After seeing Enlighten Us and writing a blog on my thoughts about the documentary, I remembered that I had written the post below back in early 2012 for my other blog site. For the record the “guru” in this blog is NOT James Arthur Ray, but he did also appear in the movie, The Secret.
I found the Law of Attraction (LOA) at a time in my life when I needed to better understand who had the power (me) to make things happen in my life. This is a universal truth, but one that many of us are not taught growing up and fail to learn without decades of failures and repeated bumping of our noses against walls that we believe others have placed in our way.
As noted in a previous LOA blog, early on I was a skeptical true-believer. Since watching The Secret, which thankfully began my journey to other resources, many with more depth, I have come to understand that The Secret was wonderfully successful in marketing a complex and powerful message to the masses, but its message was incomplete. When I realized this, I went searching for deeper meaning and along the way, became fans of some of the people introduced in the movie, as well as some who were not.
Like most who become enchanted by the teachings, I have spent money on books, movies, calendars and other items to further my learning journey, but have traditionally eschewed the more expensive offerings often hawked by some of the LOA “teachers” that came out from every corner after The Secret’s success. I always felt, on a deeper level, that achieving the goals you set for yourself was not something that you could BETTER learn at a $5,000 seminar, an $8,000 cruise or an $11,000 year of coaching. In addition, while I’m all for manifesting money and wealth, I heard the message at a deeper level and believed it to be a total life solution, and not a “get rich quick” scheme. So many of the newly-famous LOA teachers were focused on wealth attainment, with a few mumbles here and there about peace, happiness and quality of life that their credibility, for me, was questionable. Still, I had my favorites from the LOA crowd – those whom I had determined were genuine; not falling into the “get rich quick scheme” category, where the only one getting rich was the person selling the lame PDF downloads with promises of instant life changes.
I began to receive email from sites I had visited seeking inspiration, enlightenment or a new meditation technique. Most of these are deleted upon arrival, but I do have a few old favorites that I always scan or read through before deleting. Last year, one of my favorites sent out an invitation for a free hour of strategic coaching. It was advertised as a Thank You to all the founder’s many supporters and in celebration of a company milestone. I’ve been intrigued by the concept of coaching and there’s nothing like a free coaching session when you’re mid-career transition. I was initially hesitant, given my previous suspicion of some of the products sold in this space, but I rationalized: “it’s free, no obligation and the person/organization offering this is someone I have always viewed as legitimate…”
I scheduled my “free” call, cleared my calendar, did the suggested self-analysis prior to the call, took some notes and anxiously awaited my coaching session. The phone rang – this was IT! I was either going to be very disappointed; or find a new perspective on things and perhaps even a new approach to life.
The call began in a very friendly manner. “Sam” (not his real name, and NOT the head guru) introduced himself and asked me to tell him a little more about myself. I obliged and we quickly moved to the goals I had set for the coming year, which included reaching out on my own in some business ventures.
As I described my goals and expressed my enthusiasm for reaching them, Sam became a little aggressive.
“What is stopping you from achieving these goals, right now?” he demanded. His tone was like your meanest teacher from high school who was looking for homework that was already 2-weeks late.
I was a little confused, but didn’t want to get bitchy right away, so I asked him what he meant.
“Why aren’t you living the life of your dreams – TODAY?” He almost yelled at me.
I laughed a little to keep it light and said, “I’m making progress – moving in that direction, but there are only 24 hours in a day, you know!”
Although I had recently launched a small business venture, it was still in the very early stages and I was working a FT job, as well as managing a couple consulting jobs that had come my way. I was putting in VERY full work weeks and working every other waking moment, to the detriment of housework, laundry and other things (sometimes buying new clothes to wear on the fly instead of washing the mountain of laundry piled in the basement, or planning ahead enough to manage the growing pile of dry cleaning). In truth, I was using that finite and fixed number of hours in a week and had none to spare.
Sam apparently didn’t appreciate my answer because he cut me off, saying: “that’s just an excuse to stay in your safety zone!”
This confused me because my paradigm had always been that hard work was the way you achieved success. In fact, if you read my blog on manifesting money, you will note that I didn’t wake up, Rumplestiltskin – style, to find a bedroom full of money. In fact, being willing to work hard had helped me move from being a struggling single mom/retail sales clerk to a successful single mom/professional woman and home owner. I wasn’t aware that hard work was a no-no. I was confused by the context, and said so.
“You’re never going to make more than your current salary if you’re unwilling to be uncomfortable; to move out of your safety zone” Sam pushed. He actually sounded ANGRY and impatient. I thought these were rather disqualifying traits for a life coach, but this was new to me, so I said nothing, but my mind was clicking.
Sam kept aggressively challenging me about what steps I was going to take and said that maybe I was a ‘slow learner’.
Hmmm, I thought that launching my small biz while still working was a good first step. I couldn’t understand why his tone and demeanor were escalating in volume and ire, so I asked him: “what would you do differently?”
He claimed to have quit a corporate job and spent a year being coached by the organization’s founder. He also claimed that this resulted in his earning $25,000 a month after only 7 months, though he never said what it was he did to earn that $25,000.
I was skeptical. That simply didn’t pass my ‘sniff test’ and I was quickly coming to the realization that I had been wrong about this particular LOA guru; he was NOT one of the “good guys” and his ‘coach’ was verifying this with each passing moment.
I told Sam that I had a lot of people depending on me; responsibilities that made quitting my job a non-option. His tone grew more disgusted.
“That’s bull – EVERYBODY has responsibilities and you’re clearly not serious about changing your life if you’re going to cop out and say you have responsibilities” (he emphasized the word ‘responsibilities’ with a snarl).
I was speechless!
He must have sensed that I was not the usual “mark”. I say “mark” because while I was cautiously optimistic prior to the call, 60-seconds into the call I realized I had a salesperson and not a “success coach” on the phone, but I was still unwilling to hang up on him and this is important: because in the back of my mind there was a small nagging voice and concern that the founder/LOA guru he worked for would shun me from future interaction and something very deep inside of me wasn’t ready to be cut out. This is fascinating to me for a lot of reasons, including the fact that:
– Sam never threatened this
– I had never met the guru
– I had never purchased anything from him or his company
– I had only signed up for free articles, email alerts, etc.
While Sam is ranting and raving on, I am having the following conversation with myself in my own head:
“What the hell is WRONG with you! So WHAT if you are cut off from his free crap – it’s not like there aren’t five-thousand OTHER gurus out there with websites and free crap; what have you LEARNED in the last 30 minutes of your “free” “coaching session”? Snap OUT of it – this is a classic boiler room sales pitch!”
Sam’s voice softened – my silence must have confirmed that a different approach was necessary. He said, “I really think you have a lot of potential, and when I say that, you need to know that we only accept about 1% of the people who call about this program.”
I almost snorted – any semblance of respect I had for this guru and his organization vaporized at that moment and now I was going to play along on my terms because I was not only irritated; I was intensely curious. I acted flattered about being in the chosen 1% and on cue – Sam continued.
“In fact, I’m going to call (the guru) right now and tell him about you; see what he thinks about allowing you into his coaching program, and if he has any advice for you. I’m going to put you on hold and I’ll be right back.”
I had wasted the last 45 minutes of an otherwise lovely evening – albeit in a hotel room in a small, nondescript mountain town in the middle of Winter (I was traveling on business that week), and if I had been at home with a plethora of other options, I would have hung up a lot sooner, but the boredom of a hotel room, curiosity and gamesmanship got the better of me, so I waited for Sam to return with what I knew (and you surely do, too) would be “good news!”
After about 3 minutes, Sam returned to the phone.
“I can’t believe this,” he said. “The guru was so excited when I told him about you and your goals – he thinks you’re perfect for the program, and he wants very much for you to join him for your most successful year, EVER!”
“Really!?” I feigned awe at the offer. “What do I need to do next?”
What Sam didn’t know was that I knew early in the call that this was no coaching session. In the midst of his second rant of the call, I turned to my good friend Google to see what the blogosphere had to say about this guru’s coaching programs. I had deliberately avoided reading these prior so to have an open mind when beginning the call, but it was past time to call in others to help confirm or deny my suspicions.
As Sam had aggressively challenged me, ranting about excuses and comfort zones, my computer was lining up story after story; post after post about this guru’s organization and I knew we were quickly coming to the point in the “coaching session” where Sam would ask for a credit card.
Sam responded to my question (“What do I need to do next?”) with a question.
“Before I answer that, I need to know if you’re really ready to change your life and live your dream. I need to know because (the guru) can’t waste his time with people who aren’t committed, so I need you to answer this question.”
I poked back.
“I could be ready to live my dream of piloting jumbo jets, but I need a little more than a commitment: I need flying lessons, an FAA physical, and a pilot’s license, for starters. What does (the guru) need from me to enter this program? In other words, how much does it cost?”
(yes, I asked how much it cost)
Sam sighed – a condescending sigh.
“When people ask ‘how much’ I know they’re not committed. It’s not about the money – it’s about living your dreams and changing your life, but if you’re not committed, well you’re not committed.”
I countered, “Are you afraid to tell me the cost? How can I commit to something without all the facts?”
Sam continued, “(the guru) is so interested in you that he’s willing to let YOU join for almost ½ off – only $6995, but I think he may have overestimated your commitment. I’m not sure I can assure him that you’ll commit to the program.”
By now, I was bored, and having verified, almost verbatim, what I saw reported on the internet about (the guru)’s coaching programs, including the hard sell, the attacks and the price: $7,000 – $11,000 – I was ready to end the charade and watch reruns on TV.
I thanked Sam and said, “you’re right – I’m not that committed, but I appreciate your time and the information you shared. I learned a lot.”
Sam shifted into salvage mode and tried (unsuccessfully) to close the deal, and he did spend the next 2 weeks calling, leaving voice mails and sending emails, but I was done.
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t disappointed. I had pegged many of the LOA marketers as confidence men but I truly believed (this guru) to be genuine; the real deal. Perhaps, and this is a stretch (as well as being psychologically diagnosable behavior) he is a decent guy whose company has fallen into the hands of get-rich-quick scheming people…but I know the truth.
This story (and the lesson) has many facets.
First, I know that there are people who cannot afford this swindle who are putting $7,000 and more on credit cards in the hope of finding the answers to their life questions.
Second, the lessons at the heart of the basic LOA teachings are valid, applicable and helpful to people who need some life coaching or perspective, and are accessible to you for free in many cases (public library, YouTube, Google).
If you do decide to spend some money, it should be an affordable purchase that does not interfere with your ability to pay your bills, or tend to your family and responsibilities. I have attended (other) LOA guru seminars and paid money to do so, but it was money I had, and could spend without going into debt. They were good seminars, and I learned useful things and took away some nice ‘tools’, but I did not leave transformed: I returned to the same job, same house, same basic life – because as someone more famous than me (for now, anyway) once said: “wherever you go, there you are.”
The teachings associated with the LOA are transformational, and life-changing; but they are not a magic potion, or a quick fix. If you’re a religious person, you likely believe that God answers prayers, but you also know that it’s not a request-fulfillment process. You don’t pray for a good grade on a test, and then without studying, ace the exam and make the dean’s list. These teachings are similar in that they open the seeker to a way of being; a way of thinking that nudges you to look at life from a different perspective.
Changing that perspective is the golden nugget. When you seek to improve your circumstances around wealth, the mailman doesn’t drop a bag of money from the armored car on your front porch, but your consciousness opens you up to awareness of the opportunities that are out there for you to increase your wealth.
When you seek to improve your health and fitness using the Law of Attraction, or manifesting, you don’t go to bed as a flabby, overweight person and wake up as a Greek-god. You find the motivation to take the first step and sign up for the gym, or just start taking a walk every day, or choosing a banana for a snack instead of the candy bar and drinking water instead of soda.
When you seek to improve your relationships, Mr. Wonderful (or Miss Wonderful) doesn’t come knock on your door and say. “Hey – I’ve been looking for you all my life!” but your perspective about relationships changes, which makes you more open to meeting people and being receptive to a relationship.
The truths at the heart of the teachings related to the Law of Attraction lie in the quiet realization of our power to make choices, to believe in ourselves, to focus on the great variety of positive possibilities that lie before us and to live in awe of ourselves, our companion travelers on this planet and of mother earth.
For those of you who may be new to these teachings and are interested in learning more, here is a list of some teachers or “gurus” that I would generally classify as legitimate, that I consider to be helpful to those seeking a change of perspective and that have a plethora of materials out there that you can find in libraries, and online. There are certainly others that are solid, too; this is just a list of those whom I have read extensively.
These folks also sell things – follow the guidance I have suggested above, and remember: this is a journey, not a magic potion.
I wish you peace.