By Barry Maher
When I tell audiences they need to be their own guru, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pick up every idea they can from whomever they might be able to pick it up from. We need to pick up everything we can, but pick up nothing unquestioned.
Question authorities, question gurus. Stephen Covey was certainly one of our most successful business gurus–and quite possibly one of the best. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has sold nearly 13 million copies. At one point he was advising 82 of the top 100 companies in America on how to run their businesses. Then he teamed up with Hyrum W. Smith, the guru who created the Franklin Day Planner. Who’s also a best-selling author.
I mean, talk about guru wonderland: here’s a guy who in the 1980s talked every yuppie in America into lugging around 40 pound appointment books that they had to take a course to use.
Covey and Smith said that they were going to apply their expertise to make their company a model for industry.
According to BusinessWeek, “ It turned out to be a model all right: of bloated bureaucracy, poor planning, and internal bickering, turning Franklin Covey Co. into a poster child for highly ineffective organizations.”
It’s easier to say than to do. Are you familiar with Weiler’s Law? Weiler’s Law says that nothing is impossible for those who don’t have to do it themselves.
In 2001, the business gurus at Fortune magazine awarded the coveted title of most innovative company in America to . . . Enron.
Success magazine is a publication chocked full of tips for success from all the country’s leading business gurus. Success magazine of course went out of business. I don’t know if the advice wasn’t any good or if they just weren’t listening to their own gurus. I can’t get too cocky about this though, since I was one of those gurus. In fact, they still owe me for the last article I wrote for them. Obviously neither the article nor the advice in it did much for Success magazine.
Question the best. Question authorities. Question the flavor of the month. Question me.
Question conventional thinking. Earl Nightingale said, “Whatever the majority of people is doing under any given circumstances, if you do the exact opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live.”
Question conventional thinking. Question Earl.
Question accepted wisdom. Art Hammer is an idea expert. His company helps businesses generate, refine and test ideas for improving their processes. Art has empirically tested hundreds of thousands of ideas. Art says, “What we have consistently discovered is that whenever everyone involved unanimously agrees an idea is going to help, a quarter of the time it will improve results, half the time it will have no effect and a quarter of the time it will actually hurt.”
Be your own guru.
Then don’t forget to question yourself.
Does Your Meeting Need More Motivation than Just a Motivational Speaker Can Deliver?