GLOSS Issue 19 DEC 2014-JAN 2015 - Page 73

“ Success is not final, failure is not fatal. - Winston Churchill We live in an era of overindulgence. While the media likes to turn the spotlight on our junk food and computer game–addicted youth, our overindulgence is not confined to the physical (or lack thereof). Today, our psychological lives are also characterised by relentless positivism and happiness delusions as we strive to create a perpetual mono-emotional state, such that we can never be truly sated. ” Of course, there are a number of reasons for this. It is in our natures to err towards optimism. Hope is quite possibly the most powerful drug we have ever injected into our cerebellums and many of us have an addiction so acute that we will sacrifice almost everything to satisfy it. One of the problems with our overindulgence in the positivity and hope fantasies touted by much of the self-help school is that they inform so many of our strategies in business, and in life for that matter. Added to this is the fact that they’re not especially helpful if we want to achieve actual results. Now we’re certainly not suggesting that optimism underscored with effort is a bad thing — quite the contrary. What we’re talking about is the baseless optimism that dominates so much of our social commentary and leaves us impotent in the face of reality. More importantly, we’re asserting that one of the consequences of this kind of optimism is that we court failure by not accounting for it. Sure they’re entertaining and they temporarily make us feel good (selfhelp’s comparison with rock concerts is well earned: you leave on a high, buy the merchandise and a month later it’s all gathering dust). But the motivation industry’s almost religious status has convinced many of us to abandon our own cognitive processes and ‘follow our bliss’: trust the universe and invest in a cork-board! (It’s important to note at this point that there is a huge distinction between affirmations and mental rehearsal.) We act as if we are generous, bold and intelligent all the time, and as a result we adopt hope as a strategy. We shun criticism as pessimism and at the first sign of negativity, we put our fingers in our ears and chant, ‘I’m not listening, I’m not listening’. Or else, we double down on a positivity bender and cavort like an evangelical congregation reciting cheery affirmations laced with doubt and desperation: ‘I am rich, thin and successful … I am a preciously unique snowflake filled with abundance’, and the like. Consequently, great ideas, extraordinary te