One of the most influential books of the 1960s was “The Power Of Positive Thinking”.
It was on the New York Times Bestseller List for more than three years.
It sold five million copies worldwide.
Positive Thinking sparked a behavioural revolution.
The belief that if you wanted anything badly enough you could have it.
All you had to do was believe in it totally.
Just be 100% completely positive about what you wanted.
Visualise it, repeat it, and eventually, irresistibly it would happen.
Just by The Power of Positive Thinking.
If you believed enough, you’d have it.
Whatever it was: a Porsche, a yacht, a mansion, a wonderful relationship, your dream job.
The book took the world by storm for over a decade.
When I started in advertising, lots of people still believed it was the formula for success.
But it always seemed a bit silly to me.
Just believe in it enough and anything could happen?
If it was that easy to get what you wanted surely everybody would have it.
But they clearly don’t.
So I never took it very seriously.
The book was written by Norman Vincent Peale.
I knew he was the author, but recently I was surprised to find his full time job was Pastor of a Church in New York.
And what surprised me even more was the person who recently quoted him as one of the major influences in their life.
A famous person who regularly attended his sermons and soaked up everything he had to say.
Why would I be so surprised?
Well, can you think of anyone who totally believed in what they wanted, no matter what the facts looked like?
Someone who was convinced they could succeed against what all the evidence said?
Someone who turned every negative into a positive, no matter how stupid it looked to everyone else?
Yup, it was Donald Trump.
He said he would listen to Norman Vincent Peale speak for hours.
Remember when it was a joke that Trump could even stand for President?
Remember when literally every comedian in America treated him as a clown?
When he lost every debate and said he’d won them all.
When the media proved he lied and he simply said he didn’t.
When the polls said he’d lose and he just said the polls were wrong.
With pretzel logic he turned every situation into his kind of truth.
To me it just looked like living in denial.
It just looked like he and his supporters couldn’t accept the truth.
And then, in a way no one can still quite believe, he won.
Against all logic, against all evidence, against all reason.
And suddenly I’m wondering about that book that seemed silly to me.
The book that said sheer belief can overcome reason.