Well…. Let’s keep rising questions about this….
The main source of income for renowned gurus isn’t the number of people who attend their courses; it’s the number of people who come back, who return again and again for their regular dose of motivation, for their psychological tranquilizer.
Tony Robbins uses as a metaphor the ability to walk on burning coals, and it does make for a great show, with the 3,000 participants able to try the experience themselves. The metaphor has a hidden message, a good message really: “If you can walk on fire, you can do anything you decide to do in your life.” But instead of taking that message home with them and doing something with their lives, people prefer to come back year after year to the same seminar to walk on fire again.
The organizers happily sell them T-shirts that say: “I’ve walked on fire 5 times (or 10 times, or 20 times),” and participants wear them with pride. They could just as well be wearing a T-shirt that says, “I’ve come 10 times; I’ve spent thirty thousand dollars, and I still don’t get it.” Psychological tranquilizers, chicken soup for the soul.
Bock on the year 2005 (before the real estate bubble plops), selling the idea that you can be rich without any effort was a cool thing to do. The whole movement started in the 70’s with books such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and has nonsensically moved on to a glut of titles ranging from Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki to Trump: How to Get Rich by Donald Trump. The most often-quoted “experts” are the ones who pass along the keys that will make you rich quick, without any effort, without any investment . . .well, except for a small charge of $1,200 to $5,000 for seminars and books.
Gurus where everywhere. That year, the real estate trade show in Los Angeles attracted more than 40,000 people with the slogan “One Weekend Can Make You a Millionaire!” Gurus such as Robert Kiyosaki, Ron LeGrand, and Mark Victor Hansen congregated to convince attendees, that with no investment and almost as if by magic, they could become millionaires, following real estate purchasing and selling techniques. People stood, almost ecstatic, when one of the lecturers shouted,
“Working from 9 to 5 is only for losers! Who here wants to keep going day after day to the same old job and the same old boss?”
People screamed wildly in anticipation of the chance to make millions. It doesn’t matter to the organizers of such events that more than 90% of the participants depend on that job behind a desk to be able to provide for their families and pay their bills. No one says to people during these seminars that in the real estate industry you have to survive 100 “nearly made it” sales before you realize one actual sale. That the investment in advertising, promotion, and time can be substantial. That many of those present at the event don’t have the training or knowledge to make advantageous transactions with professionals, experts and banks, much less have the stomach to carry out a cutthroat deal when the target is a poor, bankrupt widow, and it means buying her house at an unfair price, or taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune.
No one tells them that they can end up losing everything they have, and that nothing about it is easy. On the contrary, if it were so easy, the gurus would be hording the secrets and quietly making their millions in real estate themselves.
What’s the name of the game? They take advantage of people’s naivety? of their lack of planning? of their need for dreams? The sale of air and empty fantasies luxuriously dressed up as seminars and audio books continue.
Larissa Belliveau (MONEY magazine June 2005 p.138 – article: No money down mania) quit her job at Xerox in order to devote herself 100% to real estate, after listening to a seminar by Glen Purdy: “He has a brilliant way of converting people, getting them exited”. All told, Larissa studied under five gurus and three coaches, spending $75,000 on classes, materials and marketing – nearly all of it in credit – card debt that she hasn’t paid off. All this effort trying to assemble the necessary information for her to regain the standard of living she’d had in her 9-to-5 job. “I have no problem paying for what works,” she says. “But I spent so much money with them. I did everything they said, and it didn’t work.”
The system and life itself goad us to look desperately for shortcuts and secret pathways that will lead us to success. To a success that we know nothing about – neither what it is like, nor how it smells – absolutely nothing. We don’t know how to identify it or how to try to get a feeling for it. As a result, in Larissa’s case, and in fact, most cases, all this pre-packaged motivation only generates a lot of frustration.
We cannot begin the search if we don’t know exactly what we are searching for.
“One evening, one man approached another who was standing under a streetlight, bent as if he were looking for something on the ground. The first one asked the second,
• Have you lost something, sir? Can I help you?
The second man, obviously desperate, told the first that he had lost the key to his house. Hearing that, the first man got down on his hands and knees to help him search.
After 20 minutes of searching carefully with no results, the first man said,
• Are you sure you dropped it here?
The second man answered:
• No, I dropped it two streets up.
Surprised by his answer, the first man said, rather angrily,
• So what the hell are we doing here?
• There’s more light here, answered the man calmly, while he resumed his search under the streetlight.
It seems incredible to me that such a short and popular word like “success” could have caused and continues to cause so many social and individual misunderstandings. Maybe this searching for success is something like the search for El Dorado, the mythical Incan city of gold, and the word is nothing more than a myth, rather than something real and palpable. Maybe what we are searching for as a society or as individuals is not what we have labeled as success.
Maybe what we are really searching for is within our grasp, as in love between a couple, or the satisfaction of seeing your son or daughter raised to be an honest person.
It’s in the ordinary details, the good hot bath or the ball game with the kids, the coffee with a good friend. Details that we usually overlook because we’re too worried about achieving . . . success.
Now that that’s been said, l won’t try at all to tell you how to be successful or happy. I don’t intend to be so vain or foolish as to claim that I possess such secrets. I only want to speak frankly, open my heart, and share my ideas and opinions with you. Read them; criticize them; question them, and draw your own conclusions. Let’s speak frankly, but I cannot assure you that as we move through these pages, one or more misunderstandings won’t arise.