“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”
Okay, so we don’t want to literally kill anyone but what is a Zen parable doing in a business column? With the flood of information that we receive everyday from self-proclaimed business gurus, this expression is very relevant in the today’s business world. This parable means that if on your path to finding wisdom, you locate someone who calls himself or herself a prophet, then don’t listen to them because the real Buddha would not do this. In other words, true gurus don’t say they are.
Daily, we are bombarded with information from self-proclaimed business “gurus and ninjas.” Through e-mail, video and social media, we are asked to change the way we do business by following someone else’s advice. In fact, publishing “trusted” advice has never been easier. Through social media and blogging, every business person has followers and friends that potentially can amplify that information to their own group.
Unfortunately, most people are easily influenced by gurus promising quick riches, especially from business people who are already wealthy. Many of us want the “7 Steps to Success” so we can avoid the business uncertainty and hard work that usually accompanies success. Some of us think that being rich and then gaining wisdom naturally go together. But remember, not every player makes a good coach. Regardless of what a business “guru” states, you can’t follow the exact same path that others have. You can never take the same route that Bill Gates, Oprah, Donald Trump or J.K. Rowling took to financial success.
So who do you believe? First, ignore those who proclaim:
1. They are gurus, masters or ninjas (although, historically, a ninja is an assassin so why does this fit?). Remember the Zen parable.
2. They have a “guaranteed” path to success, and can make you a lot of money “overnight”. Most overnight successes takes seven to 10 years. Remember, things that are too good to be true…always are.
3. They have the only “proven” way to accomplish something. They don’t. The fascinating part about business is that there are many ways to get to the stated goal.
However, in order to learn in business, it is still important to get business advice from a variety of sources. I listen daily to people like Chris Brogan, Tim Sanders and Keith Ferrazzi. The key is to listen to their advice and then adapt it to your individual business situation. How does their advice apply or not apply to you? If you look at the problem from their point of view, do the available solutions change? If their advice changed your business perspective, then they have been successful in helping you.
Who to follow:
1. Pick three to five business leaders to follow. It is impossible to learn from, or follow, everyone.
2. Read their e-mails and posts for three months. Be patient. We can learn more by following a few business people consistently over time than getting random advice from dozens of people.
3. Rotate one out every three months to get introduced to new ideas and perspectives.
4. Pick fewer than 100 people to follow on Twitter in a separate TweetDeck or HootSuite column. This will give you a sample of new future business leaders to know.
The difficulty in improving your business by following gurus is that none of them have all the answers, but many of them have some of them. Listen and learn which of their advice can improve your business and which advice almost never applies.
Image credit: Chad Hunter