The Guru-Sycophant Syndrome

It all started as a tweet:

Most gurus surround themselves w/ sycophants to build their egos. And most gurus don’t like me because I’m not a sycophant.

Actually, it started before that.

You see, yesterday (August 11, 2010) I was talking on the phone with a close friend. In a roundabout way, he discovered a certain guru does NOT like me… even though I’ve spent quite a bit of money on his products.

I don’t mind if a guru doesn’t like me. That suits me fine. But I wondered… Was it something I said? I’ve spent a lot of money with this guru and I don’t believe I’ve ever said anything negative about him in public.

That’s when it struck me.

Most of these gurus surround themselves with sycophants so they can perpetuate the belief that they’re little demi-gods. They remind me of King Nebuchadnezzar — a man who believed he had achieved his status through his own strength.

Twelve months later [Nebuchadnezzar] was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29,30)

When a person becomes overly prideful and takes more credit for his success than he should, he’s in danger of divine correction. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, his correction was one of the more extreme cases:

…and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:33)

Anyway, one of the things that bugs me is how gurus like to take all the credit for their own success. They’re so full of themselves that if anybody says they’re less than all-powerful, you’re anathema.

Guru: What? You won’t bow down to me, the almighty GURU?

Me: No. But thanks for asking.

Guru: Depart from my presence!

Surrounding yourself with sycophants is a recipe for delusion. At first, you may have self-doubt. But that will be washed away by the slobber of your rabid fans faster than you can say “I’m awesome.”

The delusion will be powerful indeed.

A delusion of pride will make you do stupid things. For anybody who has read the Bible, this should come as no surprise. Proverbs 16:18,19 says:

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Speaking of doing stupid things… and dividing spoils with the proud… have you read about The Internet Marketing Syndicate?

It’s a syndicate supported by sycophants. If you haven’t read about it yet, you should. (Be forewarned: There are swear words.)

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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