When there is an emptiness or lack of meaning in one’s life, the emotional part of the brain inevitably turns on. At this juncture in our lives, we look for groups or individuals that will give us a sense of security or instill in us some confidence. Given how emotional we are at this time, we could often be incorrect in our assessment of the gurus we seek for guidance. We tend to gravitate towards anyone who may make us feel better emotionally, or to those who may appear to be more confident and upbeat than us. Such people can very often be charlatans and benefit at the expense of our emotionally turbulent animal brains.
“We use the word “guru” because “charlatan” is too long to fit into a headline”
— Peter Drucker
We need to understand that troubled times make us feel helpless and bring back our tractable child brains. When we were kids, we would rush to our parents and teachers for support every time we were bullied or upset. For the most part, these mentors wanted the best for us. As we grow older, we are either no longer sheltered by the love we received from our parents or their advice may not be that valuable to us anymore. Hence, we seek out our own gurus. The death of religion has given rise to a large number of self-help gurus offering people advice. But are we picking the right mentors? And is it possible that we can delude ourselves into feeling better after listening to these motivational speeches, but never really bring about any actual change?
We live in rapidly changing times and there is a general sense of confusion in the air. Some people are worried about technology taking away their livelihood and no one really understands the direction in which the world is headed. These times have seen an extraordinary rise in motivational gurus claiming to change our mindset and give us a sense of direction and purpose in life. A lot of these gurus have no track record to show and are merely good at toying with our emotions. Everyone claims to want to help, but the truth is that this sort of help is transient and a crutch for solving the real problems we are facing.
Moreover, social media and the proliferation of entertainment often present a false picture of humanity. Our tendency to live in the virtual world is degrading our ability to judge a persons true character. We are being swayed by rah-rah motivational speeches that may be far from reality. Watching a motivational speech may be healing for our emotions in the short term but the problems will come back to haunt us almost immediately after. Taking the time to figure out our insecurities, fears and desires will be extremely helpful in the long run.
Look, I am by no means saying don’t seek help or therapy if you need it. I’m saying that 1) don’t rely on motivational speeches too much 2) learn to seek the right masters for help. Get off your phones and begin your journey of assessing and observing people’s true character. Look at their past accomplishments and cut through the noise in their speeches. Always be wary of people who avow to alter your life or bring you all the confidence you need. It doesn’t work that way and so much of the support has to be intrinsic.
With the rise in AI, it’s a possibility that a lot of our jobs may be taken away. Our sense of emptiness will be at all-time highs and we will see more motivational gurus spring up who will give us a false sense of security.
Prepare yourself for this future. Become self-reliant. Learn to assess people. And learn to re-invest yourself and let go of the past. Otherwise, the past will suck you in while the future marches on.