An extract from the book “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale, a famous radio show host, in the 1940’s and 1950s. He was also a successful entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.
The amazing message that has now become known as the Strangest Secret was first played for a group of salespeople at Earl Nightingale’s insurance agency. They were utterly electrified. Word of it spread like wildfire, and everyone who heard it was positively ignited into action.
Requests for a recording of the message came pouring in—thousands of requests per week. Within no time, more than 200,000 people had called, written, or just walked right into Earl’s office to request a copy. As years went by, by 1956 that number soared above 1,000,000.
Today, more than 60 years later, The Strangest Secret remains one of the most powerful and influential messages ever recorded. It continues to transform the lives of everyone who hears and heeds it. Here is the essence of the Strangest Secret as conveyed by Earl Nigtingale…
What will happen to 100 individuals who start even at the age of 25, and who believe they will be successful? By the age of 65, only five out of 100 will make the grade! Why do so many fail? What happened to the sparkle that was there when they were 25? What became of their dreams, their hopes, their plans …
By the time they’re 65, only one will be rich, four will be financially independent, five will still be working, and 54 will be broke — depending on others for life’s necessities.
THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
First, we have to define success and here is the best definition I’ve ever been able to find: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
A success is the school teacher who is teaching because that’s what he or she wants to do. A success is the entrepreneur who start his own company because that was his dream — that’s what he wanted to do. A success is the salesperson who wants to become the best salesperson in his or her company and sets forth on the pursuit of that goal.
Rollo May, the distinguished psychiatrist, wrote a wonderful book called Man’s Search for Himself, and in this book he says: “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice … it is conformity.” And there you have the reason for so many failures. Conformity — people acting like everyone else, without knowing why or where they are going.
Have you ever wondered why so many people work so hard and honestly without ever achieving anything in particular, and why others don’t seem to work hard, yet seem to get everything? They seem to have the “magic touch.” You’ve heard people say, “Everything he touches turns to gold.” Have you ever noticed that a person who becomes successful tends to continue to become more successful? And, on the other hand, have you noticed how someone who’s a failure tends to continue to fail?
The difference is goals. People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. It’s that simple. Failures, on the other hand, believe that their lives are shaped by circumstances … by things that happen to them … by exterior forces.
Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take — it has a definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there.
Now let’s take another ship — just like the first — only let’s not put a crew on it, or a captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all, it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach — a derelict. It can’t go anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance.
It’s the same with a human being. However, the human race is fixed, not to prevent the strong from winning, but to prevent the weak from losing. Society today can be likened to a convoy in time of war. The entire society is slowed down to protect its weakest link, just as the naval convoy has to go at the speed that will permit its slowest vessel to remain in formation.
That’s why it’s so easy to make a living today. It takes no particular brains or talent to make a living and support a family today. We have a plateau of so-called “security.” So, to succeed, all we must do is decide how high above this plateau we want to aim.
Throughout history, the great wise men and teachers, philosophers, and prophets have disagreed with one another on many different things. It is only on this one point that they are in complete and unanimous agreement — the key to success and the key to failure is this:
WE BECOME WHAT WE THINK ABOUT
This is The Strangest Secret! Now, why do I say it’s strange, and why do I call it a secret? Actually, it isn’t a secret at all. It was first promulgated by some of the earliest wise men, but very few people have learned it or understand it. That’s why it’s strange, and why for some equally strange reason it virtually remains a secret.
Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, said: “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale put it this way: “If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results.”
George Bernard Shaw said: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want,and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Well, it’s pretty apparent, isn’t it? We become what we think about. A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that’s what he’s thinking about. Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn’t know where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety, fear, and worry will thereby create a life of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing … he becomes nothing.
The human mind doesn’t care what we think about … success … or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal … or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on. But what we think it will return to us.
Our mind can do any kind of job we assign to it, but generally speaking, we use it for little jobs instead of big ones. So decide now. What is it you want? Plant your goal in your mind. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make in your entire life.
Do you want to excel at your particular job? Do you want to go places in your company … in your community? Do you want to get rich? All you have got to do is plant that seed in your mind, care for it, work steadily toward your goal, and it will become a reality.
It not only will, there’s no way that it cannot. You see, that’s a law — like the laws of gravity. If you get on top of a building and jump off, you’ll always go down — you’ll never go up. And it’s the same with all the other laws of nature. They always work. They’re inflexible.
Think about your goal in a relaxed, positive way. Picture yourself in your mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you will be doing when you have reached your goal.
Every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts. What you think today and tomorrow — next month and next year — will mold your life and determine your future.
You see, the very law that gives us success is a double-edged sword. We must control our thinking. The same rule that can lead people to lives of success, wealth, happiness, and all the things they ever dreamed of — that very same law can lead them into failure. It’s all in how they use it … for good or for bad. That is The Strangest Secret!
The moment you truly decide on a goal to work toward, you’re immediately a successful person — you are then in that rare group of people who know where they’re going. Out of every hundred people, you belong to the top five. Don’t concern yourself too much with how you are going to achieve your goal — leave that completely to a power greater than yourself. All you have to do is know where you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord, and at the right time.
IDEAS FOR PUTTING THE STRANGEST SECRET TO WORK FOR YOU
For the next 30-days follow each of these steps every day until you have achieved your goal.
1. Write on a card or on a notepad what it is you want more than anything else. It may be more money. Perhaps you’d like to double your income or make a specific amount of money. It may be a beautiful home. It may be success at your job. It may be a particular position in life. It could be a more harmonious family. Write down on your card specifically what it is you want. Make sure it’s a single goal and clearly defined. You needn’t show it to anyone, but carry it with you so that you can look at it several times a day.
2. Stop thinking about what it is you fear. Each time a fearful or negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a mental picture of your positive and worthwhile goal. And there will come a time when you’ll feel like giving up. It’s easier for a human being to think negatively than positively. That’s why only five percent are successful! You must begin now to place yourself in that group. Act as though it were impossible to fail.
3. Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you render. Most people will tell you that they want to make money, without understanding this law. The only people who make money work in a mint. The rest of us must earn money. This is what causes those who keep looking for something for nothing, or a free ride, to fail in life. Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our service. Most people have this law backwards. It’s like the man who stands in front of the stove and says to it: “Give me heat and then I’ll add the wood.”
Take this 30-day test, then repeat it … then repeat it again. Each time it will become more a part of you until you’ll wonder how you could have ever have lived any other way
Start today. You have nothing to lose — but you have your whole life to win.