Diana Nightingale – Widow of Earl Nightingale; Owner, Keys Publishing and earlnightingale.com
The message you are about to hear was written and recorded on a record in 1956 by Earl Nightingale. This message is the answer to the question that he had been searching for from the time he was about nine years old.
Earl Nightingale had been born in economically-depressed times. As a child, because they were so poor, Earl desperately wanted to know why some people grew up to enjoy prosperity while others, like his family, struggled merely to survive Unable to find the answers to his questions from grownups, Earl began reading everything he could believing that someone, somewhere had the answer.
Many years past, and when Earl was 35 years old, he wrote and recorded this message. It was to be played one Saturday morning to a small group of salesmen during his absence. When Earl returned, he learned that the message had made such a positive impact on the men they wanted copies to share with their friends and family.
Earl arranged with Columbia Records to duplicate the record to meet the too many requests. Much to Earl’s surprise, in very little time without any real advertising or marketing, over a million copies had been sold. And he received a gold record. Earl called the message, The Strangest Secret. And this single recording was the seedling from which the entire personal development industry grew, and because Earl had discovered the true meaning of the strangest secret which determines the outcome of one’s life, he went from poverty to become one of the most highly recognized voices and names throughout the United States and from the West Indies to South Africa.
His daily radio program Our Changing World was the world’s most widely sponsored radio program and was heard daily across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, the Bahamas, Guam, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, the Armed Forces Radio, and 30 countries overseas.
I’m Diana Nightingale and since my husband’s death in 1989, I have continually looked for new effective ways to continue to share Earl’s many messages of inspiration with the world. The personal development industry is so vast today and yet people around the world attribute The Strangest Secret as being the one message that has most positively affected their lives.
Earl revised The Strangest Secret several times over the past forty years as times changed. Because of these changes, I believe you will appreciate the historic value of this original recording.
As you listen, you’ll notice how the statistics reflect those of the mid-1950s. You’ll also hear Earl mention the other side of the record. But 40 years later, the message is as true and valuable as it was then.
Now I invite you to sit back, relax, enjoy the original The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale.
I’d like you tell you about the strangest secret in the world. Not long ago, Albert Schweitzer, the great Doctor and Nobel Prize winner was being interviewed in London and a reporter asked him, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?” The great doctor was silent a moment, and then he said, “Men simply don’t think!” And it’s about this that I want to talk with you.
We live today in a golden age. This is an era that man has looked forward, dreamed of, and worked toward for thousands of years. But since it’s here, we pretty well take it for granted. We in America are particularly fortunate to live in the richest land that ever existed on the face of the earth – a land of abundant opportunity for everyone.
But do you know what happens?
Let’s take 100 men who start even at the age of 25. Do you have any idea what will happen to those men by the time they are 65? These 100 men who all start even at the age of 25 believe they’re going to be successful. If you asked any one of these men if he wanted to be a success, he’d tell you that he did, and you’d notice that he was eager toward life; that there was a certain sparkle to his eye, an erectness to his carriage, and life seemed like a pretty interesting adventure to him. But by the time they’re 65, one will be rich. Four will be financially independent, five will still be working, 54 will be broke.
Now, think a moment. Out of the 100, only five make the grade. Why do so many fail? What has happened to the sparkle that was there when they were 25? What’s become of the dreams, the hopes, the plans? And why is there such a large disparity between what these men intended to do, and what they actually accomplished?
When we say about 5% achieve success, we have to define success. And here’s the definition I’ve ever been able to find: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. If a man is working toward a pre-determined goal and knows where he’s going, that man is a success. If he’s not doing that, he’s a failure. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.
May, the distinguished psychiatrist wrote a wonderful book called “Man’s Search for Himself.” In this book, he says the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice. It is conformity. And there you have the trouble today. It’s conformity – people acting like everyone else without knowing why, without knowing where they’re going.
Now think of it. In America right now, there are over 40 million people 65 years of age and over, and about 30 million of this 40 million are broke. They’re dependent on someone else for life’s necessities.
Now we learn to read by the time we’re seven. We learn to make a living by the time we’re 25. Usually, 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. The trouble is that we’re acting like the wrong percentage group – the 95% who don’t succeed.
Now why do these people conform? Well, they don’t know really. These people believe that their lives are shaped by circumstances, by things that happen to them by exterior forces, they’re outer-directed people.
A survey was made one time that covered a lot of men, working men, and these men were asked, “Why do you work?” “Why do you get up in the morning?” 19 out of 20 had no idea. If you ask them they will say, “Everyone goes to work in the morning,” and that’s the reason they do it – because everyone else is doing it.
Now, let’s get back to our definition of success. Who succeeds? The only man who succeeds is the man who is progressively realizing a worthy ideal. He is the man who says, “I am going to become this,” and then begins to work towards that goal.
I’ll tell you who the successful people are. The success is the school teacher who is teaching school because that’s what he wanted to do. The success is the woman who is a wife and mother because she wanted to become a wife and mother and is doing a good job of it. The success is the man who runs the corner gas station because that’s what he wanted to do. The success is the successful salesman who wants to become a top-notch salesman and grow and build with his organization. A success is anyone who is doing deliberately a pre-determined job because that’s what he decided to do deliberately. But only 1 out of 20 does that. That’s why today there isn’t really any competition unless we make it for ourselves.
Instead of competing, all we have to do is create. Now for 20 years, I looked for the key which would determine what would happen to a human being. Was there a key, I wanted to know, which would make the future a promise that we could foretell to a large extent? Was there a key that would guarantee a person’s becoming successful if he only knew about it and knew how to use it? Well, there is such a key. And I found it.
Have you ever wondered why so many men work so hard and honestly without ever achieving anything in particular, and others don’t seem to work hard and yet seem to get everything? They have a magic touch. You’ve heard them say that about someone. “Everything he touches turns to gold.” Have you ever noticed that a man who becomes successful tends to continue to become successful? And on the other hand, have you noticed how a man who’s a failure tends to continue to fail? Well, it’s because of goals. Some of us have them; some don’t. People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. Now think of a ship leaving a harbor and think of it with a complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where it’s going and how long it will take. It has a definite goal. 9,999 times out of 10,000 it will get to where it started out to get.
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 with me 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 any place because it has no destination and no guidance.
It’s the same with a human being. Take the salesman for example. There is no other person in the world today with the future of a good salesman. Selling is the world’s highest paid profession, if we’re good at it and if we know where we’re going. Every company needs top-notch salesmen, and they reward those men. The sky is the limit for them. But how many can you find?
Someone once said the human race is fixed. Not to prevent the strong from winning, but to prevent the weak from losing. The American economy today can be likened to a convoy in time of war. The entire economy is slowed down to protect its weakest link, just as the convoy had to go at the speed that would 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. So we have a plateau of so-called security, if that’s what person is looking for. But we do have to decide how high above this plateau we want to aim for.
Now let’s get back to the Strangest Secret in the World, the story that I wanted to tell you today.
Why do men with goals succeed in life, and men without them fail?
Well, let me tell you something which, if you really understand it, will alter your life immediately. If you understand completely what I’m going to tell you from this moment on, your life will never be the same again. You will suddenly find that good luck just seems to be attracted to you, the things you want just seem to fall in line, and from now on you won’t have the problems, the worries, the gnawing lump of anxiety that perhaps you’ve experienced before. Doubt, fear, well, they will be things of the past.
Here is the key to success and the key to failure. We become what we think about.
Now let me say that again. We become what we think about.