Why confident people on the stage
might not be best qualified to be your sage
If you’re interested in personal development, you’ve probably seen a few confident gurus, standing on a stage, selling their ideas.
But have you yet worked out which (if any) of these people … and more importantly, their ideas … are really worth following?
Being on a stage – does not make anyone a Sage
It might sound obvious but given the many thousands of people who get misled by ‘dodgy’ and dangerous ideas for personal development every year, I think this needs to be said …
No one is qualified to be your sage …
… just because they stand on a stage 😉
You need the best team behind you – to have the best chance of success.
So, who can you trust for guidance on your personal performance?
Who really ‘cares’ about helping you to fit the truths of your situation and ambition with the truths of the world?
Who really cares about the truth?
Well, it’s not necessarily someone who got lucky in life or in business as we saw here.
We all know that the world is full of fake news and misinformation, but we don’t always see all the people who get hurt by it.
And that’s because we’re often blinded by something called survivorship bias.
It’s quite simple really … most people tend to hide their mistakes.
So, we only see winners in games of chance.
The losers sneak away by the back door.
And we might believe, because they’ve hired themselves a stage (or been invited onto one by someone who has) that they are the authority on their subject matter.
But oh dear, how wrong this can be.
Watch out for the ‘care’ trap
Now here’s a clever trap that catches out a lot of people.
You see, most successful sales presenters know that it’s not really the content of their presentation, that engages and attracts us.
Indeed, too much, high-quality content can even get in the way of building trust with many audiences, especially those who are hungry for quick and easy answers.
What wins us over as an audience is whether we’re persuaded that the presenter really cares about us.
And once we’re ‘sold’ on that … we tend not to check their credentials (or the validity of their ideas) too carefully!
This is a very old idea – and is really just an extension of this brilliant observation from Roosevelt.
Or, as I tend to put it …
No one cares how much you know …
… as long as they think that you care!
And, sadly, a lot of snake oil sellers take advantage of this fact.
So, whether we’re working on our health, wealth or personal performance, we need to be on our guard to this trick.
We need to think harder about who we can trust for good guidance … and, in a nutshell, we need to follow the people whose work is grounded in evidence or solid science.
Of course, I’m not talking about rocket science here.
But it’s worth remembering what this rocket scientist said about the importance of science and ‘truth’.
Fake News is old News
Now, to get this in perspective, we’ve always had misinformation, and this issue was a lot worse in the past.
Let’s remember that our leaders used to burn people at the stake for trying to challenge the silly religious rules of the day!
Nowadays, it’s only a tiny minority of lunatics who kill people for refusing to follow a warped religious idea. And we’re hopefully now getting to grips with those groups.
Our wider but easier fights today are against fake news on other issues – where the risks of being misled are to our general health, wealth and well-being.
So, ‘fake news’ is nothing new.
It’s just easy to access in this digital age and we’re more aware of it because it’s a (relatively) new phrase.
That said, simply knowing that fake news exists … does not mean we know how to spot it.
And a great many people, quite clearly, still struggle with that.
Yes, we’re making some slow progress to educate people on the widespread nature of misleading information.
And the message is getting through to some extent.
The trust ratings for information provided by Social Media platforms have started to plummet …
… whilst the trust we put in real experts is on the up.
Let’s KILL these errors
Now when it comes to fake news, this sort of checklist can certainly help.
And I guess that’s the modern equivalent of Charles Darwin’s brilliant advice here.
But we still have a way to go.
Finding errors in information involves hard brain work … and that, as you might guess, is something we generally like to avoid 🙂
So, in 2019, in our, so called, ‘information age’ it turns out that we still have around 40% of the US population denying Darwin’s proven science of evolution.
So, yes, incredibly, in many US states today, they still teach their children that humans were placed onto the earth, in their present form, by God!
And when you’re taught this stuff at school (and at home) … it’s painful to accept that these ideas are untrue. So, you tend to hang on to those ideas longer than you should.
I don’t know about you … but I suspect Darwin would be shocked and saddened to learn about all this ☹
The good news and hope for the future
The good news is that we have a lot of intelligent people in our world.
People who ignore the stupidity, and the crooks and the misleading adverts and those attention-grabbing but misleading headlines in the press …
… and who quietly get on with the work of making the world a better place.
So, despite all that fake news noise, and the wars about who controls what and which religions we should follow …
… the world has made enormous progress over the past 200 years.
Here’s the evidence for this …
… and you’ll have gathered by now that I’m really keen on evidence 🙂
How have we made this progress?
Well, because we’ve used solid science …
… and whilst we still have plenty of problems in the world (including those of our own making – like global warming) I’m hopeful that we’ll find the technological (and behavioural solutions) to clear up the mess we’ve made in the world.
We just need to get over our ridiculous tribal belief based fighting.
And we certainly need to make the world a better place too … for our children and our children’s children.
And I don’t fancy the alternative – of escaping planet earth on a rocket ship to Mars with Elon Musk … do you? 😉
Which brings me nicely to an idea from Isaac Newton …
Let’s stand on the shoulders of giants
Isaac Newton, as you probably know, compiled (in his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) the laws of motion that eventually enabled us to put men on the moon and bring them back safely to earth.
This work from Newton was published more than 330 years ago in 1687.
But rather than delve into Newton’s physics let’s just take his advice on how to learn …
… and how to advance our understanding of all things – by standing on the shoulders of giants.
If we’re to take our personal performance and motivation seriously, Newton’s approach is essential.
We need to seek out the ideas of those (typically quiet) people who are the world’s leading experts in the subjects we’re studying.
And the really good news is this
The ideas of these world experts are much more accessible today than they ever were in the past.
You can read (or listen to) their brilliant books on their proven ideas …
… and you can even watch their TED and other talks online.
But you can only do this if you know the right people to follow …
… and they’re unlikely to be the ones you expect.
So, I’m not talking about the likes of Tony Robbins or Brendan Burchard or Rhonda Byrne (author of ‘The Secret’) or Esther (Abraham) Hicks here.
Goodness me no!
Indeed, the evidence about their work suggests a need for some very big wealth and health warnings.
You should certainly be aware that ‘just believing you can do it’ will not, necessarily, stop you burning your feet if you do the fire walk at one of Tony’s gigs 😊
And I’d certainly recommend that you avoid that ‘law of attraction’ idea.
It’s not just nonsense, it’s been proven to be ‘counterproductive’ for the very people it claims to help.
If we try to live our lives according to random sets of “beliefs and claims” that have NO basis in fact, we’re at serious risk of coming to more harm than good.
Sadly, this is what many tens of thousands of people do with their lives.
Why do we follow over confident gurus?
We do this because we’re ‘human’ … because of our natural but troublesome behavioural biases.
And, there are at least two of these biases are at work when we’re misled by a guru.
First, is our overwhelmingly strong tendency to follow the instructions of people we ‘believe’ to be in authority.
And the evidence on this is quite literally shocking.
Second, we like to follow people with super levels of confidence …
… and if you need evidence on that – just look at some of those silly ‘belief system’ leaders above (or some of our most powerful world leaders) 😉
Seriously, what else do some of these people have …
… other than an abundance of confidence?
Four real gurus worth following
Now, I really do want to help you achieve more which is why those words are in my logo.
But we can’t achieve more if we’re going to waste our time running down any of the many ridiculous idea rabbit holes that are being promoted out there today.
So, please just remember this:
No one has the right to be your sage, just because they’re confident or they stand on a stage!
Unless the ideas you follow have solid evidence to back them up, you risk wasting an enormous amount of your time and your money on them.
And I really don’t want you to do that.
Now, if this article has piqued your interest, try this next article in which I outline 3 simple ideas that might help you transform your personal performance for the better.
Of course, the ideas are based on solid evidence – and the works of world-leading authorities on personal performance.
… and I’d be really interested to know if you’ve heard of these ideas or of those experts.
… and please let me know what you think.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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