Why does it ever surprise us? Gurus fail! The marriage expert gets divorced, the financial expert goes bankrupt and the integrity expert gets sent to jail for fraud. That we need to accept. So the questions is: Should we have no gurus? No, I think there is a place for gurus. What we need to do is accept that they are not perfect and we need to learn how to deal with their imperfection. Now, I am not talking about someone who is found to be a complete huckster, but rather the sincere man or woman who fails in spite of his or her own advice.
Here are some things to look for when your guru fails… and they will. Look for the follow-up. Don’t focus on what has happened. Focus on how they respond. Look for how they recover. It isn’t important that they failed. It is important to see if they get back up! You can learn as much from that as anything else.
Look to the truth, not the person. Is what they said true? Then accept it. Was their financial advice right, even if they ignored it and went bankrupt? Then follow their advice and not their life. Truth is truth and can be applied, even if spoken first by someone who didn’t listen to him or herself.
Look for the attitude. Do they admit they made a mistake? That is half the battle as far as I am concerned. If they go into spin control and defend their actions and cast blame elsewhere, then I become suspicious. Look for a humble attitude that says, “I blew it but I learn with the rest of you.”
Look for the lessons. What can you learn from the failure of your guru? Did they get bigheaded? Did they overreach? Did they neglect their family or their health? These are things you should look for and learn from.
Look for the redemption. Every bad situation can be turned into a good one. Look for the way the person will come back – and root for it. If their attitude is good then we ought to hope for and encourage their redemption.
Look for the good. Something good can come from failure if we look for it. What good things can come from it (and not just that their products will be cheaper for a while!)?
Look for the person, not the celebrity. Ultimately we must remember that our guru is a person and not just a celebrity. Money and fame does not make them immune to the pain and hurt of public humiliation. Rise above the fray and refuse to rub it in. Remember, if that guru was your personal friend, you would react differently than you do from a distance. I think we ought to all respond as though they were our personal friends.