The End of “Guru-dom”

I’m not a “guru”—never hoped to be, never wanted to be—never will be.


In its “formal” sense, the term “guru” has been defined as:

  • a preceptor giving personal religious instruction
  • an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader
  • a person who counsels or advises; a mentor
  • a leader in a particular field

The “formal” or historical sense of a “guru” as a preceptor, guide, advisor, mentor, or leader I can live with; it’s the current implications and use and overuse of the term I choose to live without.

In the now “common” or prevailing sense of the word, “guru” has been used by clever marketers, slick salespeople, prodigious product-sellers, and sometimes hucksters or charlatans as a way to say “I know way more than you so you should listen to me, obey me, follow me, or want to be like me” without hesitation or reservation. It’s the old “you too can be just like me if only you do what I have done (and I’ll sell you the product, formula, or secret to show you how—buy now).”

Bullshit! (please forgive my bluntness)

People speak of “gurus” in business, relationships, life, and in spirituality as if they alone are “the lone keeper of the secrets” and are the unquestionable authorities on how to live, love, be, and do in every area of life, love, bliss, or business. To me, a guru is a teacher and a conveyor and purveyor of knowledge, a true guru understands the gift is in the message and not the messenger.

I’ve been a “student” as far back as I can remember; I’ve been in business for a long time (30 years plus), and been alive a lot longer (well, not that much longer). While I’ve had a significant number of mentors, a wide-array of personal and professional advisors, and learned from and have been associated with tons of people I respect, love, and admire, I’ve yet to find the one person who knows it all, has-it-all, and “is-it-all”—no matter the field of expertise or experience.

Yep, I’ve met plenty of experts, dozens and dozens of people with more knowledge, experience, and expertise than me. I have a high regard for many, if not most of them. I appreciate their information, I respect their accomplishments, and love to learn from their experience and expertise but at the end-of-the-day, it comes down to this: knowledge is valuable, but wisdom is priceless.


Knowledge and information may come from “with-out”; wisdom comes from “within”.

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My aim here isn’t to attack any “sage on the stage” or any “prophet in a package”. My message is intended for you to realize, remember, and reclaim your personal power and your ability to recognize your own unique gifts, treasures, and talents to do, be, and have what it is you want through your own innate greatness and unique abilities. Any message is meaningless unless you and you alone do what needs to be done, the best way you know or learn how to do regardless of the messenger. To expect, demand of or blindly defer to a “guru” is a surrender of your own power and the abandonment of the potential alchemy of your unique skill and spirit.

Truth be told, I make my living as a ‘teacher”, advisor, speaker, and consultant; but as anyone knows who has been to one of my programs I make a critical distinction—it’s never about how great I am (or not) as a presenter or mentor, it’s about how great they (the participants) can be and will be in-part because of what I share but most importantly what they can and will do as a result of their experience in our collaborative relationship and our time invested together.

I’ve been blessed by my opportunities to have worked with and learned from some of the greatest minds and experts on the planet—for that, I’m forever grateful. But my success (or limitations thereof) is not a reflection of the “gurus” or guides or as a sole result of what they shared—it comes down to what I do, did, or didn’t with that experience and the wisdom I’ve gained from what I apply.

Your success is a direct result of not just what you learn, and certainly not about who you learn it from; it’s about what you do. But before you can truly learn you must question—is what I say, or whatever anyone else professes, confesses, or conveys “true for you”—that is the beginning of wisdom in my humble opinion as a “non-guru”. Take what is useful, apply it the best way you see fit, and leave the rest.




Tags: Spike Humer, Oprah Winfrey, Change, Goals, Decisions, Motivation, Success, Achievement, Mentors, Learning, Self-growth, Leadership

by on Aug.27, 2009, under Spike Humer

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5 Comments for this entry

  • Alexander Kitingan

    Not only are you one of the exemplary pesonas who exude humility but your willingness to share your wisdom and experience exceeds expectations. This is another wonderfully insightful post and throughly enjoy your perspectives.
    As always it is our hope that people can and do reach and achieve as high as they desire. And realise the personal power each one has.
    Thanks for being such a great mentor with Jay.
    blessings and abundance

  • Mwangi

    To add a bit of an alternative perspective that has been swirling around in my head, but that I haven’t fully crystallized yet:
    I once heard someone say that whenever people are choosing which religion or faith they should follow it usually doesn’t come down to a matter of what is the best principle but who someone feels they can trust.
    This idea carries a lot of weight to me because it would explain why children tend to follow the religion of the parents. It also explains why churches invest so much into creating social groups for people who are coming in but not of the faith.

  • tone

    hello spike,
    great article, dude. I tell people that “the Guru is inside You!” Direct experience is Wisdom’s way.
    keep on shinin’!

  • Ryan Nickel

    This was great and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that I need that “silver bullet” or “magic potion” to help my business grow and at the end of the day, I had the answer all along. So true, thanks Spike!

  • Frederic LeCharron

    I decided to check you out after receiving an e-mail from Jay Abraham today.
    And I have to say… this is a refreshing surprise!
    As someone once told me : “Nothing is greater or lesser than the self”.
    I know you do not want to impress me, but you did ;-)
    Be well.

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