Last week, we introduced the concept of Guru Literacy and promised to follow-up with some questions to ask yourself regarding your guru and self-help events to help you stay aware of yourself and stay safe physically, emotionally and financially. When at an event, consider: * Is the schedule so packed that I do not have time to manage my basic needs to eat, sleep, drink, eliminate or take care of medical needs? The over-packed schedule or the locked door that restricts free movement begins to act on you like sensory deprivation, and may have you psychologically at the mercy of the leader. * Is the message being given “too good to be true”? Is the method offered “simple and easy”? As Dr. Norcross’s research has shown, real and sustainable life changes require planning, adopting new behaviors and skills, and dedicated, hard work. * Is the speaker pronouncing theories, interpretations and speculations as fact or science? A speaker needs to clearly delineate between opinion, fact and fiction. * Are trained, educated professionals, research and scientific methods mocked? A speaker may have a new insight or promote a program which may have benefited some individuals but has not undergone careful scrutiny. However, new ideas do not need to be promoted by bashing older, verified wisdom. * Am I comfortable with the manner in which products are being sold at the event? Are you hearing things like: “There is a limited amount of time to purchase the incredibly popular books, CDs.” “There is a limited number of places available for the next motivational event, so sign up immediately or lose out!” “There is a special deal for the next hour only, better get moving, if you are really serious about changing your life!” “Smart people keep learning and studying!” “Put your money where your mouth is, otherwise be a loser.” Having other products available for sale can be very helpful, but sending a message of scarcity and exclusivity or shaming people into purchase is manipulative. Ask yourself: is this person trying to help you, or just sell to you? * Am I able to ask questions or express an opinion contrary to the speaker? Am I uncomfortable or embarrassed at the treatment of participants by the leader? Can questions be asked freely without fear of being denigrated with clever sarcasm, judgmental or pejorative comments? Every participant is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. A motivational speaker should motivate, not denigrate. * Am I asked to sign a waiver quickly without time to read it, being told things like, “This is just a stupid formality…no worries”? Participants have a right to assurances of their safety, so when signing a waiver that indemnifies the leader of legal responsible for an accident, it is appropriate to inquire what the leader will do to minimize risks to your safety and what supports are available if there is accidental injury. WE ARE ALL SEEKERS. Most people consciously want to learn, grow and enjoy their lives. But growth has to be based on a strong and safe foundation. Every person is entitled to a safe environment and respectful treatment. BE SAFE to maximize your journey!