We’re All Human, Even the Self-Proclaimed Gurus

Quite frankly, I hope nobody considers me a guru. I’m actually a teacher, but I’ve never claimed to be uber spiritual, or an expert at anything. In fact, truth be told, I suck at half the crap I write about. We’re all human, even the gurus.

Throughout my years of blogging, I’ve written about leadership, success, minimalism, productivity and more. But I’m going to be blatantly honest. I don’t always practice what I preach.

The Internet Is Full of Self-Proclaimed Gurus

Maybe that’s why I quit trying to sell people shit. Maybe once we claim our newsletter, our training, our book, or our anything else will solve your problems, we’re taking on the personas of self-proclaimed gurus. And dammit, I don’t want that kind of responsibility. That, and perhaps I’m a little bit too honest.

Here’s my recent track record on some of the stuff I write about on my blog:

  • Diet: Currently, my diet sucks. I eat out several times a week, often crap.
  • Exercise: So the pandemic screwed up my momentum, but I’ve rarely done more than simply walk a mile or two a day for months.
  • Morning Routine: I’ve been sleeping until seven or eight lately.
  • Writing: I’m lucky to write a couple thousand words a week.
  • Reading: Maybe, I’ve read three books this year. Maybe.
  • Minimalism: I get rid of shit regularly, but then I buy more.

Has it always been this way? Am I a compulsive liar?

No. I’m human.

Like everybody else, my motivations wax and wane. Yes, I have eaten more healthy at times. Yes, I’ve exercised more vigorously. I’ve gotten up at 5:00am for months, even years, and got stuff done. I’ve written several books, ebooks, and hundreds of poems. I’ve read hundreds, maybe thousands of books in my lifetime. And I still have less crap than most people I know. But I don’t live up to everything that I write about. And it’s not just due to COVID-19.

Which Leads Me to this Question…

Maybe I’ve just become a cynical old fuck, but if I don’t always live up to what I’m preaching, what are the chances that the thousands of self-proclaimed gurus across the blogosphere are?

I mean come on, do you really think everyone who writes about minimalism lives in a perfectly neat home with the exact right number of items? Do you really think those perfect-parent bloggers never have problems with their own kids? And do you think the bloggers that are selling you success would be successful if you weren’t buying their books? The answer is a big fat NO.

We’re all human. We all have problems. This week I might not be eating right, but I’ve been practicing the crap out of my guitar. Maybe I haven’t exercised for months, but I got back into the dojo as soon as it reopened. I’m human. And so are all the self-proclaimed gurus.

I’ve said before that I rarely follow others’ blogs. I’ve only signed up for a handful of newsletters, and I’m usually sorry I did. And only once have I signed up for any kind of online training. It was Zen Habits: Sea Change. And I didn’t do it to gain some kind of profound knowledge from Leo Babauta. I signed up to see how he organized and ran his online program while doing research to start my own program. I quit Sea Change after my first month.

You Only Get What You Want to Get

I put my own program together based on Zen Habits. But I never pulled the trigger. After letting it sit for about nine months, I deleted all that work.


Because I’m not your guru. I’m nobody’s guru. And nobody should be your guru either. Especially if they’re a self-proclaimed guru. (And I’m not taking shots at Leo, I think he’s honestly trying to help others, and I’ve never seen him claim to be a guru.)

Yet in a sense, anyone who is charging you money to follow their advice is making claim to knowing more about a given topic than you do. But even when we follow those self-proclaimed gurus, we only get what we want to get out of any given blog, book, or program.

Face it. The reason many people throw hundreds, even thousands of dollars away on self-help is simple. They’re not satisfied with their lives. But how many of those same people really become successful after taking one course after another from the Internet’s finest? I know from an inside source that the number is very, very low.

Because all most of us really want is to just feel better about ourselves. Hell, if you really want to become a minimalist, just do it for fucks sake. You don’t need 15 books and seven courses. Want to write a book? Then write one, one page at a time. Want to succeed? You already are as long as you’re doing the things you want in life. You don’t need self-proclaimed gurus.

Really. You don’t.