I want to bring you some of the insights that I garnered from reading The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, a transcription of a video that my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, gave us when I joined 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 the age of 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, and 41 are still working, and 54 will be broke--depending on others for life necessities.
Why does this happen? Everybody supposedly started at the same level on the playing field. Why do some people succeed, and some people fail?
The number one reason that Earl Nightingale brings to our attention is that people conform.
When we conform, we tend to be average--to want 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 ask people, why do you go to work in the morning and go to work? Nine out of 10 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 with you what Earl talks about when he's referring to 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 20 people are following goals. The rest of the people are drifting as if they were driftwood.
This shocked me. I can recall from when I was a little girl when I took ballet, that I wanted to perform at the theater in the Dominican Republic, which was the equivalent of the Lincoln Center in NYC. I set a goal to do that--and even though I was poor and was attending that ballet school with a scholarship, I got to do that. I worked very hard to be selected and remember how proud II felt to be selected as one of the ballerinas to perform in the Nutcracker in the Dominican Republic.
When I immigrated to the U.S., back in 1983, I didn't know the English language. However, I knew I had to learn 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 knew that I wanted to become a leader. I did everything I had to do to accomplish those goals. And so I agree with Earl Nightingale in that 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 book outlines that many of us blame our circumstances for our lack of success. We blame external forces for what we do.
We are constantly making decisions and making choices. And when we think that we are trapped or imprisoned by our decisions because there's no other alternative, that implies that we think 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, I am divorced, and if I were to think, "well, I have child support to pay. How can I decide to do something different in my career?" I would be putting myself in a box without choices. Divorced people like me, with children and child support to pay, can also make decisions that work for us. But to do that, we need to have a growth mindset that indicates that there are possibilities out there for us.
If you have spent years in the corporate world, you may have forgotten what your destination is. You may not have goals anymore, and you may be adrift in the ocean--waiting to see what wave hits you and to go in whatever direction the ocean takes you.
This situation may potentially explain why you feel how you feel every day. You may not be waking up energized and inspired to go to work and 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 is your second challenge, identify your goals. What do you want to create? Then, what kind of progress do you want to make towards achieving that goal on a daily basis?
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 were given land. They have the choice as to what they want to plant on their land. In this analogy, your mind is that land.
You become what you think about because whatever you focus on, whatever you direct your thoughts toward, success or failure, that's what you plant and what you create in your life.
As a coach and somebody who is into self-development, I have been very watchful and intentional about what I am thinking. That's why I have been able to do so many different things in my life, not because I am smarter than anyone else, but because I believe in what I want to create.
I believe in my goals, and I believe that I have something valuable to contribute to my clients and my strategic partners. I speak and act on that belief, and therefore my thoughts become my reality.
The third challenge is for you to become more cognizant about the thoughts you are planting in your mind.
If you find yourself wandering and not having a point of focus, this is your wake-up call and your invitation. It's time to get clear on what those goals are, why they're meaningful to you, and begin thinking the thoughts that will help you achieve those goals.
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 is all 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 control our thoughts if we are to control our lives.
#2: Cut away all fetters from your mind. Permit it to soar as it was divinely designed 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 force yourself to think positively about your problems. Set a definite and 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 10 cents of every dollar you earn.
#5: Take action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.
I know that this may seem trivial, and perhaps you've heard this before. However, there is a difference between hearing something, knowing something, and actually applying it.
I know that many of us are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety during these very difficult times.
I want you to know, and I say this with love and compassion, whatever state we are in, we have put ourselves there, and we have an alternative.
You can make another choice, and that is to choose to focus on the things that are important and the things that you can control. Focus on that.
Focus on your family and instill the values that you believe in. Focus on your financial, emotional, and physical well-being.
Those are things you can control in a good way. You can take proactive action in those areas.
Your next challenge is to jot down what you are committing to doing from this day forward toward your goal.
I hope that you take this to heart and realize that you have so much more power than you may be giving yourself credit for. We all do. This is not only for a select few, but for everyone. I believe we all have potential.
Do you believe in your own potential? Because I believe in yours.
What is a Goal Card?
This is what I do to apply the concepts in Earl Nightingale's The Strangest Secret. I learned the concept of creating Goal Cards when I worked with Fabienne Fredrickson.
On these goal cards, we write down what we want to see 12 months from now. I have created many of those cards over the years.
When you intentionally write down what you want to accomplish 12 months from now, that becomes the primary series of thoughts you have.
One of my goals from my Goal Card from August 21, 2017, was for my book to hit the Amazon number one bestseller list. When I published my book in October 2017, I hit the number one bestseller list.
I wrote my goal down, and II did everything in my power to make it happen. I worked with one of my friends who showed me the steps I needed to take. I created a book launch team and a book review team. I reached out to people to get insights. I did everything I needed to do to make that goal a reality. The Goal Card, like many others, directed my thoughts and actions deliberately.
The first part of the final challenge is this: take an index card and write down your 12-month goals. Be very specific. Pretend it's 12 months from now, and you're looking back at what you want to accomplish--including how you want to feel as well.
Your Goal Card doesn't need to only include external accomplishments. My Goal Cards also say, "I feel peaceful, in alignment, joyful, at peace with myself and loved ones."
You can also include career-related goals. For example, "I continue to attract VIP clients, and I get paid more than ____ per engagement." or "I am working less and making 10 times more than what I used to make when I was holding a corporate job." '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 12 months from now, put positive thoughts in your mind about what it would look like to have already achieved those goals.
This part also requires you to have 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.
Also, ensure that you understand the "why" behind each goal because that goal needs to be important and meaningful in your life. Then, figure out the next step, the "how," and start moving your feet with faith.
The more intentional you are about your career, relationships, your financial well-being, your health, spirituality, for example, and the more you focus on the areas you want to improve, you have the power to make the changes that you want to make.
Stay positive, think positive thoughts, and then take proactive action. Imagine yourself already accomplishing your goals.
And that, my friends, is what Earl Nightingale calls the Strangest Secret.
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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