SHazAM! or "The Secret" to a happy life?

Random meandering thoughts on self-help books that promise magical results.

I've always been a bit wary about "The Secret", the same way I'm wary about psychics and mediums. Many people are sold on the idea based on some kind of silver-bullet or magic-wand notion that it's going to make them feel good or change their lives forever.

While I personally believe that psychics and the supernatural like are a load of old bunk, I can understand the reasons and the value placed on them by those that who do believe, such as grieving relatives looking for closure after the passing of a loved one. What makes me angry are those that prey on the weak minded, giving false hope instead of comfort and closure with the aim of extracting more money, but that is a rant for anther day.

Unlike psychics, I have no doubt that "The Secret" can work, but not in the way that the author and her publisher would have you believe. While it may work, that doesn't mean it will work. It's not like some kind of magic switch, in fact, there's nothing spiritual, mystical or phantasmagorical about it. There's no Jedi force, glowing auras, harmonic resonance or any phoney "Law of Attraction" at work here. It basically boils down to one basic truth.

Your chance at being successful at something increases exponentially the more passionate you are about it.

I'm not talking about a casual hobby or a passing interest. I mean an all-consuming passion for the subject where you can work so hard on achieving your goals but you're so focussed that it doesn't feel like work. Take a look at successful people throughout history. They weren't bestowed with phenomenal cosmic powers or share some ancient powerful secret. Their success came from their passion, their will to see it through, and the hard work that went along with it.

I'm a web guy. It's not just what I do; it's who I am. I'm always being approached by people with the idea for the "next big thing", even having to sign the odd NDA or no-compete clause. You know how it always ends?

  1. I build out the project on spec, on time and on budget.
  2. The client sits back rubbing their hands together, waiting for the money to come in.
  3. The website is left to stagnate, usually closing within 2 years, rarely turning a profit.

I swear, it's like South Park's Underpants Gnomes every time.

Of course I have my own "big ideas", and maybe one day I'll work hard and make something of them, but the point I wanted to make was that you can have the best idea in the world, the best plan and even the best execution, but I guarantee you will be beaten by someone who wants it more and will work harder. I can also guarantee you will fail without the correctly channelled enthusiasm required to see your plan through to success.

That's not magic. It's what's called "applying yourself".

I'm not up on a soap-box here. I'm not entertaining any ideas of becoming a motivational speaker and I'm certainly not telling people anything they don't already know.

I just think it's worth reminding ourselves that you don't need to spend your hard-earned money to have Oprah or anyone else tell you what you already know about life and living.

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