If someone were to ask me that question I would most likely answer no one. I am not the guru type, I don’t tend to follow trends too readily and I do not put all my faith in one person. However my life has been filled with mentors, and I have no doubt that I would have progressed further and faster had my arrogance not so often stood in my way.
Over the years, I have noticed a strange tendency among successful people and that is if they don’t follow a ‘guru’ then they very often have a ‘life coach’ or Personal Advisor. The really brilliant ‘life coaches’ are usually to be found very far away and are used to working in a one to many environment (i.e. in an auditorium of hundreds or even thousands of people). They write books and make dvd’s that are sold worldwide.
All this might seem ridiculous to you, but if you think about it logically, it’s only the arrogant or non ambitious people who do not see the need for life coaches and personal advisors. Take the example of a tennis player, no matter how naturally talented they might be, without a coach, they will never truly know their weak points and will certainly not be able to progress very far on a competitive basis. And yet business is far more complex than tennis. For a start there are no fixed rules and business takes place everywhere, not just in a well defined arena. Of course the modern tennis player needs to have PR skills, and legal advisors etc. But they shine on the court, not in a boardroom or a management meeting or across the negotiation table. To add to all this complexity a business person has so many options, which direction to take, career choices: expand or consolidate, raise more capital or sell? All these challenges need to be faced and tackled masterfully. So it is little wonder that successful business people surround themselves not only with their trusty advisors, but also a ‘life coach’ or Personal Advisor or even a guru to whom they refer when needed.
So why is it that we are surprised when we hear that a colleague follows a guru or has a personal advisor? Many of us think of it as absurd or even a sign of weakness. The fact that someone recognizes themselves as inadequate in some way and wants to overcome the issue is, to me, a sign of great strength and determination. In today’s world we need experienced professional advisors, not just friendly amateurs who tell us only what we want to hear, or who have a hidden agenda wrapped in jealousy or some other off the track ambition for us.
I recently met a man who was so impressive, who had achieved so much, so young, that he really blew my socks off. My lunch companion kept in his wallet his own personal mission statement, neatly written on a plasticized piece of paper. On the back he had written down a list of key words that gave his life meaning. Now if you think that is not that impressive, try this: The guy is just a little over thirty, he earns about 300KEuro per year, he recently sold a business he developed for a heap of cash, and he sold it only because it was getting in the way of his future plans. It had served its purpose and cashing it in saved him all the hassle of daily management of teams of staff and suppliers. Before he sold it, however, he realized he was facing some major decisions, so he took some time out to consider them carefully and to put his life into some kind of context. He stopped everything for six weeks, left his wife and family at home and went on an 800km walk across southern France and Spain, with nothing more than a simple rucksack.
Now my lunch companion is not going to become my new guru, but we did decide to turn to one another, when we need professional counseling and I have started reading the book he advised me to read ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin S. Sharma. The first pages seem very promising; I’ll let you know how I get on.
I am a personal advisor to many people and I believe I have been able to offer my clients solid advice that has very often helped them achieve increased self fulfillment and personal wealth. If you think the idea of a Personal Advisor is daft or unnecessary, then at least take some time out to ask yourself why it is you find the idea so un-attractive?
To repeat my opening question: "Who is your Guru?"