In 1956, Earl Nightingale recorded what would become the first spoken word recording to receive a Gold Record. In a recent interview with Earl’s widow Diana Nightingale (View Interview Here) I learned that he recorded the message for his salesmen before he went on a fishing trip. Earl loved the water and loved fishing but he also took his role as leader very seriously. Leaving a recorded message was unusual for the day but it ensured he would communicate the tone and message in the most effective manner in his absence.

One might picture Earl sitting down to the recorder at his desk. Having written out his intended message and dressed in a dark grey Hickey-Freeman suit, freshly pressed and starched white shirt and conservative tie, his deep and comforting voice would command attention as he leaned slightly forward in is chair.

But I know Earl was far more likely to have recorded the message in a fishing shirt and a pair of jeans. You see, Earl was a real person and if you watch the interview you’ll learn a lot about him and how he looked at life.

The message was intended to inspire the people in his office in his absence. It ultimately would inspire a generation, perhaps not directly with that message, but with the hundreds of thousands of messages and ideas spawned from this one simple thought, “We become what we think about.”

The strangest thing about the strangest secret is that while you become what you think about, your knowledge of what is possible and available to you expands so you are constantly thinking about becoming that which you have yet to see evidence of possible.

This falls directly in line with Earl’s belief that “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.”  

You must think progressively in your quest to become that which you desire.  The fool-hearty believe they will one day arrive at a destination of happiness or success.  But true happiness is dependent upon living.  Living is dependent upon growing because you are either growing or dying. And growing is dependent upon action.

You must have a need or desire to be motivated to act

You must have action to have experience

You must experience to gain knowledge

You must have knowledge to gain competence

You must be competent in one area to grow into another

You must grow in order to be living

You must be living in order to be happy

You must be happy to persist in the face of difficulty

You must persist in the face of difficulty in order to progress toward a worthy goal or ideal

In progressing to a worthy goal or ideal you are exposed to new opportunity and new experience that reveal those things possible you could not imagine.

Much has been said about having a “why” that is big enough to overcome any “how”. While I agree this is important, too often we become so consumed with the “why” and the “how” that we fail to do the “what”. If you’re struggling to achieve that which you know you are capable of an desire to attain, stop thinking and start doing. You’ll find the more you act the more you’ll learn about your “how” and “why”.