How to Get a Guru – when you need one (part 1 of 3)

Successful people always look to others who are equally or more successful in certain arenas to help them improve. They know how to tap into resources when needed. We all have those areas in our lives where we could use a little help. I talk to people all the time who are struggling with their weight, health, careers, finances and relationships. The saddest part of what I hear is that they feel alone in their struggles. They often don’t even know how to break free from the endless cycle of their suffering.

But surprisingly, people often balk at the idea of assistance. Lately, even I have been asking myself, “why don’t I hire an interior decorator?” After ten years in my house, I still don’t have any pictures on the wall. It’s ridiculous! Clearly I can’t make house decorating decisions on my own. I need help. It makes me wonder, why, if there are so many people out there willing to lend a hand, don’t we allow them?

What we all need is a guru! Someone who’s not attached to outcome and who can see a clear course of action before any steps are taken. When we talk gurus, I know you might be imagining an old spiritual shaman holed up in a mountain cave somewhere far, far away. Does he look like this?

guruWell, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Sure, a Hindu spiritual guide is one definition of a guru, the one most people are familiar with. But today, we are surrounded by useful gurus all over the place. In every area of our life, we have easy access to leaders, teachers, advisers and experts. Anyone, through guidance and advice, can help make you a better person, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, even financially. When you hire a person for their expert advice, you’re essentially hiring a guru. Your fitness trainer, your financial adviser and your dietitian all provide specific guidance and offer tools to improve your ability to tackle certain areas of your life.

If you’ve been considering lately how you might increase your income, get in better shape, improve your golf game or communicate more clearly with your boss, help is just a stone’s throw away. Getting a guru takes a lot of willingness and a strong desire to improve. Having about a dozen gurus who I rely on regularly, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the matter, so I’ve compiled a little advice on how to get a guru when you need one.

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1. Be willing to compensate others for what they share. Now, not all gurus cost money or are expensive. Take a look around you at the people you know. In whatever area you want to improve in, ask yourself, who do I know that does this really well. For example, I use my sister for career advice and my brother for financial guidance. They both make good decisions in these areas and both will answer my questions for FREE! Be wiling to reciprocate. I also have three fitness gurus who cost me only the price of an hour group class – choose well in this area and it’s a real bargain. But, when it comes to things that matter most to you, be selective and be prepared to pay for the best. I take private dance lessons and as you probably guessed, anything “private” costs more. But dance is a huge part of my life and I’m willing to invest in high quality instruction to be the best dancer I can be in this lifetime.

ManyQuestions 2. Give up on the idea that you know everything. People who refuse to turn to others for a leg up because they think they know better are the very same people who end up complaining about their lack of mobility. We all know the person who never has a dime even though they make a six figure income, all the while moaning about needing a better job, one that pays more. Maybe instead, they need to admit they don’t make the best decisions with the money they already have. I say, stop whining and hire a financial adviser!

3. Give up control. It’s amazing how often someone will pay good money for advice and then turn around and do the complete opposite of what they’re told! father-daughter-surf-1024x679The biggest, fastest improvements in your life happen when you give up control of what obviously has NOT been working for you (if it was, you wouldn’t be paying someone for guidance). Sometimes all that’s needed is seeing your problems through a different lens, someone else’s.

wrong4. Get comfortable with being WRONG! Because that’s the first thing your guru is going to tell you—all of the things that are wrong with your life. At least that’s how it’s going to sound to you if you’re not used to asking for feedback on your choices. The good news is that most gurus aren’t into judging you or your decisions. They’re into looking ahead at what can be different (and better) for you. Swallow your pride and trust that.

5. Be willing to act in a new way. fish riskTaking advice and doing something new comes with risks. Admitting you don’t know everything or you don’t know what’s best for you, giving up control of your life, facing the possibility of failure and being wrong all prevent us from reaching out to others. Even when we do, following through on their advice can feel crazy and completely outside of our judgment. But taking a chance is how people discover how great they really can be. Your guru believes in you enough to put you up to a higher task. You need to believe enough to try.

need othersWe weren’t put on this planet of some 7 billion people so we could “go it alone.” There’s good reason why we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. We are designed to need each other. And that my friend is a very good thing to need.

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