Seeing Comes First

In 1999, I lived for a brief time in an apartment about a block from a Barnes & Noble bookstore. I used to go over there every day or two to and stand at the front racks, imagining that there was a book with my name on it right on the front table. I would also go over to the “Inspiration & Motivation” rack in the business section where the parables were, like The One Minute Manager, and do the same thing. You might call it, literary visualization. When my lease was up a year later I moved on—but I kept up my regular Barnes visits. For the next few years, I kept going in and standing there, picturing my book on the racks in my head. Then, in 2005, Bob Burg and I wrote The Go-Giver. And by the early months of 2008 guess where it was? On the “Inspiration & Motivation” rack at Barnes & Noble. Since then, I’ve had more than a dozen titles on the Barnes & Noble shelves. About two years ago, I started doing something new. I started going into the supermarkets, Targets, and Wal-Marts, walking over to their bestseller racks, where they displayed the latest Dean Koontz and Stephen King blockbusters, Stephanie Plum and Jack Reacher thrillers, Harry Potter and Breaking Dawn–type adventure fantasies, and whatever other slim handful of bestselling titles they were carrying at the moment, and — you guessed it — picturing my book sitting there on that rack. I had no idea what specific book that might possibly be. Just pictured it being there. And here we are...

Quotes and Truths

A friend just sent me a copy of a book entitled Attitude Is Everything, by Jeff Keller. The subtitle reads, “Change Your Attitude … Change Your Life!” and the book’s introduction leads off with this famous quotation: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” — William James … And right there, the author lost me. Now, I don’t know Mr. Keller, nor anything about him, and have not yet read any further in his book (which I do intend to do at some point). And I have no doubt that he has much wisdom, experience, and value to offer the reader. What’s more, I strongly think the core idea contained within the twenty words of that famous quotation are wise indeed, and I agree with it completely. It’s just that William James never said it. At least, not as far as I’ve been able to determine … and I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried. I recently worked on a book for someone (as yet unpublished) who happens to adore that quote, and it played a significant part in the story. I was instantly suspicious: it’s a great line, but it just doesn’t sound like something an erudite nineteenth-century philosopher and Harvard professor, and the man often referred to as the “father of modern psychology,” would say. It sounded more like something James Allen (As a Man Thinketh) or some other early twentieth-century positive-thinking, self-help writer would have said. I started searching. And searching. And searching. This pithy quote appears in a zillion places on the Internet,...