Fourteen years ago, when I moved to Bellevue, I became a fan of Wayne Dyer. The man died earlier this year, a successful businessman and…I don’t know, what would you call him? Motivator? Psychologist? Self-helper?
My experience consisted of listening to motivational tapes. They were okay I guess; intentionally repetitive, reassuring, comforting. The lingering doubt with which they left me is: Just how powerful is it to say I am good or smart or able to do it? Do affirmations make a difference?
When James Cook departed on three voyages of discovery, would he have benefited from some upbeat self-talk? Do entrepreneurs build enterprises based on belief? Can record-breaking athletes reach new pinnacles with a mantra?
Sure, being positive might be a contributing factor in individual lives, but the evidence is far from clear-cut. Doggedness might be a more important quality, or attention to detail, or even a certain cynicism so as to prevent unwarranted optimism. So complicated are both human psychology and the road to success that mere positivity can only be a smallish contributory factor.
Achievement comes in all kinds of forms, to all kinds of people. Control what you can, stretch yourself and know when to quit – these might be more useful ideas than “Yeah! You can do it! You’re worth it!”