The Internet has been responsible for much of the popularity that Charles F. Haanel and The Master Key System has attained. The Free Master Key web site, forums, and all things Internet have allowed people to communicate and share their views on this great work.
Along the way, many myths and outright lies have been spread about the author and his great work.
This article will put to rest three of the biggest lies you were told about Haanel and his perennial work.
1. Bill Gates read The Master Key System while he attended Harvard, which prompted him to drop out and form Microsoft
One of the bigger claims made today about The Master Key System is that it was read by Bill Gates of Microsoft while he attended Harvard. According to myth and rumor, the book influenced him to drop out of school and start his computer software company. The rest, as they say, is history.
(The rumour usually also adds that many of the Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires read The Master Key System and that it is their little “secret.”)
Let me preface this by writing that I have never spoken with Bill Gates.
Now, with that being made clear, does anyone actually believe this?
Without any proof to the positive, I will write clearly and aver plainly that Bill Gates did not read The Master Key System while he was in Harvard.
The Master Key System did not influence him to drop out.
It was not the impetus for him to form Microsoft.
There are many tales about his time at Harvard and those tales include poker, Playboy, and computers. Poker had more to do with Gates’ success than anything! It was a move from many years of playing the game that got Bill Gates the deal he made with IBM for MS-DOS. (Read the book Fire in the Valley or watch the movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley.)
How did this myth start? I’d wager that a marketer thought that it sounded like a good idea. It’s as simple as that. There is not one statement from Gates regarding the book or anything of that nature. There aren’t even any quotes from friends or acquaintances!
But, suffice it to say that having an advertisement that claims “Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest individual, read The Master Key System“ would sell a lot of books.
Why does this myth persist? I think people continue to repeat — and in many cases believe — this because of wishful thinking. They look at Mr. Gates and think that something had to be behind his wealth other than intelligence, drive, and ambition.
One of the problems with personal development is that people constantly quest for some sort of “silver bullet” that will instantaneously make them wealthy, healthy, happy, and more! And that is simply not the case. There are no silver bullets in this world.
Reading The Master Key System can guide someone to developing the characteristics one would need to be much like Gates, but it is not a silver bullet.
2. The Master Key System was banned by the Church
It is said that when Haanel wrote The Master Key System, the Church found out about it and banned it. Hence, copies of the book became difficult to obtain and it is one of the reasons it’s only now making a reappearance.
Why did the Church ban the book? No one really says. Some say because Haanel wrote about metaphysics that flew in the face of the Church’s teachings. Most just leave the reason blank. It’s enough that the Church banned the book.
Is it true? Did the Church ban Haanel’s work?
I decided to really investigate this claim. I couldn’t find one instance of the Church even mentioning the book let alone issuing a statement condemning the book. The closest I could find was the mention of a book banned in South Africa entitled The Master Key with no author listed.
Is this The Master Key System? By Haanel? I don’t know. It is certainly not evidence, though, of any wide-scale banning.
Think about this as well:
Who cares if the book was banned by the Church? What would that have meant in 20th century America?
It’s not like the book would be banned and people would be forced to stop selling it and would instead have to burn it. It would not have happened! If anything, if the Church really had banned the book and had spoken against it, don’t you think that that would have only increased the book’s popularity? How many times have you seen the Church speak out against something only for people to say to themselves, “The Church says I shouldn’t read this; I guess I have to go see what all the fuss is about!” Harry Potter, anyone? How about The DaVinci Code, about which the Church created a somewhat huge fuss?
Even if the Church had banned The Master Key System, the result would have been nothing. It would have been like a note passed in high school study hall. No more; no less.
From my research, though, I could find not one iota of evidence that the Church banned the book. Once again, we have a myth that has no truth to it.
3. The Master Key System was meant to be kept secret
The third lie has to deal with Haanel and his marketing techniques — or lack thereof. It is said that Haanel never intended to market The Master Key System. He wanted to keep it a secret between himself and the “elite of society,” never intending for it to be distributed to “the masses.”
In the second lie, there are no documents that show that Haanel’s books were banned by the Church, thus proving that the book was never banned. With this lie, there are too many documents to show that Haanel did indeed market his works!
From small books and booklets to pamphlets and advertisements, Haanel not only marketed his tome, but he marketed it well using techniques that were quite innovative for the time!
One small book entitled The Master Key (not to be confused with The Master Key SYSTEM) consisted of an essay that lead people to the conclusion that they should purchase the System. Following the essay was page after page of testimonials from people who had studied the System — testimonials from businessmen and politicians all the way to everyday folk.
Haanel also produced a pamphlet entitled The Master Key Psychological Chart. It was a self-test that one could do to see where one stood regarding their potential and what they wanted to achieve. At the end, it recommends that one reads The Master Key System — “the solvent for every Physical, Social, Political, Industrial, and Economic Ill in existence.”
Haanel also advertised his books in the periodicals of his time, such as The Nautilus. The ads provided a form so that people could get a free sample of his book.
Haanel also produced a variety of marketing tools that anyone could buy for ten cents a piece, including post cards. He implored his readers to “Send Master Key Literature to Your Friends.”
It does not sound like Haanel wanted to keep things a secret.
Haanel did indeed market his books and his ideas and that the lie of him keeping things a secret is not only a lie, but it’s pure bunk.
I was asked by someone why I am “exposing” these lies that have been built up around The Master Key System and Haanel.
I have the greatest respect for Haanel and his work; I truly believe that when a person puts the lessons of The Master Key System into practice he will see positive changes happen in his life; and if enough people practiced the System, then we would see changes on a global scale.
I don’t think that those changes can happen when people are purposefully lied to, though. The “Bill Gates Lie” has been in circulation for so long that it is legendary – and many, many people believe it to be true. This hurts those people in some ways because they then proceed to read The Master Key System expecting a silver bullet that is not there. The Master Key System is not a get-rich-quick program, nor is it a shallow read that will make you feel good. It’s a tough book – one that requires the best a person has to offer: his time, patience, persistence, and effort.
Some say that these lies are okay because they attract people to the book.
I say why lie about things? Why perpetuate falsehoods? Why build false and heightened expectations?
The Master Key System is about questing for and discovering TRUTH, not about lies and falsehoods.
There you have it: The three lies you were told about The Master Key System and why I decided to reveal them. It is my intention that they put his writings in perspective. When we can look at things cogently and soberly — as Haanel implores us to always do — then we can truly reach for all that world has to offer.