I spent some time this week at some of the excellent events and talks that were part of London Social Media Week 2015. I learnt a lot, met some really interesting people and generally had a great time. One of the things that I found surprising was the curiously high proportion of Guru’s and Ninjas.
Guru is a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a "teacher, guide or master" of certain knowledge. In pan-Indian traditions, guru is someone more than a teacher, traditionally a reverential figure to the student, with the guru serving as a "counsellor, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student." The term also refers to someone who primarily is one's spiritual guide, who helps one to discover the same potentialities that the guru has already realized.
It’s very unlikely that you are a guru.
Ninja was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination and combat in certain situations. Their covert methods of waging war contrasted the ninja with the samurai, who observed strict rules about honour and combat. Ninja figured prominently in folklore and legend and it is often difficult to separate fact from myth. Some legendary abilities purported to be in the province of ninja training include invisibility, walking on water and control over the natural elements. As a consequence, their perception in western popular culture in the 20th century is often based more on such legend and folklore than on the spies of the Sengoku period.
You can still study the art of Ninjutsu – there are various schools around the world, however, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that it’s very unlikely that you are a Ninja either.
Your personal brand is becoming ever more important in today’s digital world. You might be at the top of your game, the best at what you do, a true visionary and leader in your field; but the majority of people would prefer to make their own mind up about these sorts of things. Strictly from a straw poll of people I have asked this week, the overwhelming majority of people are going to have certain preconceptions of a self-styled guru or ninja, very few of which are positive.
I don’t want to offend any of the gurus and ninjas out there – especially the ninjas (just in case you are actual ninjas!) but I think you should let people judge you on your words, actions and impact on your industry, rather than a boastful epithet tacked on to your LinkedIn profile…