my own, I was in a used bookstore and slid into the self-help section. I usually avoided this section of the store, but that day I lingered.

Call it a cry for help.

I spent the next few years reading and studying every book I could get my hands on. Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Stephen Covey, Viktor Frankl, Dale Carnegie - I absorbed them all. I even spent a week with Rhonda Byrne. The Secret is a time in my life I’ll never get back.

I read, and read, and read, but nothing in my life ever changed, and that’s when I learned my own secret:

Everyone wants change, but change is hard. People like me are looking for an easy way to have everything we want in our lives without having to put in the work.

The Self-Help Industry’s Main Selling Point

Most of the players in the industry make money by convincing you, in a few words, that they have the answer you’ve been looking for all these years. They have a way that you can finally have lasting change in your life, in just a few simple steps.

People like me are willing to buy whatever they offer just to find the secret to having a good life - as long as we don’t have to break a sweat.

I was lazy. People are lazy.

How true is this?

Gurus are laughing all the way to the bank because they know you won’t even finish the book you just bought before you clamor for another.

It’s time we stopped financing others lives and started doing something to make ours better.

The Secret — In 30 Words

I can break down exactly what a person needs to do to have a better life — a different life.

  • Decide you want your life to change
  • Make a plan to change your life
  • Take action and put in the work
  • Improve a little each day

I am now on a journey to change my life. Instead of reading about what I should be doing, I am doing it, every day.

I make goals for myself. I measure my successes and failures on a daily basis. I adapt and make newer and more challenging goals.

For example:

  • I decided I wanted to make a living from my writing.
  • I made a plan to write every day on Medium.
  • I wrote every day, even when I didn’t feel like it. I’ve had success, and I’ve had failure (this past week I didn’t write one word). I learned and created new goals.
  • I keep writing every day and improve as a writer.

You can easily do the same thing yourself. Commit to doing the hard work and every day will get you closer to success.

I’m No Guru

I know I started this article by condemning the people who hand out advice, and here I am passing out my own. What makes me think I’m any different?

I am only passing on what works for me. I’m just a regular guy. I don’t have a book for you to buy, or a course to sign up for on my website. I don’t have hidden motives or agendas.

I don’t want others stuck in the same self-help trap I was. I was reading and never changing. I was learning but never taking action.

You don’t need another guru to tell you how to change your life.

All you need to do is put in the work.

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Introverted essayist and creator- I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up!

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