Updated: Dec 6, 2020
I want to bring you the insights I garnered from reading The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, a transcription of a video that my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, gifted us when joining the Client Attraction Business School, now called Boldheart.
What is Success?
The teaching starts with this premise: Let's take 100 people who start even at 25. Even though they all believed they were going to be successful, by the time they're 65 years old, one of them becomes rich, four will be financially independent, 41 are still working, and 54 will be broke--depending on others for life necessities.
How does this happen--everybody supposedly started at the same level on the playing field? How come some people succeed, and some fail?
The number one reason Earl Nightingale brings to our attention is...
When we conform, we tend to be average--wanting to be like the rest of the people around us because we don't want to stand out, and we don't want to rock the boat.
So what is success? According to Earl Nightingale's definition, success is "the progressive realization of a worthy ideal." In other words, what is your goal? What are you working toward? What do you want as a worthy ideal?
They also asked people, why do you wake up in the morning and go to work? Nine out of ten people won't know why they're getting up in the morning. And if you press them even harder, they'll say, "Well, everybody gets up in the morning to go to work."
Here's your first challenge: What is success for you? If you follow the definition that success is "the progressive realization of a worthy ideal," what is that worthy ideal for you?
What Are Your Goals?
Next, I want to share what Earl refers to when he speaks about goals. He says that success is "anyone pursuing a predetermined goal because that's what he or she decided to do, deliberately."
He also outlines that only one out of twenty people are following goals. The rest of the people are floating as if they were driftwood.
This fact shocked me. When I immigrated to the U.S., back in 1983, I didn't know the English language. However, I knew I had to learn it to graduate from high school and attend college to become a professional woman who could stand on her own two feet.
Then, once I started working full-time, I set my sights on becoming a leader in business. I did everything I had to do to accomplish those goals--showing up to work daily, attending graduate school at night to further my chances to advance in my career.
I agree with Earl. When you have a goal in your life, it drives everything you do.
Having a goal inspires you to get up in the morning, be at your best, perform, collaborate, and do whatever you need to do to accomplish that goal.
The video transcript highlights that many blame their circumstances for the lack of success. We tend to blame external forces for what we do.
We are continually making decisions and picking choices. And when we think that we are trapped or imprisoned by our choices because there's no other alternative, that implies that we believe that the external forces are the ones driving our decisions.
At every point in life, we have decided to be where we are right now. For example, before I started my business, if I were to think, "Well, I have child support to pay, how could I do something different with my career?" I would be putting myself in a box with a limited set of choices. Divorced people like me, with children and child support to pay, can also make decisions that work for us. That requires a growth mindset that indicates that there are possibilities out there for us.
If you have spent years out of school and working, you may have forgotten what your destination is moving forward. You may not have goals anymore, and you may be adrift in the ocean--waiting to see what wave hits you and move in whatever direction the current chooses to take you.
This situation--not having goals--may potentially explain how you feel every day. You may not be waking up energized and inspired to do the job and the role you're currently doing.
Perhaps it's time to begin to focus on what those goals are for you, regardless of your age and your background.
This challenge is about identifying your goals as you are today. What do you want to create in the next twelve months? Then, what kind of progress do you want to make daily towards achieving those goals?
What About Your Thoughts?
Next, the transcript reveals… drumroll, please…
"You become what you think about. "
The example Earl shares is that of two farmers who have land. They have the choice as to what they want to plant. In this analogy, your mind is that land. Their harvest reflects what they grew.
You become what you think about because whatever you focus on or direct your thoughts toward, success or failure, that's what you plant and what you create in your life.
As a Certified Professional Coach and a person who believes in self-development, I have been very watchful and intentional about where I focus my thoughts. I have been able to accomplish what seem unsurmountable feats, and it's not because I am smarter than anyone else, but because I believe in what I want to create. And I see others who act the same.
I believe in my goals and have something valuable to contribute to my clients and my strategic partners. I speak and execute, continually, on those beliefs, and therefore my thoughts become my reality. Within my means, the resources and support in my life, over the years, the goals I work toward, I've made them a reality.
After you finish reading this article, your challenge is to become mindful of the thoughts you are planting in your mind. Notice what they are and how they ultimately become YOUR reality too.
If you find yourself unable to focus, this is your wake-up call and your invitation. Now is precisely the right time to get clear on your goals and why they're meaningful, and begin honing on the thoughts that will help you achieve those goals. Obsess on thinking about what you want, not what you don't want. And remember to be kind to yourself and others.
What Actions are You Taking?
When it comes to taking action, here's what Earl Nightingale recommends regarding a 30-day action plan and ideas you can implement.
This direction falls under the premise that we create negative things if we think negative thoughts. And conversely, if we think positive thoughts, we live in a way that feels more emotionally empowering.
These are action steps that you can try over the next 30 days.
#1: Understand emotionally, as well as intellectually, that you become what you think about. We must assess our thoughts if we are to thrive in our lives.
#2: Remove all hindrances from your mind. Allow your imagination to soar as it is divinely guided to do. Realize that your limitations are self-imposed, and the opportunities for you today are enormous beyond belief. Rise above narrow-minded pettiness and prejudice.
#3: Use all your courage to think positively about your problems. Set a clearly defined goal for yourself. Think about your goals from all possible angles. Refuse to believe that there are circumstances strong enough to defeat you in accomplishing your purpose.
#4: Save at least ten cents of every dollar you earn. This approach will transform all aspects of your life and prevent you from thoughtlessly squandering your hard-earned income.
#5: Take action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them. This approach is not about humming or positive woo-woo thinking--it is about inspired action toward your "worthy ideals."
These concepts may seem trivial, and perhaps you've heard them before. However, there is a difference between knowing something and actually doing it.
Many of us are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety during these challenging times.
With love and compassion, consider that whatever state you are in, you have put yourself in it, and you have an alternative. You can make a different choice.
Choose to focus on what is meaningful and what you can control.
For example, focus on your loved ones and instilling the values you believe in and your financial, emotional, and physical well-being. These are all within your reach, and you can take proactive action in those areas.
In this challenge, jot down what is important to you and what is under your control. What are you committing to doing from this day forward toward those goals?
I desire that you take this to heart and realize that you have more power than you give yourself credit. We all do. These concepts are not only for a select few but for everyone.
I believe we all have potential. How are you showing that you believe in your potential?
What is a Goal Card?
Finally, how interested would you be in knowing one of the tactics I use to apply the concepts Earl outlines in The Strangest Secret in the World?
For the first time, I learned about creating Goal Cards when I worked with Fabienne Fredrickson.
On these Goal Cards, I write down what I want to accomplish twelve months from now. I have created many of those cards over the years.
Your twelve-month Goal Cards become the predominant series of thoughts. These thoughts guide your actions.
One of my goals from my Goal Card from 2017 was for my book, Fearless Women at Work, to hit the Amazon #1 bestseller list in 2017 and reach as many people as possible. I did everything within my control to plan the book launch, ask reviewers and launch partners for their support, followed marketing best-practices, worked with my book coaches. When we released the book in October 2017, it hit the #1 bestseller list in multiple categories.
The Goal Card, like many others, directed my thoughts and actions deliberately toward my desired goal.
The first part of this final challenge is this. Take an index card and write down your twelve-month goals. Be very specific.
To get the creative juices flowing, pretend it's twelve months from now. We are sitting down, and you're looking back and sharing with me all that you've accomplished in the last twelve months. What is that? What accomplishments make you feel fabulous? And then write them down as if you've already achieved them.
In your Goal Card, make sure to include how you want to feel and "be" in the next twelve months. Mine says, "I feel peaceful, in alignment, joyful, at peace with myself and loved ones."
You can also include career-related goals. For example, "I work with ideal clients who are getting massive results, more joy, flow, less stress, more money in their careers."
For the second part of the challenge, once you write down what you want to accomplish twelve months from now...
Put positive thoughts in your mind about what it would look like to have already achieved those goals.
This part requires faith that you're not alone. When we think that we're the only ones at work here, it could be daunting. We can begin to worry, and worry creates fear. The fear stops us in our tracks.
Ensure that you understand the "Why" behind each goal because that goal needs to be meaningful in your life. Then, start moving your feet with faith. The "How" will continue to reveal itself to you daily--be curious, flexible, and receptive to how it happens.
The more intentional you are about your career and life, the more power you have to make the changes you want.
Stay positive. Think abundant thoughts about your desires, and then take proactive action. Imagine yourself already accomplishing your goals.
And that, my friends, is what Earl Nightingale calls the Strangest Secret in the World.
With love and appreciation,
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About Dr. Ginny A. Baro
Dr. Ginny A. Baro is a sought-after international motivational speaker & leadership coach, a career strategist, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work.
Ginny specializes in partnering with organization to develop leadership teams at all levels of management. And she supports individuals navigating a corporate hierarchy or moving into an entirely new phase of their career. She has successfully facilitated live and virtual leadership training and coaching programs for individuals and Fortune 500 companies with over 140,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000. To learn more, visit ExecutiveBound.
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