The Strangest Secret was a 1956 spoken word record by Earl Nightingale
I’d like to tell you about The Strangest Secret in the world.
Some years ago the late Nobel prize-winning Dr. Albert Schweitzer was being interviewed in London and a reporter asked him:
“Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?”
The late doctor was silent a moment, and then he said:
“Men simply don’t think!”
Its 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 to, 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 ask any one of these men if they want to be a success he’s would tell you he did.
And, you’d notice that he was eager toward life; that there is a certain sparkle in their eye, an erectness to their carriage. 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, 5 will still be working, and 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 has become of their dreams, their hopes, their plans? And, why is there such a large disparity between what these people intended to do and what they actually accomplished?
When we say about 5% achieve success, we have to define success.
Here is the best definition I’ve ever been able to find:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
If a man is working toward a predetermined 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.”
Rollo May, the distinguished psychiatrist, wrote in his wonderful book called, Man’s Search for Himself:
“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 or without knowing where they are going.
Now think of it.
In America right now, there are over 40 million people 65 years of age and
older. And most of them are broke. They’re dependent on someone else for life’s necessities. We learn to read by the time we are seven. We learn to make a living by the time we’re 25.
Usually, by that time we are not only making a living, we’re supporting a family. And yet by the time we are 65, we haven’t learned how to become financially independent in the richest land that has ever been known.
And the trouble is most of us are acting like the wrong percentage group — the 95 who don’t succeed.
Why do these people conform?
Well, they really don’t know.
These people believe their lives are shaped by circumstances, by things that happen to them by exterior forces. They are outer-directed people.
A survey was made one time that covered a lot of people, working people.
These people were asked, “Why do you work?”, “Why do you get up in the
19 out of 20 had no idea.
If you ask them they will say, “Everyone goes to work in the morning.”
And that is the reason they do it — because everyone else is doing it.
Now let’s get back to our definition of success.
The only person who succeeds is the person who is progressively realizing a
worthy ideal. Its the person, who says, “I am going to become this”, and then begins to work towards that goal.
I’ll tell you the successful people are.
But only one out of 20 does that.
That’s why today there is really not any competition unless we make it for
ourselves. Instead of competing, all we have to do is create.
You know, for twenty 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 they only knew about it and knew how to use it?
Well there is such a key and I’ve found it.
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 about someone, “Everything he touches turns to gold.”
Have you ever noticed that a person who becomes successful tends to
continue to become successful? And on the other hand, have you noticed how someone who is a failure tends to continue to fail?
Well it’s because of GOALS.
Some of us have goals, some don’t.
People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.
It’s that simple.
Think of a ship leaving a harbour and think of it 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 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, 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 harbour 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.
And 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 salesperson!
Selling is the world’s highest-paid profession, if you are good at it and if you know where you are going. Every company needs top-notched salespeople. And they reward those people; 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 naval convoy in time of war. The entire economy is slowed down to protect its weakest link, just as the 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. So we have a plateau of so-called “security” if that is what a person is looking for. But we all do have to decide how high above this plateau we want to aim.
Now let’s get back to the Strangest Secret in The World, the story 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.
Well, they’ll be things of the past.
Here’s 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.”
Throughout all 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.”
Listen to what Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, said:
“A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
Benjamin Disraeli said this:
“Everything comes if a man will only wait … I’ve brought myself after long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfilment.”
Ralph Waldo Emmerson said this:
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
William James said:
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
And he also said:
“We need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question were real, and it will become infallibly real by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. It will become so knit with habit and emotion that our interests in it will be those which characterize belief.”
He also said:
“If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly obtain it.”
“If you wish to be rich, you will be rich.”
“If you wish to be learned, you will be learned.”
“If you wish to be good, you will be good.”
“…only you must, then, really wish these things, and wish them exclusively, and not wish at the same time a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.”
In the Bible you will read in Mark 9-23:
“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
My old friend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale put it this way:
“This is one of the greatest laws in the universe. Fervently do I wish I had discovered it as a very young man. It dawned upon me much later in life, and I found it to be the greatest discovery, if not my greatest discovery outside my relationship to God.”
The great law briefly and simply stated is that:
“If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results.”
“If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results.“
“That simple fact,” he went on to say, “is the basis of an astonishing law of prosperity and success.”
In three words:
“Believe and Succeed.”
William Shakespeare put it this way:
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
George Bernard Shaw said:
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Well, it’s pretty apparent, isn’t it?
And every person who discovered this, for a while, believed that they were the first to work it out.
We become what we think about.
Now it stands to reason that a person who is thinking about a concrete and
worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that’s what he’s thinking about.
And we become what we think about.
Conversely, the man who has no goal, who doesn’t know where they are
going, and whose thoughts must, therefore, be thoughts of confusion, anxiety, fear, and worry becomes what they think about. His life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety, and worry.
And if he thinks about nothing…
He becomes nothing.
Now how does it work?
Why do we become what we think about?
Well I’ll tell you how it works as far as we know. Now to do this I want to tell about a situation that parallels the human mind.
Suppose a farmer has some land — and its good fertile land. Now the land gives a farmer a choice. He may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn’t care.
It’s up to the farmer to make the decision.
Now remember we’re comparing the human mind to the farmers land because, the mind, like the land, doesn’t care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant.
Let’s say that the farmer has two seeds in his hand – one a seed of corn, the
other is nightshade, a deadly poison. He digs two little holes in the earth and he plants both seeds, one corn, the other nightshade. He covers up the holes, waters, and takes care of the land.
What will happen?
Invariably, the land will return what is planted. As it is written in the Bible:
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
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.
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way.
It does not 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.
The human mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant.
So you may say, if that is true, why don’t people use their minds more?
Well I think they’ve figured out an answer to that one too. 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.
But the 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.
The human mind isn’t used because we take it for granted.
“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
It can do any kind of job we assign to it, but generally speaking, we use it for little jobs instead of big important ones. Universities have proved that most of us are operating on about 10% or less of our abilities.
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.
What is it you want?
Do you want to be an outstanding salesman? Do you want to excel at your particular job? Do you want to go places in your company? … in your community?
Do you want to get rich?
All you have got to do is plant that seed in your mind, care for it, work steadily towards your goal, and it will become a reality.
It not only will, there’s no way that it cannot.
You see, that’s a law. Like the laws of Sir Isaac Newton, the laws of gravity. If you get on top of a building and jump off, you’ll always go down — you’ll never go up.
And it’s the same with all the other laws of nature.
They are inflexible.
They always work.
Think about your goal in a relaxed, positive way. Picture yourself in your mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you will be doing when you have reached your goal.
Ours has been called a Phenobarbital Age, the age of ulcers and nervous breakdowns and tranquilizers at a time when medical research has raised us to a new plateau of good health and longevity, far too many of us worry ourselves into an early grave trying to cope with things in our own little personal ways, without learning a few great laws that will take care of everything for us.
These things we bring on ourselves through our habitual way of thinking. Every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts. We are where we are because that is 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 are guided by your mind.
I remember one time I was driving through eastern Arizona. I saw one of those giant earth-moving machines roaring along the road at about 35 miles an hour 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 are 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 are 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 for themselves and their family. That very same law can lead them into the gutter.
It’s all in how it is used: for success (good) … or for failure (bad).
This is The Strangest Secret in the world.
Why do I say it’s strange, and why do I call it a secret?
Actually, it is not 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.
I believe you could go out and walk down the main street of your town and ask one person after another what the secret of success is and you probably would not run into one person in a month that could tell you.
This information is enormously valuable to us if we really understand it and apply it. It is valuable to us not only for our own lives, but the lives of those around us, our families, employees, associates, and friends.
Life should be an exciting adventure. It should never be a bore.
A person should work fully, be alive. You should be glad to get out of bed in the morning. You should be doing a job that you like to do because you do it well.
One time I heard Grove Patterson, the great late editor in chief of the Toledo
Daily Blade make a speech. And as he concluded his speech he said something I’ve never forgotten.
“My years in the newspaper business have convinced me of several things. Among them, that people are basically good, and that we came from someplace and we are going someplace. So we should make our time here an exciting adventure. The architect of the universe did not build a stairway leading anywhere. The greatest teacher of all, the carpenter from the Plains of Gallilee gave us the secret time and time again: as ye believe, so shall it be done unto you.”
I’ve explained the Strangest Secret in the World, and how it works.
Now I’d like to explain how you can prove to yourself the enormous returns possible in your own life by putting the secret to a practical test.
I want you to make a test that will last 30 days.
It is not going to be easy, but if you will give it a good try, it will completely change your life for the better.
Back in the 17th Century, Sir Isacc Newton, the English mathematician and natural philosopher gave us the natural laws of physics, which apply as much to human beings as they do to the movement of bodies in the universe. And one of these laws is:
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Simply stated as it applies to you and me, it means we can achieve nothing
without paying the price. The results of your 30 day experiment will be in direct proportion to the effort you put forth.
To be a doctor, you must pay the price of long years of difficult study.
To be successful in selling, and remember each of us succeeds in life to the extent of our ability to sell; selling our families on our ideas, selling education in schools; selling our children on the advantages of living a good and honest life; selling our associates and employees on the importance of being exceptional people.
Too of course, the profession of selling itself.
But to be successful in selling our way of the good life, we must be willing to pay the price.
Now what is that price?
Well it is many things.
First, it is understanding emotionally as well as intellectually that we literally become what we think about, that we must control our thoughts if we are to control our lives. It is understanding fully that:
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
Second, it is cutting away all fetters from the mind and permitting it to soar as it was divinely designed to do. It is the realization that your limitations are self-imposed, and the opportunities for you today are enormous beyond belief. It is rising above narrow-minded pettiness and prejudice.
And third it is using all your courage to force yourself to think positively on your own problem:
And fourth save at least ten cents (10%) of every dollar you earn.
It is also remembering that no matter what your present job, it has enormous possibilities if you are willing to pay the price.
Let’s go over the important points in the price each of us must pay to achieve the wonderful life that can be ours.
It is of course worth any price.
Now, I’ll outline the 30-day test I want you to make, keeping in mind that you have nothing to lose by making this test, and everything you could possibly want to gain.
There are two things that may be said about everyone:
For the next 30 days, follow each of these steps every day until you have
achieved your goal.
First, I want you to write on a card what it is you want more than anything else. It may be more money. Perhaps you’d like to double your income or make a specific amount of money. It may be a beautiful home. It may be success at your job. It may be a particular position in life. It could be a more harmonious family.
Each of us wants something.
Write down on your card specifically what it is you want.
Make sure it’s a single goal and clearly defined. You need not show it to anyone, in fact, often it is best not to.
Carry the card with you so that you can look at it several times a day.
Think about your goals in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way each morning when you get up, and immediately you have something to work for — something to get out of bed for, something to live for.
Look at the goals written on your card every chance you get during the day and just before going to bed at night.
As you look at it, remember that you must become what you think about, and since you’re thinking about your goal, you realize that soon it will be yours.
In fact, it is really yours the moment you write it down and begin to think
about it. Look at the abundance all around you as you go about your daily business. You have as much right to this abundance as any living creature. It is yours for the asking.
Now we come to the difficult part. Difficult because it means the formation of what is probably a brand new habit. New habits are not easily formed. Once formed, however, they will follow you for the rest of your life.
Second, stop thinking about what it is you fear.
Each time a fearful or negative thought comes into your conscious mind, replace it with a mental picture of your positive and worthwhile goal. And there will come times when you’ll feel like giving up. It’s easier for a human being to think negatively than positively.
That’s why only 5% are successful! You must begin now to place yourself in that group.
For 30 days you must take control of your mind. It will think about only what you permit it to think about.
Each day for this 30-day test, do more than you have to do.
In addition to maintaining a cheerful positive outlook, give of yourself more
than you have ever done before. Do this knowing that your returns in life must be in direct proportion to what you give. The moment you decide on a goal to work toward, you immediately are a successful person.
You are then in that rare and successful category of people who know where they are going. Out of every 100 people, you belong to the top five.
Don’t concern yourself too much with how you are going to achieve your goal. Leave that completely to a power greater than yourself.
All you have to know is where you are going. The answers will come to you of their own accord and at the right time.
Remember these words from the sermon on the mount, and remember them well. Keep them constantly before you this month of your test.
“Ask, And It Shall Be Given You”
“Seek, And Ye Shall Find”
“Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You”
“For Every One That Asketh Receiveth
It is as marvelous and as simple as that.
In fact, it is so simple, that in our seemingly complicated world, it is difficult for an adult to understand that all they need is a purpose… and faith.
For 30 days, do your very best.
If you are a salesman, go at it as you have never done before, not in a hectic
fashion, but with the calm cheerful assurance that time well spent will give you the abundance in return that you want.
If you are a homemaker, devote your 30-day test to completely giving of
yourself without thinking of receiving anything in return, and you will be
amazed at the difference it makes in your life.
No matter what your job, do it as you have never done before, and if you
have kept your goal before you every day for 30 days, you will wonder and
marvel at this new life you have found.
Dorothea Brande, the outstanding editor and writer, discovered it for herself and talks about it in her fine book “Wake up and Live“.
Her entire philosophy is reduced to the words:
“Act as though it were impossible to fail.”
She made her own test, with sincerity and faith, and her entire life was changed to overwhelming success. Now, you make your test for 30 full days.
Don’t start your test until you have made up your mind to stick with it.
You see by being persistent, you are demonstrating faith. Persistence is simply another word for faith. If you did not have faith, you would never persist.
If you should fail within your first 30 days, by that I mean you suddenly find yourself overwhelmed by negative thoughts — you have to start over again from that point and go 30 more days.
Gradually, your new habit will form, until you find yourself one of that
wonderful minority to whom virtually nothing is impossible.
And don’t forget the card.
It is vitally important as you begin this new way of living.
On one side of the card, write your goal, whatever it may be. On the other side, write the words we’ve quoted from the sermon on the mount.
“Ask, And It Shall Be Given You”
“Seek, And Ye Shall Find”
“Knock, And It Shall Be Opened Unto You”
“For Every One That Asketh Receiveth”
In your spare time during your test period read books that will help you. Read at least 15 minutes each day. Inspirational books like The Bible, Dorothea Brand’s “Wake up and Live” if you can still find a copy, “The Magic of Believing” by Claude Bristol, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, and other books that instruct and inspire.
Nothing great was ever accomplished without inspiration.
See that during these crucial first 30 days your own inspiration is kept to a peak. Above all … don’t worry!
Worry brings fear, and fear is crippling. The only thing that can cause you to worry during your test is trying to do it all yourself. Know that all you have to do is hold your goal before you; everything else will take care of itself.
Remember also to keep calm and cheerful, don’t let petty things annoy you and get you off course. Now since making this test is difficult, some will say, “Why should I bother?”
Well, look at the alternative.
No one wants to be a failure. No one really wants to be a mediocre individual. No one wants a life constantly full of fear and worry and frustration.
Therefore remember that you must reap that what you sow.
If you sow negative thoughts, your life will be filled with negative things. If you sow positive thoughts, your life will be cheerful, successful, and positive.
Gradually you will have a tendency to forget what you have just learned/ heard. Read this again each week. Download the audio version. Keep reminding yourself of what you must do to form this new habit.
Gather your whole family around at regular intervals and listen to what has
been said here.
Most people will tell you that they want to make money, without
understanding the law. The only people who make money work in a mint. The rest of us must earn money.
This is what causes those who keep looking for something for nothing, or a free ride, to fail in life.
The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products which are needed and useful. We exchange our time and our product or service for the other person’s money. Therefore the law is that our financial return will be in direct proportion to our service.
Success is not the result of making money.
Earning money is the result of success- and success is in direct proportion to our service.
Most people have this law backwards.
They believe that you are successful if you earn alot of money. The truth is that you can only earn money after you are successful. It’s like the man who stands in front of the stove and says to it:
“Give me heat and then I’ll add the wood.”
How many men and women do you know, or do you suppose there are today, who take the same attitude toward life?
There are millions.
We’ve got to put the fuel in before we can expect heat. Likewise, we’ve got to be of service first before we can expect money.
Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service … build … work …dream … create!
Do this and you’ll find there is no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.
Prosperity is founded upon a law of mutual exchange.
Any person who contributes to prosperity must prosper in turn themselves.
Sometimes the return will not come from those you serve, but it must come to you from someplace, because that is the law.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
As you go daily through your 30 day test period, your success will always be
measured by the quality and quantity of service you render, and money is a
yardstick for measuring this service.
No person can get rich themselves, unless they first enrich others.
There are no exceptions to a law.
You can drive down any street and from your car estimate the service that is being rendered by the people living on that street.
Have you ever thought of this yardstick before? It’s interesting. Some, like ministers, priests and other devoted people measure their returns in the realm of the spiritual, but again their returns are equal to their service.
Once this law is understood, any thinking person can tell their own fortune. If they want more, they must be of more service to those he receives his return. If they want less, they have only to reduce their service.
This is the price you must pay for what you want.
If you believe you can enrich yourself by deluding others, you can end only by deluding yourself. It may take some time, but as surely as you breathe, you will get back what you put out.
Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you can avert this. It’s impossible: The prisons and the streets where the lonely walk are filled with people who tried to make new laws just for themselves. We may avoid the laws of men for a while, but there are greater laws that cannot be broken.
An outstanding medical doctor recently pointed out six steps that will help you realize success.
The doctor that wrote those words is a noted west coast psychiatrist, Dr. David Harold Fink. Do what the experts since the dawn of recorded history have told you must do:
Pay the price by becoming the person you want to become.
It’s not nearly as difficult as living unsuccessfully.
Take this 30-day test, then repeat it… then repeat it again.
Each time it will become more a part of you until you’ll wonder how you could have ever have lived any other way. Live this new way and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you more riches than you may have dreamed existed.
Yes, lots of it.
But what’s more important, you’ll have peace … you’ll be in that wonderful minority who lead calm, cheerful, successful lives.
You have nothing to lose — but you have your whole life to win.
This is Earl Nightingale.
Copyright © 2023 Thepowerofthinking - All Rights Reserved.