Relaxing in front of the telly the other night, I smiled to see one of the peerless Louis Theroux‘s Wierd Weekends being re-run. The entire world outside of America views their self-help protagonists, it is fair to say, negatively. From mildly amusing, right through various states of disdain up to outright hostility, American lifestyle gurus tend to suffer scepticism outside their native borders. Louis is a past-master at exposing such people’s idiosyncracies and did so in this particular episode.
His key chosen subject was a guy called Marshall Sylver. Filmed somewhere between 98 and 2000, he followed his teachings which, his entourage claimed, would “double your sales”.
Marshall did seem a bit creepy. His $5,000 10-week Millionaire Mentor programme, you inferred from Louis, had been running for almost 5 years yet (despite Marshall’s assurance that there were ten) hadn’t seemed to have produced a millionaire yet. And then there was the hypnotism. Eek. Recurring and frequent, this theme made you think it was more about him coining it in rather than his students.
One of his aides, Michael, had invested “tens of thousands” of dollars with Marshall and reckoned he was on course to be a millionaire “in two or three years”. At Michael’s flat, he encouraged Louis to create his own “personal dreamboard”.
To an Englishman like myself with all the baggage which that entails, most of these guys’ ideas are crackpot. The ‘dreamboard’ though, is one worthy of consideration. Louis rummaged through magazines searching for glossy pics that represented what success would bring him. The game then is to paste them onto a big sheet and tack it to the wall in a position of prominence.
When I got my first job, I became good pals with the talented Richard Lowther. He was determined to earn enough cash one year to take his lovely Rebecca to a particularly romantic Mediterranean retreat. He obtained a few travel brochures, cut out all the pics of the place, and plastered them around his workspace. Success was surely guaranteed…
I’ve heard of several similar stories since. One of the most intriguing involved a chap that was useless at getting up early but now needed to so that he could complete the requisite training for a mountain climb he was determined to make. He placed a pic of the summit next to his alarm clock so that each morning he reached over to silence the intrusion, he saw the pic, and so bounded out of bed.
I have naturally thought about the images that would represent ‘success’ relative to my current goals. It’s not necessarily as easy as you’d think which, I guess, is half the point.