Be a teacher rather than a guru
“Good teachers produce skeptics who ask their own questions and find their own answers.”
I harness this quote from Russell L. Ackoff. It reflects what I have always been trying to do: helping people think and find new options for themselves, their teams and their organizations by providing them with new material, insights, questions.
But that’s not always easy. Sometimes I have to gift wrap my teachings as cookbooks, plans, or scripts to get them across. In the end, my message is clear though: success isn’t guaranteed unless you make it so. Please try and then change what you have been given.
Yet Ackoff adds another line to his quote: “Gurus produce only unquestioning disciples”.
Are you guilty of preaching absolute truths?
Are you guilty of reselling absolute truths after they have been passed on to you?
Are you guilty of not reaching your full potential by utterly sticking to something you believe is true?
I know I was. At times I have been acting like a guru, utterly believing the crap that left my mouth and littered my Powerpoint slides. Until I learned to question myself and my beliefs.
Questioning ourselves isn’t easy. Changing our minds even less so. We tend to hang on to something when it matches our world view and fulfills our cravings. More importantly, we don’t want to admit we are wrong. We even prefer to not even consider that option. Our brain is wired to be on the defense by default. We love to be right!
Changing our minds therefore takes a lot of courage. A good teacher know that and helps us find the wisdom to even consider an alternative truth, which is then ours to further investigate. A guru knows it too, but takes advantage by targeting our doubts, fears, self image, and self respect. A guru converts us to small minded followers who fiercly oppose conflicting points of view.
Find a teacher instead of worshipping a guru. Be a teacher instead of a guru. We are smart enough to recognize the difference.