Several years ago my friend and business coach Jean Kuhn gifted me the recording of Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret. This recording from 1956 which has been transcribed and recorded by several others over the years discusses the power of our thoughts as they pertain to our achievement of success. Mr. Nightingale describes success as “the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” That goal may be a career, money, a new car, a home, a relationship, or any number of other things. However, it should be attainable and you must really deeply wish to have it and be willing to do the work to get what it is you seek. He states that the basic premise of attaining one’s goals successfully is that “we become what we think about.” The power in this is that we must wish to be what we want to be exclusively and not with a million other things which may not be compatible.
I was thinking about The Strangest Secret during the cool-down portion of my DDP Yoga workout routine. Former WWE wrestler and Hall-of-Famer Diamond Dallas Page often quotes Muhammad Ali saying, “The repetition of affirmations leads to belief, and, once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” He then goes to grunt, “You gotta believe,” when doing some stretches – which somehow really drives the point home better when there’s physical movement involved.
What to Do at the Crossroads?
Many people dismiss these mantras of, “if you think it, you can do it,” as dismissable drivel not based in science or fact. In fact, some go so far as to say that this and a dependence on a higher power are detriments to our psychological health.
However, I personally feel that there exists much truth. Any human achievement great or small started with an idea. That idea may have sprung from an incident, but it was the pursuit of that idea which led to something happening.
Within the last two weeks, while making dinner, I streamed the 1980’s movie Crossroads with Ralph Macchio. I really enjoy this flick for a variety of reasons – mostly because of the music, the guitar, and the harmonica. (Truthfully, I enjoy it even more because I had the opportunity to meet Ralph Macchio’s parents who are very kind and generous laundromat owners who have the only self-service laundry business I know with a fancy chandelier.) But, I can’t help but to reflect on the story of Robert Johnson who, legend says, sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesman. In similar fashion, his young friend Willie Brown went to the crossroads to make the same deal with the devil to become a great harmonica player. In the film, many years Ralph Macchio’s character Eugene Martone travels to Mississippi with the now elderly Willie Brown to fulfill his goal to become a bluesman too.
In retrospect, many things in my life have been achieved through mindful thought and application of will. Finding the love of my life, regaining my health, owning a home again after bankruptcy, and having a loving family are all things which have been willfully attained through thought, prayer to God, and the willingness to put in the work.
However, sometimes I feel that I am at a crossroads without belief or conviction – being too many things to too many people or, alternatively, feeling like an imposter unworthy of attaining certain worthy goals. There are certainly some things in my life where I need to get clear about what I want, choose a path, reiterate repetitively my beliefs to affirm them, and become deeply convinced that I will attain that ideal.