I’ve spent the last few years studying what makes people successful. And let me tell you, it’s not as simple as most articles make it seem. There’s no magic formula or 10-step plan that works for everyone.
But here’s the thing: There’s one big truth that can make or break your journey to success.
Some of the smartest people in history have talked about it, but a lot of people still ignore it. If you get this one thing, you’re already ahead of the game.
Before we start, I'd like to set this up a little. This article is my take on Earl Nightingale's game-changing speech, 'The Strangest Secret.' He gave this speech back in 1950 to his sales team and it later became a spoken word record that sold over a million copies.
Even though it's decades old, I believe the wisdom in this speech is needed now more than ever.
Picture this - 100 guys who are all 25 years old and hungry for success. Fast forward 40 years. What do you think happens to them?
Here's the harsh truth: Only one becomes rich, four manage to be financially independent, five are still grinding away, and 54 are struggling to make ends meet. That's pretty crazy, right?
So, what went wrong for the majority? Why did they miss the mark despite all of them starting with such high hopes? That's exactly what we're going to be talking about in this post.
"Every single one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts." -Earl Nightingale
Let's first start by defining what success is. Each person has a different way of defining success, but for me, I think Earl Nightingale nailed it when he said, ‘Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.’
To me, this means if we have a predetermined goal and we know where we are going then that is a success. Period.
But, here’s where the problem lies.
Ever notice how easy it is to go with the flow and do what everyone else does? Well, this is called conformity.
In this state, it’s like we’re living on autopilot and just doing what’s expected of us. We don’t even stop to ask ourselves if that's what we really want.
And let’s be real, this isn’t anything new. Conformity has been around forever. This is something that seems to slowly creep into our lives without us even noticing.
Now, let's think about people who are 65 and older. A lot of them are stuck with a fixed income and depend on programs or others for their basic needs.
Well, we learn to read when we’re little kids, right? We go through high school and usually by our mid-20s most of us are earning a paycheck while some may even have families.
Then why is it by 65 so many still have not figured out how to be financially free? And this is happening while living in one of the richest countries in the world, in one of the greatest times ever recorded!
It’s pretty crazy when you think about it that way. What do you think the root cause is? Well, it's conformity.
We conform without even knowing why. We think life just happens to us, and that we’re victims of circumstance. It’s easier to blame someone else and others than it is to own up to our own choices.
So, then, who succeeds? The ones who are on a mission, have a goal and are all in on achieving it.
Like the teacher who wakes up every day pumped to inspire her students. Or the entrepreneur who’s not just in it for the cash but is driven by passion and a bigger vision.
Now here's the problem with this. Only 1 in 20 people are living this way. Why?
In my opinion, it's because our idea of success has shifted. It’s become more about keeping up with appearances and what we can acquire for ourselves, rather than what we can give back or how we can contribute to the world.
We’re now more focused on our own needs and less on making a real difference. Hey, I could be wrong. But that's what it sure seems like to me.
“A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
Haven't you ever wondered why some people seem to have it all while others seem stuck? Well, Earl Nightingale says it’s all about goals.
Let’s be real, the word goals has lost its true meaning.
We say we have goals when really we’re just making wishes. Want to lose weight or make more money? Those aren’t goals. They’re wishes, but we act like they're goals.
Without a goal, we’re basically a ship lost at sea. We’re letting life happen to us instead of making life happen for us. But when we get serious and create a goal with meaning behind it then we start steering toward something real.
And the best part is that goals aren’t just about the end game. They’re about who you become along the way. The skills you pick up, the people you meet, and the lessons that stick with you. The powers in the journey, not the destination.
(Make sure to follow WYOS. We have an in-depth post on the right way to set and achieve goals coming out soon! You won't want to miss this!)
Then what’s the big secret that sets the winners apart from the losers?
Well, it’s this — WE BECOME WHAT WE THINK ABOUT. I know it sounds simple, but don’t brush it off.
I used to laugh at this idea. Why? Because I didn’t dig deeper. I took it at face value and moved on. And I've come to realize this was a huge mistake.
I always thought success was for the lucky few. You know, the ones born with a silver spoon or those who just had “it.”
But that’s bullshit and I was wrong. If you’re thinking the same way then you might want to think a little deeper about it. Luck might play a tiny part, but I've learned it mainly comes down to mindset.
So, if it all comes down to mindset, what are we planting in our minds?
If we fill our minds with negativity then we shouldn’t be shocked when life serves us more of the same. But what if we fill it with wisdom and truth? We’re setting ourselves up for something great.
Ever think about how much time we waste? TV, social media, games — they’re fun, but they’re time-suckers. Everyone knows this. Now, what if we changed just an hour of that to learn something new? It’s tough and not as exciting, I get it. And that’s why only a few make the switch.
We’re exactly where we think we should be. Let me repeat that. We're exactly where we think we should be.
Like it or not, our thoughts are the seeds for our future. What we’re thinking now shapes what comes next. We’re all piloting our own lives guided by what’s in our heads.
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you."
Now why does Earl Nightingale call what we have discussed in this article the Strangest Secret?
He does this because it’s not really a secret at all, yet it kind of is.
This is wisdom and information that’s been around since the first wise people walked the earth. It appears in the bible over and over again.
Yet, only a few people try to learn and understand it. And that’s a shame because this is valuable information. Not only for our own lives but for the lives of everyone around us.
This information has the power to change lives for those who dive deeper in and try to understand it. That’s why I want to make sure I provide you with some actionable steps. Here are Earl Nightingale’s suggestions:
To Sum It Up:
Here’s the deal - Success isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be. It’s actually pretty straightforward.
We often like to overthink it and make it seem like some huge, complex puzzle. But it’s not.
It mainly comes down to our mindset.
There's obviously more to it than just mindset. But if we believe we can change our lives then suddenly our reality starts to change and opportunities start to appear. All we really need is a clear goal and some faith.
Try to start today.
Use your time wisely and you’ll see the rewards. Give without expecting anything in return and you’ll be surprised at how life starts to change. And whatever you’re doing for a living, approach it with a whole new outlook and perspective. Hopefully, these suggestions help in some way.
"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves." -Buddha
Success isn’t about the wealth, fame, and power that we like to believe it is.
Success is about having a goal that deeply matters to us and then going after it. It’s about breaking the mold and taking control of our own life.
So, what’s your goal? Is there anything you’ve been putting off?
Drop a comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say and if you have any feedback about this post.
If you’ve found this post to be helpful or know someone who you think will benefit, please feel free to share this. A lot of people out in the world today are struggling to keep their heads above water. There might be someone out there who needs to hear this at this very moment. Share this post. Let’s try to help those people in any way we can.
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If you liked this post and want to learn more about The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale then here are a few resources you might enjoy.
The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale: This is the book version of the famous speech. It's a quick read but packed with insights. Perfect for someone who wants to really sit down and absorb the message.
Here's an incredible video from the After Skool channel on YouTube-
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