Trusted Advisor and business blogger par excellence Charlie Green had a terrific post last week on The Secret.
For those who aren't aware of The Secret - I wasn't until I read Charlie's post - it's yet another of those "power of positive thinking" schemes that take hold every once in a while. The timing of this round isn't particularly surprising. I mean, what with terrorism, global warming, Darfur, economic uncertainty, and the relentless crapification of our culture (as most recently evidenced by the obsession with the death and burial of Anna Nicole Smith), who wouldn't want something that would help them turn their life around? From The Secret's web site, we learn:
The Secret reveals amazing real life stories and testimonials of regular people who have changed their lives in profound ways. By applying The Secret they present instances of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles and achieving what many would regard as impossible.
The Secret reveals how to apply this powerful knowledge to your life in every area from health to wealth, to success and relationships.
The Secret is everything you have dreamed of... and is beyond your wildest dreams.
Not to mention, as Charlie Green tells us,
...a 90-minute streaming video, a DVD, and a book. It’s ranked #2 on Amazon at the moment of this writing. It was on Oprah and The Ellen Show. It’s part DaVinci Code, part Blair Witch Project, and part Tony Robbins.
For a congenital pessimist, I'm actually a big believer that if you think you can do something, anything, you're a lot more likely to be able to actually do it than if you think you can't. Sure, trying doesn't guarantee success, but there's sure nothing that is a greater guarantee of failure than not trying.
But, as Charlie writes, The Secret goes way beyond "Think Positive" into the realm of huh?
The Secret pushes “your attitude matters” across the metaphysical divide into the realm of inanimate objects. It says—literally—you can envision your way into having an empty parking space waiting for you on the street; you can envision and win the lottery; a kid can get a bicycle if he envisions it strongly enough.
It suggests starting small—“make it your intention to attract a cup of coffee.” (Hey Joe, I was walking down the street, envisioning a coffee, and darned if a Starbucks didn’t show up in just three blocks! Miracle!)
Is anyone else thinking of the scene in Peter Pan in which Peter tells the Darling children that they'll be able to fly if they just "think lovely thoughts." Wendy, John, and Michael think Christmas, ice cream, candy....and they're off. Only a mean-spirited cynic would call your attention to the wires holding them aloft.
Go read Charlie to see how he takes the scalpel of reason and logic to this aspect of The Secret.
What it reminded me of a "breakthrough thinking" event I attended some years ago. The president of the small, struggling, software company where I worked decided that it would be a good idea to spend $30K we really didn't have to put his leadership team through what amounted to a three-day torture session. The session combined elements of Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, EST, and - if I wasn't mistaken - a whiff of deconstructionism.
The conductor of this event was someone I found personally so repelling and untrustworthy that I wouldn't have taken a Kleenex from him if my nose was running. This despite a good part of Day 1 was putting up with this guy leaning into the personal space of all the attendees, to tell us how much he loved us. And challenging us to refute his insistent statement that, "You know that you can trust me, don't you? You know that about me, right? You know that I love you deeply."
Of course, there are always going to be a couple of skeptics in the crowd who push back on behalf of those non-believers too timid to ask WTF. Along with my good friend George,I fell quite naturally into this role. George and I managed to keep our sanity intact by shooting our hands up and mouths off whenever something made no sense whatsoever. (Afterwards, my boss told me that although George and I "appeared" to be oppositional, we were actually doing the Lord's work as the session leader's agents helping bring people closer to an understanding of the truths he was trying to get across. I would have felt guilty, used, and schnookish if a sales guy from the juice company that was participating in the session along with my company and an insurance agency, hadn't asked to be his partner in one of the breakout exercises. We were supposed to sit back to back and talk about some deep dark business feeling we had. I really enjoyed the sweet nothings that the juice guy revealed. "I think my boss is out of his friggin' mind wasting money on this friggin' nonsense. That's why I wanted to do this friggin' thing with you.")
In any case, the overall program definitely used the "Think Lovely Thoughts" method, which was supposed to get us to think our way out of the cold, cruel fact that we had crappy software, no money for developers or marketing, and were getting eaten alive by well-funded competitors. Not to worry. Thinking positive was going to save us. Well, it didn't. We were unable to turn things around, and the larger company we'd sucked in to buying us decided to put us out of our misery.)
While it's true that you probably won't achieve success unless you envision something or other, and that you won't be successful if all you do is dwell on the negatives, "The Secret" sounds like a lot of wishful thinking.