No. 279

A few weeks ago I got a call from a reader who wanted to know how he could get a copy of an inspirational recording titled, “The Strangest Secret.” This man knew that for several years I was in the motivational business and was associated with the late Earl Nightingale. Even though I did not have a copy on hand I was able to give him a phone number and I found out later that he was able to secure it. He told me that he was a rehabilitation counselor and that he used it to help a number of his clients. This was a story that I heard repeated many, many times over the years.
If you don’t already know I hope by this time you are beginning to wonder, what is the strangest secret? I will be happy to share this with you a bit later but first I want to give you a little background information that hopefully will add some creditability. Several years ago, in fact I don’t remember exactly when, many newspapers across America ran the story of Earl Nightingale as a man who was able to retire with a guaranteed lifetime income of $50,000 when he was only thirty five years of age.
He had made his money in the insurance business and he was also on the battleship Arizona when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Because he was an avid reader and was blessed with a deep golden voice he became a radio announcer with WGN in Chicago. Some of you may remember that he was also the voice of Sky King, the radio series that ran more than forty years ago. Later he started his own radio program titled, “Our Changing World” that was ultimately carried by over 1000 stations and at the time was the most widely syndicated radio program in the history of broadcasting.
As his representative in our state I got to know Earl Nightingale personally and had the privilege of inviting him to our capital city to speak to the Sales & Marketing Executive Association of Little Rock. That’s been a long time ago but I still remember that night at the Pleasant Valley Country Club as though it were only yesterday. Here is the way the inspirational recording “The Strangest Secret” came about. As a writer, radio personality and speaker Earl Nightingale became obsessed with the idea of why one person became a success while another failed.
It would be too simplistic to simply say that one person was handsome, better educated, had more drive, better connections and came from a family of successful people. Along with Earl Nightingale we all know people who defy this logic every day and become highly successful with none of these things. He started searching for the answer soon after World War II but didn’t discover it until New Years day 1950. The strangest secret is so simple that it is not a secret at all because it had been revealed by countless others throughout history. The strangest secret is that “we become what we think about.”
The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “ A man becomes what he thinks about all day long.” The Bible clearly states “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” What made Earl Nightingale’s recording so successful is that he had the ability to explain it in laymen’s terms and make the application so personal that anyone could understand and use it to achieve success in his or her own life. That recording was the first, and maybe only, inspirational message to ever sell a million copies. This was aided by the invention of the cassette player, the same tool that I used for several years to gain many of the insights that I share in my column. The strangest secret is that a person becomes what he or she thinks about all day long. What are you thinking about? (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034)