Vanilla Self-Help Advice

Christine Whelan | Posted on 04/19/10

Notorious self-help guru James Ray is on Step #5 of his seven-step free online seminar on "creating a fulfilling life." This week's is about the importance of having a coach. 

I've watched all of them, waiting for him to say something outrageous like, "One step to a fulfilling life is to ask customers to pre-pay for seminars, spend that money, suspend your business because you're on trial for manslaughter and then shrug and say you're broke when people demand it back." 

Instead, it's pretty basic self-help stuff: Figure out your values, set up a plan of practice for life change, ask friends and family to help, find a coach to motivate you if necessary, etc.

And that drives me -- and those who have attended James Ray seminars -- insane.

These free, online videos are nothing like what he teaches in his advanced seminars, one former James Ray follower told me. "Those videos are total vanilla compared to his usual stuff. They have none of his usual bite."

Usual stuff includes "vision quest" retreats with no food or water, breaking boards with your bare hands, walking on coals and other theatrics. But you'll see none of that in these made-for-the-masses videos.

It's a brilliant strategy: Folks who have never heard of James Ray read an article about him in the paper, implying that he used powerful persuasion strategies to trap dozens of people in sweat lodge at a self-help retreat. Curious, they go online to find out more, watch his video, and conclude that he's a reasonable guy.

Just wait until all the facts come out at the manslaughter trial this autumn. In the meantime, stay tuned for step six of creating a fulfilling life, online next week.


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