Born in Detroit, Michigan, Wayne was the youngest of three brothers. His father was an abusive alcoholic who had spent time in prison and abandoned his family when Wayne was still a baby. In fact, Wayne would never formally meet his father.
Wayne’s mother couldn’t support her sons, and was forced to enter them into foster care until she could get on her feet. Working as a candy girl for $17 a week, it would be years before she would reunite her family. Wayne was in and out of different orphanages and foster homes before his mother finally regained custody when he was ten years old.
As a child, Wayne was exposed to a lot of scarcity, poverty and hunger, but he never felt sorry for himself. Many of his peers would wake up saying, ‘I’m an orphan, isn’t this terrible?’ But Wayne wasn’t a complainer. Looking at the large houses in the neighborhoods nearby, he believed that if he really wanted those things, then he could eventually have them as well.
Wayne began to learn that being of service seemed to attract positive things into his life. When it snowed, he’d go out and shovel the walks along the street. He didn’t ask for anything, but would just go back and tell people, “I shoveled your walk.” He’d go to the grocery store and help people carry their bags out. They were always grateful, and often gave him money. And when he found out that an empty soda bottle was worth a few cents when it was returned, he would follow people around and offer to take the bottles off their hands when they were finished. In spirit and in wealth, Wayne was the richest kid in the orphanage.
He began to understand how his thinking affected his life. Early on, Wayne latched on to the idea that thoughts become things. It felt like he’d been given the secret to the most powerful force in the universe, that his life could be whatever he wished if he learned to make his thoughts work for him.
After high school, Wayne enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The experience convinced him that he wanted to have more control of his own life, so he enrolled in college. At the age of 25, he started his professional career as a high school guidance counselor. Six years later, after receiving his doctorate in education, he became a professor at St. John’s University in New York. He was publishing articles in trade journals and building a solid counseling practice, and was well on his way to success in a traditional academic career.
Wayne was also giving lectures on positive thinking and self-improvement. The talks were growing steadily in popularity, and caught the attention of a literary agent, who proposed that Wayne put his ideas in writing. The result was a book that gave readers a step-by-step method for escaping the traps of negative thinking and taking control of their lives.
Wayne’s book was published, but it was not an instant bestseller. Disappointed with its initial sales, Wayne found himself at a crossroads. He liked his job, but he believed deeply in the ideas in his book. Wayne decided to leave the University and devote himself full-time to being an author.
Wayne purchased 3,000 copies of his own book from the publisher and loaded them into his station wagon. He embarked on a nationwide tour that lasted more than a year, calling and visiting newspapers, TV and radio stations in an effort to generate buzz. He even called local bookstores in each city, putting on fake accents and pretending to be potential customers looking for the book.
By the time he reached the West Coast, all his time and effort had paid off: his book had made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. It remained there for 64 weeks, and resulted in an appearance on The Tonight Show. That exposure, along with the appeal of his self-made success, propelled both the book and its author to superstar status, officially launching Dr. Wayne Dyer into the cultural consciousness. To date, his first book, Erroneous Zones, has sold approximately 37 million copies in 47 languages, and has become one of the bestselling books of all time.
Here’s my favorite advice from Wayne: “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. Every day, you get to choose!”
Until next week...
Live Your Dreams