At Seek Safely, we believe the journey of self discovery and improvement through proactive self-help is a beautiful thing. But we’d also like to encourage SEEKers to practice Guru Literacy. What do we mean by this? Guru Literacy is the examination of approaches used by self-help professionals that may become manipulative when used in the extreme. Just as we’ve all become aware of manipulative practices advertisers use to get us to buy more stuff, we need to become aware of these practices in the self-help industry so that we can feel confident in our teachers and stay safe on our journey. A motivational speaker by definition is intended to excite and energize their audience. Motivational speakers are charismatic, attractive, sound intelligent and offer inspiration. Many of us are trusting by nature. But we have to use our intelligence and critical thinking skills to assess whether a teacher is worthy of our continued trust. Experience has shown that how a leader/teacher/speaker appears in their presentations may not be who they truly are. How can you know the character of the speaker? How can you know if that person actually believes and practices the lessons being taught? Is it possible to be able to ascertain the intent and motivation of the speaker? Can one descifer effective marketing strategies from an honest desire to help others? How might one distinguish opinion from verifiable science? I’m not sure. However, I do know that unless a seeker is prepared to pay careful attention at the event, knows in advance some of the “tricks of the trade”, is free to ask intelligent questions and have the courage to challenge the teacher, one may get swept up in the atmosphere of the event and the enthusiasm of the other participants. Being in a positive high energy environment where everyone is smiling and clapping is intoxicating. However, when that small internal voice is signaling caution, listening to one’s own intuition becomes very important. In our next post, we will discuss some of the questions you need to ask and red flags you should be aware of in order to build your Guru Literacy, distinguish hype from help, and stay safe on your journey.