Beware of Greeks bearing gifts the very old saying goes. It dates all the way back to the old tale of Homer’s story of Troy, the beautiful Helen, Paris, Achilles, and the Trojan Horse. It’s a story of men in love (or lust) for a stunningly beautiful woman who is taken off to the city of Troy. Predictably, a war ensues which back in those days meant a barricaded city with an army inside with limited resources trying to withstand a prolonged siege by an army outside who is far from home.
The supposed gift of surrender appeared outside the gate of an enormous horse built of wood. The Greek army had mysteriously vanished. Instead of inspecting it where it sat, the Trojan brought it inside the walls, and began to celebrate their victory. Unknown to them, Greek soldiers were hidden within the horse. They slipped out, opened the gates, and the rest of the army entered the city to ravage and take over during the night.
We still use the term today in terms of software bugs that seem friendly but pack a secret that takes over our data and software. They’re called Trojan horses.
There are many examples of ‘Trojan horses in our world now. People who will shake our hands, worm their way into our confidence, and then steal everything we value in life. We have to be constantly on guard against these people. They are usually very polished (but may not be-sometimes they are coarse and rude-just tolerated by the wealthy), frequently either are wealthy or seem to be (it might just be a whole lot of credit debt), travel in glitzy crowds, and have outlandish personalities. In short-they aren’t real people, not even to themselves.
You can find them in a lot of different arenas of life-politics, of course. Then there’s corporate religion, the self-help gurus, business, horsemanship clinicians, and so on.
How do I look out for the ‘fake’ ones?
They totally lack humility. Every last one of them lack that quality. They’ll tell you that “I’m the best”, “You won’t hear this anywhere else” “I’m the only one who knows…”. If you hear something like that-RUN. That person is a meglomanic who does not know what he/she does not know and is dangerous. (That is not me, btw. That’s from the Tao and was written about 400 BC)
Lack of continued learning-a dead giveaway. Any teacher or leader who does not continue to study and learn is worthless. NEVER follow anyone who does not continue to study and learn. If they do not read at least weekly, go somewhere else. You are following a fool.
Respect for the learning of others whether in their field or elsewhere. If you cannot respect the accomplishment of others, you have no right to the respect of others yourself. This is a two-way street. Respect is earned-not demanded.
Finally, always test what you see and hear. Just because something ‘sounds good’ doesn’t mean it is good. Like that wooden Trojan horse, the devil could be in the details. Take the time to examine them as closely as possible. If you need more expertise to figure them out, find the time to get it or find somebody who has it. Don’t trust blindly. Your ‘gut’ could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.