Personal Finance

Here’s how to avoid the charlatan’s snare


Your goals sometimes sound unrealistic and you're not sure whether they are actually achievable. You are very nimble and effective on some tasks but fail to get started until the eleventh hour on some very crucial projects. As the intelligent, ambitious and progressive professional that you are, you do have great ideas. It is just that there is rarely an opportunity for you to express yourself.

Other people who make much less sense can take up a lot of airtime, can't they? And one of your superiors' name starts with an 'S'. You enjoy the challenge in a variety of engagements but have difficulty remaining patient while you know deep down that you’re stuck in a job that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. You're without doubt a dedicated member of staff and a cooperative team member.

It is simply that work-life balance is difficult to achieve and that explains why it may seem that you run out the door everyday like a bat from hell when the clock strikes 5pm. You know in your heart of hearts that once you get a better job, your spouse becomes more supportive, the kids grow up a little more, you buy a better car... well, when things become less demanding on you and you are more financially comfortable, you will give your career a lot more attention.

If this seems to describe you, you may want to rethink your position. It also describes every other Jane and John. I could go on, and with every sentence I would seem to be speaking specifically to seven out of 10 people reading this. However close this may seem to you, I regret to inform you that I do not have any answers or solutions for you. I haven’t had the honour of knowing you as an individual. I have only spent a tremendous amount of time working with people as they seek to grow themselves. That does not confer upon me any special powers to solve problems, it just gives me more experience than many have. That is all.

Unfortunately, many of us are desperately looking for easy quick-fix solutions to all manner of situations from job loss to stagnant careers to weight management and everything in-between. The ability to read and interpret other people's situations is very powerful. You only need to present this to a person in a desperate enough situation and we have a perfect scenario for exploitation.


It is imperative that we understand that greed is an inherent trait in all of us, without exception. Unchecked, it generally presents as manipulation of vulnerable individuals. Please be aware that few will hesitate to indulge this kind of selfishness at the slightest opportunity. We must begin to see life as it really is, rather than through the eyes of others who would not hesitate to take advantage of us.

While others will forcefully grab and make off with your property on the streets, other robbers are more subtle in their approach. We have got to learn to question those who claim to possess special skills that can benefit us in one way or another. It is in their favour that we are largely conditioned to embrace blind faith. Our world is a totally different one from the one that we were taught to have faith in.

Earlier on, most specialists, priests, pastors and others were usually honest and well-meaning. We can benevolently excuse their current way arguing that they are repeatedly exposed to the current material attractions and heavily commercialised life that serves largely to distract them from practicing integrity. However, forgiving you may want to be, it’s not an excuse for the exploitation of those that they have some kind of authority over.

Take due caution on any engagements that you undertake - even if money is not involved. In fact, you want to be triple careful if that is the case. Be crystal clear about what governs the relationship. Obligations and expectations on both sides need to be articulated and agreed upon right at the onset. Please bear in mind that common-sense takes a back seat when faced with trying, or emotional situations.

As a rule of thumb, experts, specialists, guides and others should give you an educated opinion. Take your time; ask questions, think things over, seek other qualified opinions before moving forward on cardinal decisions. Ensure that you understand your obligations and responsibilities as well as your experts’ obligations to you to ensure a smoother interaction, devoid of manipulation or exploitation of any kind.