Winston Churchill, that wise and erudite man, once said that ‘men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened’.
It may well be, that as you read the following article, you too will stumble upon some powerful truths. I exhort you to pause, reflect deeply and apply the wisdom to your life. Because, these so called secrets of common sense have the power to transform your life – financially, physically and emotionally – should you have the sense to SLOW down and APPLY.
I first heard of this strategy from Dennis Kelly, Regional Manager of Acorn Life in Ireland, and one of Acorn Life’s all time outstanding performers.
Dennis described to me a period in his life in 1998 when things were just not going well. He was working all the hours but his results were just plain abysmal. He felt demoralised, dejected and overwhelmed.
It’s often said that when ‘the student is ready the master appears’. Such was the case with Dennis. A kindly manager sat him down in September of 1998 and asked him straight up what his key goal for that year was.
Dennis’ response betrayed a singular lack of both focus and direction. His manager handed him a cassette recording of a 1956 speech given by a man called Earl Nightingale.
Earl was a sales manager at this time and each week he would give a pep talk to his team to exhort them to greater success. As he was going away one week his team asked him to record his speech on a tape recorder.
The audio quality is grainy and scratchy and dated – but the message is crystal clear, pointed and has the capacity to change your life dramatically, whenever you choose to activate it.
Dennis listened to that recording, not once, but hundreds of times over the following weeks. In addition, he wrote down 4 letters – MDRT – on an index card that he carried with him everywhere.
On December 15th of that same year, Dennis qualified for Million Dollar Round Table – an award acknowledging the top 1% of insurance salespeople worldwide. Since then he has qualified on 12 occasions for MDRT.
Dennis’ transformation was immediate and enduring.
Yours can too. Begin by listening to that exact same audio recording by Earl Nightingale. It’s called ‘The Strangest Secret’.
Although the original title of the recording was ‘The Strangest Secret’, I believe there are actually 5 secrets contained within the presentation. Here they are:
1. CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS AND GET UNCOMFORTABLE:
Jim Collins informed us in his outstanding book ‘From Good to Great’ that all outstanding organisations and individuals had a capacity to ‘confront the brutal facts’. In 1956 Earl Nightingale’s research pointed to the following information. I have absolutely no doubt that nothing has changed I the intervening time period.
‘If you take 100 individuals who start even at the age of 25, do you have any idea what will happen to those men and women by the time they’re 65?
These 100 people believe they’re going to be successful. They are eager toward life, there is a certain sparkle in their eye, an erectness to their carriage, and life seems like a pretty interesting adventure to them.
But 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.
Only five out of 100 make the grade! Why do so many fail? What has happened to the sparkle that was there when they were 25? What has become of the dreams, the hopes, the plans … and why is there such a large disparity between what these people intended to do and what they actually accomplished’?
One reason there’s such a disparity is that many of us fail to get uncomfortable with our current reality. All too many think ‘DENIAL’ is a river in Egypt. I’ve said frequently that there are only ever two motivators in life – PAIN and PLEASURE. Tony Robbins counsels that in order to change we need to associate massive pain with not changing and massive pleasure to changing.
2. DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS OR ORGANISATION:
Many people fail to define what success really is to them and herein lies a major problem. For one thing, they’ll never know where to search for success. Secondly, they’ll never know if they’ve actually accomplished success or not.
Nightingale defines success as follows:
“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.
A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s what he or she decided to do … deliberately. But only one out of 20 does that! The rest are “failures.”
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.
We learn to read by the time we’re seven. We learn to make a living by the time we’re 30. Often by that time we’re not only making a living, we’re supporting a family. And yet by the time we’re 65, we haven’t learned how to become financially independent in the richest land that has ever been known. Why? We conform! Most of us are acting like the wrong percentage group the 95 who don’t succeed.
3. ‘GOALS’ and ‘GOAL SETTING’ ARE NOT A RECENT NEW AGE DISCOVERY – THEY ARE THE STRANGEST SECRET:
Every great achiever from Jesus Christ to Katie Taylor to Joe Canning oozes this philosophy, and they live or die by it.
You’ve read the great quotes:
‘You can’t hit a target you can’t see’. Brian Tracy
‘Success is goals. Everything else is commentary’. Zig Ziglar
‘There’s no point going faster if you’re going in the wrong direction’ Caroline Boles
Jesus warned that ‘the thing I feared greatly has come upon me’.
Noel Gallagher of Oasis told us to ‘look inside the eye of your mind, and you will find’
Henry Ford said that ‘whether you think you can, or you cannot, you’re right’
And the old Bard of Avon himself said that ‘Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’
Earl Nightingale had the following to say about GOALS:
‘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, and it appears again and again throughout the Bible. 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.”
Disraeli said this: “Everything comes if a man will only wait … a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfilment.”
4. LEARN AND APPLY THE LAW OF THE GARDEN:
This has become one of
the great business metaphors of the 21st century. Stephen Covey, in his iconic book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ called this ‘The Law of the Farm’. Put simply, it states that whatever you sow is what you will reap. If you fail to sow in springtime, you cannot expect to harvest in the Autumn.
And by the same token if you sow red roses you will always get red roses, not yellow ones or pink ones or certainly not daffodils.
I had a man at a workshop recently say to me as enthusiastically as he could that ‘that’s all fine and well Pádraic, but even if you do sow in springtime you’re not guaranteed to reap in the Autumn. There could be a drought, or a deluge or the seeds could be eaten by birds’.
As I contemplated how best to respond to this Pollyanna – I was beaten to it by another workshop participant. ‘You’re spot on’ he says – ‘there’s no guarantee that they will blossom in autumn but I’ll also tell you what is guaranteed. ‘If you plant nothing in Spring you’re guaranteed nothing in the Autumn’.
Hear what Mr. Nightingale said on the subject:
‘The human mind is much like a farmer’s land. The land gives the farmer a choice. He may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn’t care what is planted. It’s up to the farmer to make the decision.
The mind, like the land, will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant. If the farmer plants too seeds one a seed of corn, the other nightshade, a deadly poison, waters and takes care of the land, what will happen?
Remember, the land doesn’t care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it will corn. So up come the two plants one corn, one poison as it’s written in the Bible, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way. It doesn’t care what we plant … success … or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal … or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on. But what we plant it must return to us’.
5. EVERYTHING THAT’S REALLY WORTHWHILE IN LIFE CAME TO US FREE.
This is not a misprint. In fact, I think it’s the greatest secret. This secret could change your life forever if you had the SMACHT to assimilate it.
‘The problem is that our mind comes as standard equipment at birth. It’s free. And things that are given to us for nothing, we place little value on. Things that we pay money for, we value.
The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true. Everything that’s really worthwhile in life came to us free our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our intelligence, our love of family and children and friends and country. All these priceless possessions are free.
things that cost us money are actually very cheap and can be replaced at any time. A good man can be completely wiped out and make another fortune. He can do that several times. Even if our home burns down, we can rebuild it. But the things we got for nothing, we can never replace.
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.
Every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts. We are where we are because that’s exactly where we really want or feel we deserve to be whether we’ll admit that or not. Each of us must live off the fruit of our thoughts in the future, because what you think today and tomorrow next month and next year will mold your life and determine your future. You’re guided by your mind.
I remember one time I was driving through e a s t e r n Arizona and I saw one of those giant earthmoving machines roaring along the road with what looked like 30 tons of dirt in it a tremendous, incredible machine and there was a little man perched way up on top with the wheel in his hands, guiding it. As I drove along I was struck by the similarity of that machine to the human mind.
Just suppose you’re sitting at the controls of such a vast source of energy. Are you going to sit back and fold your arms and let it run itself into a ditch? Or are you going to keep both hands firmly on the wheel and control and direct this power to a specific, worthwhile purpose? It’s up to you.
You’re in the driver’s seat. 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 the gutter. It’s all in how they use it … for good or for bad. That is The Strangest Secret!’
Jonathan Haidt is a professor at the Stern School of Business and he’s written a wonderful book called ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’. In it, he makes a similar analogy between our brain and that of the earthmover.
He uses the example of a rider and an elephant. The rider represents your conscious mind. It loves focus, and direction and control – in fact it’s your quintessential control freak. The elephant, on the other hand, represents your infinitely bigger subconscious mind. And whilst it is wonderfully creative and intelligent it essentially is lazy and emotional.
And anytime there is a conflict between your driver and elephant, the elephant nearly always wins, because it’s bigger. You’ll recognise this anytime you’ve decided to get a six pack tummy – classic driver/conscious mind behaviour – but quickly given in to scoffing a bag of crisps; swilling them down with a few cool beers; and then watching ‘Corrie’ instead of going to the gym.
The trick is to appeal to both driver and elephant.
And that takes SMACHT – Conscious left brain goal setting allied with STILLPOWER, the passive programming of your subconscious mind through guided meditation and hypnosis.
If you’re interest in unleashing the Strangest Secret more prolifically in your life now email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 00353 91 865340.
Alternatively, I’m recording this article, with the original VoiceOver of Earl Nightingale, this evening with Diarmuid Keaney of ICAN Acoustics. If you would like to receive it, please also contact me on one of the above. And remember.
‘YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT’.
Think Great Thoughts.
The SMACHT Guy
00353 91 865340