On my way to rediscovering myself, I took quite a number of detours. One of my biggest stumbling blocks was my repetitive pattern of what I would call “Guru Syndrome”: believing that there was someone out there with THE answers to all of my questions. I imagined that if I could follow in this person’s footsteps, I too would have the success, peace, relationships, and joy that I perceived this other person to have.
What I discovered, however, is that things sometimes aren’t as they seem…
Early on in my career as a Holistic Nutritionist, I met a brilliant man who was a self-proclaimed guru. He told me that I “must” learn from him and that he would help me learn what I needed to for my career to take off.
I focused and determined, and within a year of taking his workshops, I had moved from student to teaching assistant and then to offering private coaching and group training sessions of my own.
When I first started working with his company, I noticed how people fawned all over my mentor and I was determined not to do the same. I admired his work, and was committed to using my knowledge and what I had learned from him to help others, but I didn’t want to have to demean myself to do it.
As I worked with his team, it got harder and harder to fight the pull of the “in-crowd.” I lived in a different city than everyone else, which made it a bit easier to separate myself from the crowd.
The more I was around my mentor and those that worked with him; the more I realized that things were not what they appeared to be. Like The Wizard of Oz, there was a carefully constructed facade that was shown to the crowd that was a far cry from the reality behind the scenes.
I was asked to help uphold this veil of illusion, despite my discomfort, and often found myself defending my mentor’s words and actions to others. This became harder and harder as time went on.
I really believed that the work that I was doing was helping others – and it was. When I began to help students understand their strengths and empower them to do things in their own way, it caused friction between my mentor and I. I was instructed to teach only HIS way and told that people weren’t smart enough to do it on their own. There were a lot of disparaging remarks given about the people who worked for him and those that were his customers.
In terms of business values, as well as common respect for other people, we were definitely at odds. I continued to make excuses for him, hoping that if I worked hard enough, I could make a difference in the company and perhaps give him a new appreciation for those that he was supposedly serving.
Eventually, things came to a head and I simply could not bear it anymore. I was at the point where I could no longer work with him without risking my own integrity, which is something I simply would not do. I very politely thanked him for everything he had taught me and the opportunities I had been given, and told him that I felt it was time I went out on my own.
Needless to say, he did not take it well. The ensuing months were hell as he tried to undermine and discredit me with all of our mutual contacts. I suffered immensely as I felt the loss of my mentor, many colleagues (I was no longer in the in-crowd) and my confidence.
It took me quite a while to overcome this feeling of betrayal and pick myself back up. I could not comprehend how someone who had seemed so “enlightened” could do something so cruel. I also felt that I had betrayed myself. I had seen the warning signals, but I had not listened to them. I had let myself down by not walking away sooner.
With a lot of personal reflection and the help of a good counsellor, I began to pick myself back up and regain my self-confidence. I was able to acknowledge my role in the situation without taking sole responsibility for all of it (a common side-effect of “Guru Syndrome”).
As I started to rebuild my business, I was able to do so on my terms, following the my own values system and inner compass. It was hard, but I felt free for the first time in a long time.
The Second Type of Guru
In contrast to the first type of guru, who are desperately seeking followers to prop them up, there is a second type of guru that I have encountered. These are the unintentional gurus who are truly in the service of helping humanity without ego need or selfish desires for material gain. These individuals thrive on helping others succeed, and want what is best for the world, not simply themselves.
These types of gurus stand in their power, they know who they are, and they are here to show us that we, too, can stand in our power and shine our light. When we look at this type of guru, we can see our own light reflected back at us. It is this type of guru that can really make us soar!
I have had the privilege of knowing a few of these individuals as well. What strikes me most about them is how approachable they are. When I have had the opportunity to meet with them face to face, they treated me as if I was someone of value, as if I had worth. They treated me with kindness and respect and encouraged me to find my own path. They honoured my journey and who I was, and they said “find your path.”
Two such mentors to me are Peggy Phoenix Dubro, discoverer of the Universal Calibration Lattice and originator of the EMF Balancing Technique and Gabrielle Bernstein, New York Times Best Selling Author and founder of the world renowned Spirit Junkie Masterclass.
I have had the opportunity to meet with each of these Teachers individually and personally, and what I have been impressed with is their ability to be real, imperfect, honest, and completely committed to their faith and practice. They are both deeply committed to helping others uncover their unique gifts and to share them with the world.
From these two powerful women, I have overcome my guru syndrome. I now understand the a true guru doesn’t look for followers, they look for people who will be moved by their work and become empowered to teach and serve the world in their own way.
I honour the great work of these Teachers, and I know that they honour mine. How can I be so certain? Because they told me so! And I didn’t even have to sell my soul to get their endorsement….
Qualities of a good Mentor / Teacher
- They practice what they preach
- They are invested in your personal growth and success
- They inspire you to become more of who you are (not who they think you should be)
- They encourage you to seek your own path and be your authentic self
- They celebrate your successes with you, whether or not it affects them directly
- They respect your views and allow you to speak your truth
- They have healthy boundaries – they respect your personal space as well as their own
- They reflect your own greatness back to you
Stay tuned for the part 3 of this blog series coming next week!