BrainTrust Query: Can ‘The Secret’ Help your Business?

Discussion
Mar 15, 2007

By Ian Percy, President, The Ian Percy Corp.

If you’re asking “What secret?” you’ve been away on a safari far too long. The book is outselling Harry Potter. Oprah is absolutely fawning over both the book and the DVD and Larry King has had the ‘stars’ of the movie on repeatedly. On the other hand I’ve received about a dozen blogs in the last few weeks brutally denouncing the premise of The Secret as absolute drivel. To be honest “drivel” wasn’t the word; they used a more agricultural term.

The fundamental concept is that we attract what we have in our lives through what we think and feel. It’s called The Law of Attraction. If you’re ‘dumb, sick and broke’, you attracted that condition because you think ‘dumb, sick and broke.’Likewise if your life is overflowing with abundance and joy, you attracted that abundance and joy again because of the thoughts you constantly entertain.

Since everything around you began as thought, as an idea–including your business, it’s pretty hard to argue against that foundational premise of The Secret. Your level of business success matches the level of thinking in your mind and the minds of your employees. If you want to change your results; change how people think. Of course that’s not so easy to do.

Your future is literally waiting for your instructions and you give those instructions by how you think. I’ve seen retailers interviewed about business on television and they go on about how tough it is, how people aren’t buying and other tales of woe. They create the very circumstances they fear! Viewers won’t go to that store for sure because clearly the guy’s a pathetic loser and his products probably suck too. Up to this point I think the movie is right on the money.

One shortcoming of The Secret, however, is its failure to clarify that you can’t realize your dreams just by going ‘ohmmm’ and sitting on your butt. When the universe brings circumstances to you in line with your thoughts you’ve got to take action! If you don’t, the universe stops bringing opportunities to you. Success isn’t just about dreaming big; it’s about doing big.

Finally–and this is the most important point of all–is the fact that while you always reap what you sow–sometimes you reap what you didn’t sow. The fact is other people can sow weeds in your garden.

Critics of The Secret always bring up the holocaust example or that of a baby born with HIV AIDS. The purpose of these difficult examples is to show that we do not always create our own circumstances as The Secret implies. This is where it falls sadly short of being truly helpful in lifting people out of negative circumstances.

Those who died in that tragic way did not manifest their death by how they thought. But others had evil thoughts resulting in that tragedy. A baby born with HIV AIDS did NOT manifest that condition–her mother or father or goodness knows who else did. In both examples innocent people had to reap what they didn’t sow. Unfortunately The Secret (and the gurus who keep being interview on Oprah, etc.) says absolutely nothing about this.

Here’s the thing–we each individually do need to look at how we use the power of our minds and thoughts to create and attract the world we long for. And when we see signals in that direction, we’ve got to act on them. “I” am responsible. True personally; true in business. The Secret will teach you that.

Here’s the other thing–as Martin Luther King said “We’re all tied in a single garment of destiny” and we’ve got to recognize that no decision we make is an isolated decision. We constantly influence the experience of others for good or ill. All of the wounds we’re experiencing as human society from debilitating bureaucracy to global warming to oil dependency to corporate fraud are self-inflicted wounds that the collective “we” is responsible for. Being human is an inter-dependent condition. The Secret doesn’t teach you that.

Discussion Questions: Do you think a business would do itself a favor by learning from quantum thinkers and movies/books like “The Secret” or are such things just a bunch of new-age ramblings meant to prey on the helpless? (In discussion please be clear about whether or not you’ve actually read the book/seen the movie or if you are simply reacting to this post. Both perspectives are welcomed.)

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20 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Can ‘The Secret’ Help your Business?"

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Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Like many of the other commentators, I wonder what’s so new about “The Secret”? I didn’t hear about this book/movie until it came up here. Outselling Harry Potter, the ultimate PMA character? We’ve all heard it before. The real secret might be how people and organizations keep a positive attitude when times are tough and people turn against you? How do you keep your resolve to do good when you are caught doing wrong, get publicly punished for your actions (prison, lawsuit, etc.), and still turn this around to a media spectacle? Sound familiar?

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
10 years 8 months ago
Have seen the movie, read the book (don’t have the T-shirt…yet–ha!). As is usually the case, the backlash on “The Secret” is more simplistic than the concept itself. “The Secret” is not about thinking positively and waiting for something good to happen (otherwise known as “hope”), it is about making specific emotionally and mentally-engaged plans and putting them into motion by moving toward them in thought and action (doing something!) It is not a passive process. The Secret’s biggest strength is just the way Oprah described it; it doesn’t claim to provide completely new information; however, it somehow manages to… Read more »
Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
10 years 8 months ago

My head is in the sand. I have neither read, seen or heard about “The Secret.” But having read the discussion and subsequent comments, I agree with the comments from Susan, Bernice and Joe. This is nothing new.

Success breeds success. There is no such thing as luck, rather it is picking the right opportunity and making it happen. For the most part we have choices…it is what we do with the choices that makes the difference.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Haven’t been there, haven’t seen it, haven’t even heard of it. “new-age ramblings,” absolutely though not necessarily “meant to prey on the helpless.” There’s no reason not to think positively and try to be the master of one’s own ship but that is no guarantee of safe harbour no matter how strong your beliefs or prayers.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 8 months ago

Whether you believe in “The Secret” or not, the fundamental philosophy remains the same–a positive, can do attitude breeds success. If you have a positive, can do attitude and others in the company have a positive, can do attitude you will be a success, because you are dedicated and believe in what you are doing. You create PASSION and companies with the same purpose and passion are successful. Success breeds success.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
10 years 8 months ago
I’ve seen most of “The Secret” and also read and heard must of the seminal works on Law of Attraction (Abraham-Hicks most recently and others dating back for generations), so I think I can speak on the subject. OF COURSE business can make use of the tenets discussed in “The Secret.” And OF COURSE one needs an action plan as well. Action is part of attracting what you want. We’ve all known perennial victims who spend their lives wondering “What happened?” And we’ve all known retailers who did the same. We watched supermarkets cower as Wal-Mart invaded their turf, and… Read more »
Joe Delaney
Guest
Joe Delaney
10 years 8 months ago

Is that another wave of nostalgia I am feeling or another bout of nausea? Correct me if I am wrong, but is not “The Secret” a rehash of everyone’s favorite 1980’s hit “The Self Fulfilling Prophecy”? Perhaps Aesop wrote a more entertaining version of this in 600BC.

There are always some that will take it to heart and perhaps be better for it. But, overall, I doubt it will have much affect.

David A. Fields
Guest
David A. Fields
10 years 8 months ago
I’ve seen the movie and I lean toward the side which says it is cotton candy for the chronically naïve. However, as to the question of whether retailers’ thinking can affect their results, recent discoveries in neuroscience suggest: Yes. Studies show that most people literally feel the emotions of others with whom they are engaged in conversation due to the presence of “mirror neurons” in the brain. Other studies show that by changing your thinking pattern you can physically change your brain–i.e., hardwiring isn’t as rigid as we once thought. Therefore, if we were able to get the associates out… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

I think and feel like a literate and logical person with a deep background in real philosophy. The best way to make money on “The Secret” is to sell it.

Roger Selbert, Ph.D.
Guest
Roger Selbert, Ph.D.
10 years 8 months ago
Yes, I’ve seen the movie. Although “The Secret” is a bit of a tautology (a proposition or statement that only confirms itself), it doesn’t hurt to have a positive attitude. There might be something to the “aura” or “energy” we create around ourselves; even if it doesn’t affect events, it certainly can affect the way we feel, and how we react and deal with them. So I will put in a word for the defenders of “The Secret,” and against the people who so violently attack it, because it doesn’t really say “wishing will make it so.” The idea is… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Inspiration can be gained by an infinite variety of ways. For some, it’s a book. For others, it’s a charismatic leader. For many, it’s religion. And one person’s inspiration can easily be another person’s shoulder shrug. Furthermore, regardless of one’s inspiration, some events will be random, both good and bad. Can “The Secret” help retailers? Sure, it can help some. Is it the key for everyone? There is no single key for everyone.

Bob Houk
Guest
Bob Houk
10 years 8 months ago

Of course a positive attitude is generally helpful. Beyond that, this thing is just silly. It’s a shame that some people fall for this kind of stuff, but it’s nothing new (Norman Vincent Peale, among others, sold the same idea).

I salute the producers of the book and movie for their success in selling it again–they are ongoing proof that Barnum was right.

No–there’s no management application, beyond my first sentence.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
10 years 8 months ago
For a very long time, disciplines like medicine and business have attempted to view people as single functional cyphers, focusing only on the body (medicine) or performance (business). Today’s medical community acknowledges and is learning to embrace the mind-body-spirit triumvirate, supported by solid science which indicates better results with a comprehensive approach. Today’s business community is beginning to acknowledge that there is more to business than facts, strategies, performance and results. The wave of interest in Servant Leadership is an example. HR professionals have known for a very long time that the single most powerful motivator isn’t money, status or… Read more »
Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
10 years 8 months ago
Here we go again. I believe that the problem with a discussion like this is that what we are talking about is what each of us fundamentally believes in. For those who truly believe in the philosophical underpinnings described in “The Secret,” the film and book are utterly valuable and useful, including for running a business of any kind. For those who do not, they are “drivel.” I am sorry that we do not yet seem to understand that each of us can believe in fundamentally different philosophical ideas about how the Universe works, and that each of us will… Read more »
Nikki Baird
Guest
10 years 8 months ago
I, too, apparently live in a cultural hole because I haven’t heard of the book or the movie. But I have heard the Pike Place Fish people speak, and this sounds an awful lot like their message. You can’t get to a positive future if you can’t visualize that future happening. If you have visualized it, then you recognize the opportunities that will get you there and will be prepared to take them when they come. Sure, that’s easier said than done, especially when you are in the middle of setbacks, but you know, it doesn’t cost you anything (except… Read more »
Steve Weiss
Guest
Steve Weiss
10 years 8 months ago

Happy thoughts are better than sad thoughts? Cool. Can’t wait to try that out!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 8 months ago
“The Power Of Positive Thinking,” “The da Vinci Code,” “23,” “Think And Grow Rich,” and the list of mysterious, magical secrets extends. Now we have “The Secret,” accompanied by Ian Percy’s personal philosophy (which disagrees with “TS”). But no thanks, Ian, unless you’re prepared to investigate my personal philosophy in return. All of these philosophies have to do with men being controlling and godlike–the exact idea the serpent sold to Eve. Race Cowgill is absolutely on target when he writes, “Just because we get lots of discussion of a topic doesn’t necessarily mean that the discussion is useful or respectful,… Read more »
Deborah Gray-Young
Guest
Deborah Gray-Young
10 years 8 months ago
There is so much more to “The Secret” than is presented in the commercially appealing DVD and book as a few of you have no doubt discovered. As a spiritual education teacher, the secret behind The Secret has its origins in the philosophy of idealism – the Plato school, which simply stated says all ideas begin in the mind. As for whether we draw our experiences to us, you don’t have to take anybody’s word for it. Simply examine the conditions of your life and situations in which you find yourself and you will also find that they reflect your… Read more »
Anna Murray
Guest
Anna Murray
10 years 8 months ago
At the risk of being branded a new-age wacko, I have an admission: I was introduced to the Law of Attraction five years ago by a consultant who helps business people use it to improve their businesses (and lives). The results have been utterly amazing. I have a few observations… 1. The Secret video and book package the Law of Attraction very well for those who may have never heard about the concept. It’s simple and attractive, great production values–just like it needs to be. Think of it as an intro course, or infomercial about a much larger topic. 2.… Read more »
Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 8 months ago

There have been so many interesting thoughts expressed already here. There is no escape that being positive is essential to success, in our professional and private lives. And taking action to get where you want is essential for any retailer today.

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