The Guru of my life

Illustrations by Sarah McMenemy



“I think I finally met the person who will change my life!”

A wine party with MBA classmates. This guy Bryan was about to be promoted to Managing Director at a private equity fund and would soon have one more 0 in his salary than me each year. He’d come wearing a flashy Rolex watch today. As these thoughts flitted through my mind, I listened closely to Bryan. He continued,

“Have you heard about the ‘guru to the rich’?”

A few people around the room indicated they had.

“Oh, the M.o.M. (Master of Mindset)! That guru whose grandmother said her ‘destiny was to make people rich’ at six years old, right?”

“Exactly. How did you meet her? I thought people like us didn’t have a chance. I heard rich people line up in front of her house to see her! Even the presidents of multinationals have a hard time getting appointments with her.”

Goodness! Was I the only one who hadn’t heard of this guru? Did only rich hotshots know about her? My friends already had bigger houses and better cars than I did. And now I was even behind in knowledge! When would I ever catch up? Anyway, what had they heard from this guru to the wealthy?

Let’s rewind half an hour. I’d been late to the party and had quietly taken a seat in the corner. I’d heard my friends talking excitedly in voices hardly less vehement than those heard in demonstrations opposing Antarctic whaling and the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

“Pfft, so if you want it, it’ll just happen? Ridiculous!”

“Sacrifice the present for the future. I’m sick of always hearing the same crap. Who even believes that anymore?

“That wouldn’t trick any of us! Did you hear it from the receptionist or something?”

Who were they talking about? I hadn’t heard that kind of vituperation even for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his nuclear weapons tests. My friends usually feigned disinterest in celebrity gossip or office chatter about our bosses, preferring to discuss cultured, sophisticated topics like the global economy or industrial outlook. Had they been swindled in some stock deal or lost their money to a pseudo-religion? I quietly asked,

“What’s all this about? Was someone defrauded?”

Dan, who worked in an investment bank, answered.

“You bet. It’s fraud. Fraud! I mean, those self-improvement books. They write like they have all the answers, but nothing ever changes.”

Oh… self-improvement! Now I understood. I’d been tricked a few times. When I first read each book, I was sure I’d be wealthy and successful if I just followed its advice. But my dreams had been shattered. I’d followed the advice in Miracle Morning, tried to develop the Habits of Highly Effective People, and invested just like Rich Dad. Words are easy. But the Power of Positive Thinking had proven powerless and the Secret of getting anything you earnestly wish for had never materialized.

Nothing in my life had changed. I still got up late, worried about my mortgage, and lost competitions. I’d fallen into a morass of despair several times. I was tired of hearing about self-improvement.

Fast-forward back to the conversation at hand. We were all staring at Bryan. He grinned and said, “I read the book she wrote!”

I asked, “Oh! How was it?”

He answered, “I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night! It was great! I couldn’t put the book down, no matter how hard I tried. My heart was pounding before I was halfway through! I completely understood why the richest people follow the Guru.”

Bryan gave us a thumbs-up. His eyes sparkled and his voice was full of excitement. He continued,

“Oh yeah! I really admire the Guru. I felt like her words opened my eyes, like I’d been in a dark cave and then felt bright, warm sunlight. Like everything was new. Me! The world!”

Matt, a partner in a consulting firm, replied,

“No way! That’s exactly how the presidents of global companies I’ve spoken to talked about her. They said they’d never met anyone with such amazing insight in all their seventy years of life.”

What was all this about? I was desperate to know. I took a sip of water and asked,

“Seeing the world more positively, or making up your mind to get things done? That kind of thing? Or is it about healing? Meditation?”

Bryan shook his head powerfully and explained,

“No, it’s mainly advice about mindset. It’s totally new! I was sure when I read the book that my life was definitely going to change. By listening to the Guru, I felt like I knew how to spend my money and live my life! I really think I met the guru of my life!”

Bryan beamed as if he had it all. I had to know the secret. I couldn’t wait any longer. I started to get up. Others seemed to be thinking similar thoughts. The party naturally came to an end without anyone saying so. My friends and I gracefully said our goodbyes and I hurried away from them, saying to myself that I’d better quickly go find this guru of my life!