An article earlier on in the week, about Paul McKenna battling depression, sparked a heated debate on a Facebook, NLP wall. The debate itself didn't surprise me too much, but it did stay with me.
The debate was polarised into two camps: the first being - he's human after all and the second, quite vociferous - he had no right being depressed, he's supposed to be a guru.
The whole thing resonates with me because it's a bit of battle I wage within myself. Given the really quite poor choices I made in the past, what right do I have to say don't do this? My life and personal history has been far from drama-free...most of which was self-inflicted. How on earth do I guide people, knowing that I've done the same or worse myself?
It also brings peoples' expectations of their personal development guides to the forefront.
It seems they are not allowed to make mistakes, or to have bad days, or to go through the trials and tribulations that all human beings go through.
Part of this is to do with expectations created within the media - politicians, actors and people who work within the public sphere often fall short of these high expectations. The Press and society tuts loudly in disapproval when the latest scandal breaks. The person we all thought was perfect fails again.
Personally, I can't trust someone who is totally charismatic and maintains an aura of permanent good cheer and/or other worldliness. In the personal development world, there are quite a few with the perfect facade. Their work borders on cult, as they wind their 'followers' up into a frenzy, charge them loads of money and head out to the next seminar/CD/book/DVD, breeding more dependence.
My problem with the 'always happy', 'always positive' persona is that it's not authentic. I don't care if the person I'm learning from doesn't have The Perfect Life. In fact, I'd rather know that they understand what it's like to hit rock bottom and have had to claw their way back to the sunshine. That they've used their own teachings to sort their own shit out.
But I suspect, I'm in the minority here.
And therein lies the problem for me trying to set up my own Personal Development business.
I'm not willing to create a Perfect Life facade. I just can't do it. And if that's what it takes, well, I'm walking away. I have recently had some amazingly shitty days. I have felt honest-to-goodness despair, frustration and have disliked myself intensely. And it's all out there. I've vented on Facebook, twitter and Google +. So in 10 years time one of my clients could do some digging and find me effing and blinding about how crap things are - cue one disappointed person.
I've learnt some great skills, there is wisdom which I am trying very hard to incorporate into my daily life. Perhaps, I am still a student and will never become a teacher. I'm cool with that. I do still have so much to learn. I am up for sharing what I've learnt. If my life's work is to be the terrible warning, rather than the shining example, so be it.
I want to lead an authentic life. And that means owning the down days, the crap decisions, the days I don't like myself very much.
On an end note, I feel for Paul McKenna. It's hard losing a parent. It must be so much worse never to be able acknowledge the pain and loss, to have to keep the facade going. I have much more respect for him now, because he was able to say it, like it was. Good on him.