January 9, 2013

How many gurus are you listening to?

Photo by Sam Segar
This is going to be TMI, but stick with me because I do have a point, and it will be relevant to public speaking.

I recently started a new diet protocol for dealing with IBS -- irritable bowel syndrome. I've had it for many years, it comes and goes, gets worse and gets better, and I've tried a lot of solutions, but none were quite right.

I recently learned about a protocol developed in Australia to reduce FODMAPs in the diet: FODMAPs stands for "fermentable oligo- di- and monosaccharides and polyols." Here's a brief and easy-to-understand description from R.D. Patsy Catsos' website:

"FODMAPS carbohydrates include certain natural sugars in foods such as milk, fruit, honey and high-fructose corn syrup. FODMAPS also include certain types of fiber in foods such as wheat, onions, garlic, and beans. (No, FODMAPS has nothing to do with gluten -- it's just a coincidence they are both in wheat).

All FODMAPS carbs have a few things in common:

* They are sometimes poorly absorbed in the small intestine. As the hours go by after a meal, these carbs move along into the large intestine.

* They are the favorite foods of the bacteria that live in the large intestine. When bacteria eat FODMAPS, a lot of gas is produced. (Sometimes people have "inappropriate" bacteria in their small intestines that can ferment carbohydrates, too.)

* FODMAPS can act like a sponge to draw and hold excess fluid in the large intestine."

I don't want to get into gross detail, but I think you get the picture. There are these carbs and sugars in many fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and beans that wreak havoc in the gut. This made a lot of sense to me, because a lot of the foods mentioned in her book are foods I've had trouble with. I just never knew they fit into certain categories and that I could control my intake of these categories in a somewhat scientific manner.

I bought Patsy's book, because she gives a very explicit and thorough explanation of the process, and instructions about how to approach the testing and reintroduction of high FODMAP foods.

I found a Facebook group where people were sharing their experiences with this approach and joined in.

What else did I find? A lot of confusion. Whereas I was very happy using my one book by one dietitian, many of the people in the group were using a hodgepodge of resources: handouts from their doctor or dietitian (with no additional guidance, unfortunately -- this approach is not yet well-known in the US or UK, so a lot of doctors and dietitians are flying by the seat of their pants), a variety of websites and blogs, a couple different books from experienced dietitians, and a smartphone app that was just released by Monash University, the central research facility for this program.

The problem is that there are varying "rules" for things like which foods are allowed and in what quantities. Different dietitians give different advice based on their interpretation of the research and their own research with their patients. One says broccoli is not allowed at all. Another says broccoli is allowed in a 1/4 cup serving. And so on.

Add this together with the fact that each of us tolerates different amounts of different foods. So one person can easily tolerate a half cup of broccoli, while another person can't tolerate any at all.

Many of the group members were feeling overwhelmed and confused. Was I? No. Because I have one "guru" and I'm using her guidelines exclusively. I know exactly what I'm doing and adjusting my food intake according to my reactions.

What does this have to do with you? Let me ask you this: How many gurus are you following?

Mind you, I hate the word "guru" when used self-importantly by people in their Twitter and Facebook profiles. I'm attempting to be tongue-in-cheek here for lack of a better word to describe this kind of expert.

Do you subscribe to six different Internet marketing newsletters? Do you sign up for trainings and programs from five different social media experts? Do you read twenty public speaking blogs?

How's that working out for you?

I've been there. I still subscribe to more newsletters than I know what to do with and sign up for far too many free teleseminars that don't really teach me what I want to know. But I'm getting better.

I've started narrowing down my gurus. In 2012 I made a large investment in my business by signing up for group coaching with an online business expert I've been following for five years and whose paid programs I tried for the first time last year. I like her approach, I like her systems and I like her personality. We're a good fit. I finally decided to cut down on the "noise" and pick one guru to listen to.

This has made it so much easier when tempting teleseminars and programs come through my inbox. I'm still following one or two other gurus who offer sound business advice in a different format or focusing on different topics, but I'm no longer scattered, confused and paralyzed by indecision about which path I should take.

It's no different with public speaking experts and coaches. You will get different advice from every source you follow. We each have different approaches, different styles and personalities, and different philosophies.

Are you going to keep following twenty gurus or are you going to settle down and pick the one that you most resonate and identify with and who fits your approach to life and business?

I'll be honest: I hope you pick me. But whatever you do, just pick someone. Or even two. Or even three. But not twenty.

Pick one and then make a commitment. Sign up for their courses, buy their books, really dig into what they have to offer. You will learn so much more by exploring the offerings of one or two people. Once you get past two or three main sources, you're not learning, you're collecting. You're gathering scraps and tips, not deepening your knowledge and implementing solid content.

It's a new year. Time to pare down. Time to reduce "infobesity" (awesome word I heard yesterday on one of those free webinars). How will you narrow down your gurus? Please share in the comments!

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