For starters, you have to have a passion for a particular subject or niche AND you have to have a passion for telling the world about it—one without the other doesn’t work. For example, you can have a true passion for collecting Indian head pennies; you might even do it 14 hours a day. But if you aren’t willing to tell people about your passions and insights in either a written or verbal form, you will never become a guru.
On the other hand, if you are willing to talk all day long about anything, but you don’t have a passion for gaining knowledge in a particular niche, you will never be successful as a guru or expert. Some of you are thinking, “TJ, that’s not true, Rush Limbaugh doesn’t have any expertise on anything, yet he makes $50 million a year—and he’s a complete idiot!” At first blush, this may appear true. But Rush is actually the foremost expert in the world at looking at all politics and major news issues through the prism of how to make liberals and Democrats look like fools. Like it or not, this is a niche with a big following and one where there is huge money to be made.
The next thing you need in order to be a successful guru is confidence in your opinions, not just your facts. Again, let’s look at Rush Limbaugh. Love him or hate him, the man has extreme confidence in his opinions and this is contagious. I’m not just talking about political experts here. You may be a heart surgeon, a futurist, or a home gardening expert, it is essential that you can express your opinions with confidence. Many bright, high IQ, individuals with tremendous academic credentials simply are not comfortable articulating their own opinions and will therefore never be comfortable as a guru or high profile expert.
The best students in life often end up as the worst gurus and high profile experts. On the other hand, poor students often become wildly successful gurus. Anthony Robbins has only a high school degree. Men are From Mars and women are from Venus’s John Gray has a PhD from a bogus college that doesn’t even exist anymore. And yet I have encountered countless PhDs from Ivy League universities who try to escape their dead end jobs and make the leap to full-time expert or guru in their fields and never make it. Why?
Straight A students often have to work within the environment of being told what to do, when to finish a paper, what to study for a test, etc. In short, they need regimentation. Gurus and experts typically don’t become gurus and experts unless they can look beyond the boundaries of what is done conventionally. Additionally, most gurus and experts have to make a decision that they want to become a guru or expert. Typically, nobody asks you to become a guru. You get to be one through sheer force of will, determination, and the ability to withstand rejection, disappointment and failure.
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