We produce here the full transcript of the famous speech titled “The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale”. This transcript is without the long intro by Diana Nightingale, widow of Earl Nightingale. We hope that you get inspired by his wisdom and insights.
NOTABLE QUOTE FROM THIS SPEECH:
“Opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice. It is conformity.”
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale
Earl Nightingale – American author
I’d like to 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.
Rollo 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.
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.