Online Coaches, Guides & Gurus. Too Many Choices?


An Age of Pop-Up Psychology

Online offerings tantalize our uncertainty. With promises of amazing AND NEW life techniques.  Leading to holy ground. Whole and healthy bodies. Abundance in less than 20 hours per week. And visionary clarity for lives of passion, purpose, and perfect relationships.

It can be a bit overwhelming to sift through the glitzy array of presentations. Virtually limitless, by Google-hit standards.

  • Life Coach:  825,000,000
  • Personal Development:  1,760,000,000
  • Spiritual Guidance:  82,100,000
  • Healing:  602,000,000
  • Wisdom:  349,000,000

Numbers don't lie. It is clear that we, as a species, still care about the process of expanding contemplative life skills beyond our current state.

How Do You Know Where to Start and Who to Trust?  

Rather a sticky conundrum, this idea of finding the find wisdom.

Sure, we all know the ancient stories of seekers trudging to the summit of a mountain, only to be offered a tangled riddle by a whiskered and weathered elder. A riddle that always ends with finding truth within. Talk about an expensive time-consuming mistake...

But then again...riddles can be amusing. 

Confucius Says...

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and Third by experience, which is the bitterest.
— Confucious

Perhaps finding wisdom within isn't such a riddle after all. For here on the top of a virtual mountain in China, our guide has narrowed the field to just three options. 

Much less confusing than our Google Search hits. And all we have to do is choose.

The Third Precept - Experience

Confucious himself was no stranger to the bitterness of experience. Exiled from his homeland in a swirl of political strife, wandering from village to village, pouring his heart into teaching a broken people and fractured land. Body worn frail from grief at the loss of his son.

Much like us. Broken relationships.  Global crisis.  Financial uncertainty. Health snags. 

I can hear your polite critique already, "You call this choice?!"

We live in a world of experience.  Whether through thought, action, or deed.  So, technically, by being alive, we have already chosen experience.  

So...the big question is...what are we to do with the experiences that we...uh...don't really prefer?

Confucious chose to wander.  Many today are on the same trajectory.  Digital nomads, experiencing the world in new ways. The next notch on a budget tour belt. The next co-work space. The next opportunity to see life through a new lens.  

And for those who choose to stay do we find these new experiences?  

We scroll.

Seeking the keys to manage our latest challenging transition. Finding oh-so-many bright and shiny stars of marketing and ministry. Fingers itching to click the purchase button. But let us first consider...

The Second Precept - Imitation

The bearded one knew that pain sometimes immobilizes decision making capacity.  But being stuck can be a gift in disguise.  For it is only when we have run through every known personal strategy that we are willing to look to others for a new model of life.  The quintessential turning point.  

Imitation is easy, quotes Confucious.  And we are hungry for easy.

Modeling yourself after another is a good place to start.  It gives new perspective.  A script to read.  A diversion from self.  But buyer beware. For the annals of imitation record the falls of many a follower.  

But only the ones who clung too tightly to the words of another.  The ones who thought that THE OTHER held the keys. And forgot that the noblest precept of all still rests in a mountain top riddle.

The yet-to-be-deciphered puzzle of outward changes beginning with inner vision. 

The Third Precept-Reflection

Only through self-reflection can we create a highly authentic version of ourselves.  Because who knows you better than...YOU?   

Are you beginning to see that the wisest teachers claim no corner on wisdom?  How could they...if the answer lies within? Confucius claimed only to be, a transmitter who invented nothing. Instead of encouraging groupies, he encouraged deep thought and personal study.  

Ok, but Confucious is just one old dead guy in a robe.  

Let's check in with a more modern wise man. 

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
— Albert Einstein

Einstein seems to agree that imitation is not only less noble than contemplation, but dangerous! It wasn't that he didn't value respect.  UNTHINKING is the key word.  Like Confucious, he is asking humanity to reflect for themselves before following others (or while following others).


More from The Wise Scientist of Life

  • Reading after a certain age diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits.

Books are great, blogs are awesome. But the more you read, the less time you have for truly innovative thinking and truly creative action. Keep a balance of study, reflection, and action.

  • The search for truth is more precious than its possession.

Life isn't about finding the answers. It's about asking the questions. Precious is THE PROCESS.


Do you have a process yet? 


A Bit of Research 

There are countless models of self improvement available today.  All with the click of a button. I, personally, have purchased many. Did I really stop to consider scientific research for the effectiveness of these courses before I busted out my credit card?


Simply put, I had a need. To change a particular way of thinking. And try something new.  But I would-not could-not buy into anyone's overt or subliminal messages without spending daily time in my journal.  Asking myself how the messages were affecting me.  What I was learning. And whether the course allowed me to evolve authentically.  

Just so you know I have your back, however, I do have a bit of research.  

Any model can be effective. Because we're all different. But studies of self-concept and self-improvement indicate one familiar key.

Particularly fruitful are discussions about how each model helps and restricts their further development and influences their overall well-being.
— Tatiana Bachkirova, Ph.D

Once again, we are back to discussion, which is to say...reflection. As suggested by today's wise counselors. Critical to our progress is this one question. 

"Are we defining and maintaining our own truth while staying open to new ideas?"  

And now, Back to Our Original Question

When looking for support, growth, or a new spark in life, how do we know where to start and who to trust?  

Trust yourself.

Stay in tune with your thoughts and feelings through daily reflection.  And if, through daily reflection, you are still unclear as to which direction to take. What then?

Take one step. In any direction.


And if the course turns out to be a clunker?  

Like Confucious, you gain much simply by staying open to the Three Precepts:  Experience, Imitation, and Reflection. In fact, you can't get life wrong when you realize that our purpose is the process.

Perhaps you'll even begin to celebrate you newfound wisdom. I AM wise! Robe and mountain top optional.