Struggling vs. Smuggling

Patrick Rhone is not a guru.

To be clear, I’m not saying that because I don’t think he is; I’m saying it because he doesn’t think he is. I’m not here to argue either way (it’d be senseless struggling, really), but he said something on his podcast about his RSS feed habits that got me thinking:

“I struggle with this stuff, folks. I’m not a guru.”

It’s the term “struggle” (and further to that, the term “struggling”) that struck a chord.

We’ve all heard and read on countless occasions that those who achieved great success have had to deal with plenty of challenges (or failure) in their lives along the way. Patrick has shared some of his challenges both in his writing and on his podcast, how he struggled at times and found a way to rise above it all.1 He’s forthright and genuine, and seems to have no problem sharing what he feels is important to his audiences in order to help them live better lives. That can be through his knowledge of the Mac platform, his minimalist ideology, or just by sharing his wisdom in other areas of life. It’s because of his struggles that makes him effective — and trusted. He’s had to invest a lot of time in gaining all of that Mac knowledge. He’s had to adjust his lifestyle (and integrate his own lifestyle with others who may not be so minimal) and has been tweaking that as he goes. Without the struggling, I don’t think Patrick would be as known as he is. Nor would he have to argue his case against not being a guru.

Oddly enough, those who proclaim themselves as gurus generally haven’t struggled all that much in the areas where they have staked that claim. In fact, their idea of struggling is probably lacking. Rather, they’ve been smuggling their expertise instead of having spent time struggling to really learn what they’ve needed to be regarded as such. Self-proclaimed gurus have “adopted” (or co-opted) what they teach rather than put in the time and effort to learn it from the bottom up. Then they pass it off on their own — or modify it enough to make it plausible that it is their own. Essentially, they’ve mashed together the collective knowledge and wisdom of experts in their field and packaged it a unit they can call their own. Again, they can call it their own. Those who dig deeper when looking at it will clearly see that it isn’t their stuff, just that the unit is their stuff.

I’d say that Tony Robbins is great at smuggling.

There’s no doubt that knowledge is passed down through the ages, but someone who works hard to really grasp that knowledge and build upon it are the ones I want to follow. I know they’ve struggled with the learning and mastery of their craft; those who are truly committed to that always will find themselves struggling at times throughout the process. Those who offer the quick fix and packages the fix in fancy watchwords, websites and wrapping paper are simply smuggling someone’s else initial work on to whomever decides to buy in.

Maybe I’m struggling to make my point clear. Perhaps I can “smuggle in” a metaphor that might illustrate this point better:

Han Solo is a well-liked, all-around cool guy who gets the job done his way. Han Solo, as Star Wars fans know, is a smuggler.¬†On the other hand, Luke Skywalker was a simple farm boy who took a chance, struggling through his training as he learned from the masters of his craft over an extended period of time. Then, when the time was right…he delivered the goods. Luke Skywalker is, of course, a Jedi. I’m pretty sure that Jedis are the “guru equivalent” in the Star Wars mythos.

Yet as I said at the beginning of this piece, I’m still not calling Patrick Rhone a guru.

But he’s likely a Jedi.