Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

"The Secret": A Review and a Rant

For maybe a year now, there's been huge buzz about the movie "The Secret" and its cast of well-known millionaire lifestyle gurus. I saw the trailers many months ago and was frankly blown away by them. They were intensely cinematographic, full of sound and motion, filmed at least as powerfully as anything I've seen coming out of Hollywood--and, like any good promo piece, they created a desire to experience the entire film. You can see the latest version of the trailer here, although this time it crashed Firefox twice when I tried.

Yet I held back. There's so much I need to do on the computer, every single day, that it's hard for me to find the time to watch a 108 minute movie, especially since when my computer is paying a DVD, it hides all the other applications.

Yesterday, after two days in a row where I hadn't gotten a lot done, I received an e-mail from my colleague Joe Nicassio, containing a link to a copy posted at MySpace, with no charge for viewing. Knowing that such things didn't happen by coincidence and figuring perhaps it would help me get out of my rut, and understanding that watching it on MySpace would let me work on other things in the background, I gave it a try.

And the movie held my interest all the way through--something that's not easy when most of it is "talking heads": interviews of people, one on one. Sometimes they put more active sequences behind the voice, but there's a lot of looking at people's faces while they talk. And in the MySpace copy, the picture and sound are slightly out of synch and the film is slightly out of proportion, so that these heads seem unusually tall and thin. I imagine you don't get these minor glitches if you pay your $4.95 for the official copy.

For the first 30 or 40 minutes, I didn't even do anything else at the same time. After that, I felt I knew where it was going and started multitasking. Yet there were a few key sections where I stopped and gave it full attention.

However, I really didn't see it as worthy of the hype. The core of the movie, the big secret of the title, is something I've known about for years: the Law of Attraction that says you attract to yourself whatever you focus on. And maybe for that reason it didn't ultimately move me very far, because I've been living that truth for a long time. If this is the first time you're exposed to it, it could easily shake up your whole world.

I started learning this lesson a few years after I published by fourth book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook: a book that shows people how to enjoy a lifestyle that would cost most people a lot of money, while spending little to nothing to achieve it. Perhaps because I've figured out many ways to slash the cost of travel, entertainment, fine dining, etc., I've never had a desire to be super-rich. I don't need to. I travel frequently, live in a beautiful home, see lots of top-name concerts, etc., and in that e-book, now eleven years old, I tell others exactly how. But money is a means to these things, not an end. I have achieved them without anything close to a seven-figure income. You might say I've used the Law of Attraction--which, in my world, I call the Abundance Principle (and discuss in some detail in Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First--to bring those things into my life, bypassing money as an intermediary.

The film makes the point that you can use the Attraction Principle to improve your life and improve the world, not just on the material plane. But still, far, far too much is devoted to envisioning the car or house or beautiful necklace of your dreams, and far too little to healing the illnesses within yourself or in the world at large.

These small parts of the movie I think actually are life-changing: the woman who cures herself of cancer, the paralytic who beats the doctors and learns to walk again, the idea (quoting Mother Theresa) that if you want peace you don't attend an anti-war rally, but a peace rally, because you don't want to attract more war by paying too much homage to it...these concepts I'd have loved to see in more detail, but the coverage is scant. I love the idea that you can overcome even the toughest adversity by focusing on what you actually want, rather than where you're stuck--and was deeply moved to hear people like Jack Canfield and Joe Vitale talk openly about the adversity in their own childhoods, that they'd learned to move past. I was especially struck by one doctor who was told as a child that his communication disorders were so severe that he'd never learn to write or converse.

When they make a sequel about applying these principles to social change, I want to be there!

My recommendation: see it, but know that what you take away from it may be something other than what the hype has led you to believe.


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