Saturday, 11 February 2012

Call yourself a Guru ? - I wouldn't !

We Brit’s have a real problem when it comes to shouting about what our successes are or what we have overcome to achieve our outcomes. It’s not what we are brought up to do and so understatement is the order of the day. (Oddly it is the exact opposite in my sons world of disability, where each and every success is celebrated.)

This society driven recalcitrance can lead to failure to be recognised as a leader, a key influential person or as having superior ability/understanding in your field. It also leads to those few who do stand up to be counted being shot at by the traditionalists who feel it is “not the done thing.”

This negative reaction is often based on occasions where someone has not only championed their achievements, but also consciously set themselves above their piers. This they have done through their own words. They have had the audacity to lay claim to be an authority, by use of a tag like guru.

I've always struggled with the term Guru in a business sense. To me, like many others, it indicates a serious level of understanding and commitment in religious beliefs; as such I feel that is where it should be left. I am not alone in this belief if responses to my recent Question on Linked In are anything to go by.

For the record I am not saying religion has no place in business, far from it, to me the concepts of true networking and joint venturing and sound business practice, can be found in the majority of religions, but I do feel more care needs to be taken when loosely attributing titles to individuals.

Many of the terms being used are pretentious and lacking in creativity; terms such as evangelist, tsar, expert, master, ninja, wizard for example. Some people go a whole step further and will claim to be “World most reputable......” In all these cases we should all be asking on what basis? Who voted you this status? Who elected you? What are their credentials to do so? The same with someone calling themselves “worldwide respected .....” which parts of the world actually knows about them and what gave them the idea that others, who are a part of this worldwide community, have an idea who they are ?

There are some “BIG” names in the world of Businesses Information; for example Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracey, Michael Gerber some growing ones; like Brendon Bruchard and Seth Godin, and some just coming out of the starting blocks; such as Daniel Priestly and Paul Avins. None to my knowledge have at any time laid claim to any “title”. Others may have applied them, but they have not sought to expand on such adulation. In addition trial those names outside the business world and unlike say David Beckham, Glenda Jackson, Sir Winston Churchill etc the vast majority of the world’s population will just look at you blankly.

It is fine to have others regard you as a leader in your field, to place a crown on your head, but as a leader you should show humility and not by your own choice place yourself on the throne.

It is fine for leaders to celebrate their success and achievements, but it is not for leaders to say how good they are through claiming a title, it is for others to recognise this and say so for you. Honours should be awarded by others, not taken for oneself.

There is more on this around the British attitude to success and achievement, but for now lets stop there and as always please leave a comment, a thought or a challenge.


  1. You are, and forever will be to me, and believe me this is no exaggeration, so don't be modest, the greatest, the most talented, the most messianic, insightful expert called Ben Jackson of Horizon's and Futures in Bicester in the whole world.

    1. Cheers Mr Instone. I have posted Ayd's comment as it seemed highly appropriate to the blog tpic and in the hope it will draw out more. For reference Horizons & Futures is a B2B magazine in Oxfordshire I publish and have written for/edited as well. It can be found on

  2. If you think you're an expert/master/guru you should set out to prove it by your actions, not make it your strapline. Agree with all you've said here, Ben.