There has been a lot of buzz about James Ray in the coaching community lately—who is James Ray anyhow? As far as I can tell, he is a self-help guru and coach who built an empire off his seminars, books and DVDs. James Ray International, was awarded the Inc. 500 award in 2009, placing the company as one of the fastest growing privately held businesses in America. James Ray is famous for his sweat lodge ceremonies, which are supposed to help you get in touch with yourself–that is, until things went dreadfully wrong.
In October 2009, at Angel Valley Ranch in Arizona, James was conducting a sweat lodge ceremony where three people died, however, it wasn’t until June 22, 2011 that James Ray was convicted of manslaughter. Currently his defense attorney is pushing for a mistrial. If found guilty, Ray faces up to 11 years in prison. In the mean time, he dons the little orange suit until they figure out what to do with him.
What Has He Been Doing In The Meantime?
During the year and a half between the incident and his conviction Ray tried to continue his business by marketing new web videos about Harmonic Wealth and to defend himself on the James Ray website. However, he later settled into half-seclusion in his Los Angeles mansion while he continued to send out communications to his mailing list.
What do The People Say
Apparently, as is evidenced by his 5,000 followers on Face Book, James seems to still be loved for his teachings, which seem to be a mix between spirituality, motivational speaking, and quantum physics. He also claims to have helped individuals create wealth in all areas of their lives.
But others aren’t so amored by Ray, and condemn him for taking the loss of three lives so lightly and not accepting responsibility, or at least showing some remorse about the deaths. For example, one of James Ray’s former followers said, “He lost his compassion for human life.” and is not happy that Ray continues to send out emails all about the bigger, better and more extreme James Ray.
Lessons to be Learned
I thought James Ray’s answer in one news paper interview to the question about personal responsibility was interesting, he said, “I fully know for me, that there is no blame. Every single thing is your responsibility…and nothing is your fault. Because every single thing that comes to you is a gift…a lesson.” Well, it looks like he certainly will have a lot of time on his hands now to be thinking about his lessons.
It is a good lesson for other self-help coaches who use extreme measures to get results, to be careful and to take good care of your clients. It may or may not have been his fault, but as coaches we do need to watch out for the welfare of those who entrust their lives to us. If we see that someone can’t handle our methods, then it is our responsibility to let them know and refer them to someone else.
What it Means to The Coaching Community
Although James Ray had been a repeated guest speaker on Oprah and Larry King Live, made a cameo appearance in The Secret, and was a professional speaker and writer who authored Harmonic Wealth®, a New York Times bestseller featured on the Today Show, this one mistake has trashed his reputation as well as marred the entire coach community’s good standing. When something like this happens it makes it all the more difficult to re-establish our reputation.
It is imperative that we, as coaches, establish our code of ethics and stick by it, displaying it plainly in our material. Remember, pride comes before a fall. Take heed it doesn’t happen to you.
James Ray, Hero or Heel?
Spiritual Growth Coach
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