A crisp breeze became an alarm clock that time of year. Two brothers sat down with new school supplies at the dining room table. Their mother leaned in from the kitchen, “How do you two think you’ll measure up this year?”
The older brother answered, “Keep my average up to be sure I won’t get cut from the football team, so I can get into college.”
The younger brother said, “Well, just be sure I don’t have to repeat this year, so I can stay up with my class.”
Two brothers. Two goals. One set of goals was specific based on winning, while the other was happy to get by. This is a true story about me and my big brother. He was the one with common sense and drive. As any kid, I couldn’t wait for the school bell. But it wasn’t to go play. It was to go to work. My days of long sessions of window gazing and day dreams were focused on a career already decided. My passion came true at 14 years old with my first job on the radio.
Looking back, school was a short chapter. My real obsession for knowledge was sparked by my determination to win in my career. The process of goal setting never came to mind at my young age, but it was just that. A definite purpose pulled me into my future.
There are many articles based on the technical steps in goal setting, this story is about the journey.
That should be no big surprise as we all know that planning is critical to achievement. The challenge comes in developing a real plan to get real results.
Earl Nightingale wrote many radio broadcast and focused on the topic of goal setting in many of his best selling programs. Even though serious effort must be exercised when setting goals, Earl emphasized the quality of life we should enjoy on the journey to achieving our goals. In one of his thousands of radio broadcasts titled, It’s Not the Destination, he said, “Where a person goes is not nearly as important as how he gets there.”
He continues with an analogy of building a house, “That a house is built is not that important. It is the manner in which it is built that makes it great, average, or poor.”
This consciousness of how we execute the daily tasks needed to reach a goal is far more important than making a list and checking off items. Many of our articles focus on the mechanics of making the various long term and short term goal lists. This article is to focus on our attitude we bring to the completion of each step.
Another Nightingale Conant published author Jim Rohn said this, “Set a goal to make a million dollars. Not because of what a million dollars can buy, but what you become by achieving the goal of making a million dollars.”
In Earl’s broadcast, he said, “People forget what they are really looking for, or what they should be looking for: the discovery of themselves.”
For some of us, our self discovery comes years after the cap and gown ceremonies have been forgotten. The change of the season isn’t important. The change in our daily actions is. On the subject of school and my academic acumen, one day my father and I discussed my time of being a bad student. He said, “What do you mean? You weren’t a bad student. You loved school. You loved it so much you went all year long. You never missed summer school.”
On that, I did do what was needed to not get set back and repeat a year. The question for all of us now comes down to the quality of our efforts in all tasks; both big and small.
“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
Anyone around in the late 70’s and early 80’s can tell you this is the famous slogan from FedEx. Chances are, if you were around in the 70’s, you may have adopted a new personal slogan, “When it absolutely, positively does not matter.”
What will you do when you run out of goals?
In The Secret Advantage, Earl Nightingale tells the story of Fred Smith, who took a mediocre college paper he wrote while at Yale and used the idea to craft the business plan that launched FedEx. The company name is now synonymous with business people all over the globe that say, “FedEx it” instead of “Overnight it.”
He took his passion and made it real. As a young man, he loved aviation and served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam where his duty taught him the ins and outs of logistics.
As Fred Smith entered the age of, “What’s next?” he found a long list of charities and organizations to keep him busy.
Not at all like Warren Schmit, the fictional lead character brought to life by Jack Nicholson in the critically acclaimed and box office success movie, About Schmit. The story is about Warren Schmidt who is forced to retire from his position as an actuary with an insurance company. After a retirement dinner, Schmidt finds it hard to adjust to his new life, feeling useless. After a return visit to his old office, he leaves the building and sees the contents and files of his office, the sum of his entire career, set out for garbage collectors. Schmidt is overcome by loneliness. He stops showering, sleeps in front of the television, and goes shopping with a coat over pajamas to load up on frozen foods. On a footnote to this film, anyone who wants to be an actor must watch Jack Nicholson. The final scene is one of the best examples ever of an actor telling a story with no words, no making faces, just real emotion. He won a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a drama.
Back to the purpose of this article; no one wants to end up like Schmidt.
So, what do we do when we run out of goals?
Earl Nightingale wrote a great story for one of his many radio broadcasts. In that program, he listed these questions:
If you could live your life over and go back to 12 and live your life over, would you do it?
If you could have any career you want, what would it be?
If you could change places with any person on earth, who would that be?
If you could live in any part of the country you would want to live in would you move?
Earl stated that of the numerous studies he had researched on the questions, the vast majority of those surveyed said no.
Why when given the chance to change why do so many resist?
A friend once called his job a position with ‘golden handcuffs.’ Working hard to a point where the risk of change weighs heavier than the reward.
The fact most miss is, most people are all like Schmidt in the movie. Play by the rules, stick to a profession, and one day see your life’s work on the curb with the next stop; the garbage dump. Earl stated in his program that scientists, the self employed, artists, writers, and musicians, seem to escape the peril of wondering what’s next. There’s always a new discovery in science, another song, story or painting. But, what of the insurance actuary like Schmidt. Files in the garbage.
It has been written in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Instead of fearing change, think of these alternatives for your vision of the future:
What do you love to do as a hobby?
Would you make a career of that hobby if it paid?
What do you have to lose if you act on your dream?
And, I love Dr. Robert Schuller’s quote, “What great thing would you do, if you knew you could not fail?”
My father became a great example of a person who never ran out of goals. As a young man, he sang with a big band, and in the Army he was the entertainment direct at Pearl Harbor before it was bombed. After the attack he was a Ranger.
When he returned home he built his annuity with the US Postal Service until he retired. Once retired, he found new work in the private sector. Then, became a building inspector, and finally he returned to his first love. Back to entertaining, he performed hundreds of times singing and telling jokes, some off color, to civic organizations all over Virginia. He raised a lot of money never for himself, but for charities like The Shriners Hospital. I duplicated hundreds of cassettes for him to hand out for donations. When he visited me in Chicago at Nightingale Conant and saw the huge plant cranking out thousands of cassettes a minute, his face looked like a kid in a candy store. On his music, Dad liked to joke, “Mickey Gilley sang than song one time and made a million dollars. I sang it a million times and made ten cents.”
He was a good example of what’s next. Do what you love. He did just that until he was ninety-five, so he perished before his dreams.
Rain bounced off his wide brim trooper hat and rain coat as he approached the cab of the truck. A 60 year old man lowered the window enough to communicate. He spoke in a Cajun drawl, “Officer, what it is up ahead? Road don’t look washed out.”
“We’re not taking chances,” he answered speaking the man’s name in a consoling voice.
The man in the truck pushed the brim of his baseball cap back on his head to wipe his forehead and eyes, “Got to git down there. My dog is locked up in the house.”
“Most places are wiped out. Best be happy you’re alive and think of the future.”
The words ‘think of the future’ are never more poignant than at times of despair and grief. Even when times are good, we all think of the future. Some of our best selling authors address the issue. One of my favorite lines comes from Jim Rohn as he speaks of the power of the ‘pull of the future.’ Zig Ziglar states, “Everything in your past pales in comparison to your vision of the future.”
The way the world can be in the future drives us. All humankind, back to the Stone Age, has stargazed wondering what’s next, but the science of predicting the future is relatively new.
One of the first advocates for a study of the future was H.G. Wells. After success in 1901 with the best seller, Anticipations, he gave a lecture in 1902 titled, The Discovery of the Future. As he spoke, Wells anticipated what the world would be like in 2000. The lecture became another best selling book that accurately forecasted trains and cars moving the majority of the population out of cities to the suburbs. In the lecture, he argued for a “knowability” of the future. He said there are two divergent types of minds. One mind judges and states the importance of the past and the other mind finds it more important to focus on things that will happen in the future. You may be aware of H.G. Wells as the author ofWar of The Worlds.
The novel’s first appearance in hardcover was in 1898. It has been made into numerous movies and was the subject that panicked all America in Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast that listeners believed to be real news. His other science fiction novels include The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. Tragedy was a motivator for Wells. His bright future didn’t look so bright in 1872 when an accident in 1874 left him bedridden with a broken leg. To pass the time he started reading books from the local library, much the same way a young Earl Nightingale found his future. Forecasting has been defined as the process of estimating outcomes in uncontrolled situations. So, how can we empower ourselves to take advantage of the pull of the future?
To be scientific, there are specific fields of study such as:
Probability requires some quantification to determine a confidence level that a specific event will happen. There are enough of mathematical formulas to send us soaring into the oblivion of confusion. Governments rely on this to determine regulations, taxes, and all sorts of ways to control our lives. Insurance underwriters use these models to figure out how much the rest of your life is worth.
Strategic Foresight is a planning tool to enter the realm of the study of the future. Strategic planning requires analysis, but statistics put aside, it comes down to forecasting possible futures, probable futures, and an action plan to move in that direction. Strategic foresight is being hailed in corporate practice to grow both businesses and personal lives.
Think of a three legged stool with each leg dependant on the other on three paradigms:
Foresight to actualize personal goals
Skills to execute organizational business goals to produce profit and growth
Movement toward a better world by forecasting the needs of social issues
Earl Nightingale wrote a great deal about creating a better future. In one of his audio segments in The Secret Advantage he even forecasted events that may happen deep into the 21st century. It is interesting to see that some things have already come true. Most of his practical advice on the future did not rely on complicated math or some sort of detailed matrix, but two simple lists. Call them bucket lists if you wish.
Long range goals could be the big things like cars, homes, travel, college funds, or building a legacy.
Short term goals are things you can get in a relative short period of time such as getting a raise, making a sale, starting a business that will in turn serve the long term goals. In the short term, do not confuse ‘wants’ with ‘needs’. Needs are required items such as having a job; not a goal, but a necessity.
Take time to write out a list of everything you want. The first analysis of your list begs the question if there is something on your list you do not have, why not? What have you done to get what you want, and what have you failed to do? One thing that is guaranteed; your future will be the result or consequence of what you do today. In another related article, we’ll discuss, “What happens when you run out of goals?”
In the meantime, dig deep into the core fundamentals on The Secret Advantageand you will find out what needs to be done to get anything you want.
An entire generation of mostly young men came back from the Pacific and Europe with a hope of a better life they kept alive by fighting enemies over there. Crowds waved flags along packed sidewalks and confetti filled the sky above the streets with each parade of soldiers back in the states. Women and men of World War II were cut from strong cloth. Strands of that cloth bound them together in the struggle to win, and now formed a new bond to build, grow, succeed, and create a world worth living. Hope everywhere was high, even the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series. The local radio station played Frank Sinatra singing, “Put Your Dreams Away.”
Those lyrics, “Wishing on a star never got you far, and it’s time to make a new start”, filled the cab of the car until the driver clicked the radio off as the car pulled to a stop in front of KTAR Radio.
The young driver marched through the lobby and swung open the thick sound proof door to the studio.
Behind the double pane glass window an engineer nodded to the guy. In the control room, the second hand notched its way around the large face of the Western Union clock hung over the other side of that double glass window.
The engineer puffed a Lucky Strike and a suited man walked in, “What’s network doing?”
Both guys laugh, “That guy really thinks he’s going to make it to the big time.”
That young man they nicknamed ‘Network’ was Earl Nightingale.
Earl adjusted his collar, stood tall before the microphone, cleared his throat, and looked over the copy finding just the right words to emphasize. He rehearsed. But more than the guys in the control room could see, Earl Nightingale visualized himself as he planned to be, not as he was. His training to focus, his study of Napoleon Hill, and his burning desire to rise to the top worked together to prove a powerful point. Six words that changed his life and the lives of millions he would never meet. There are just six words.
We become what we think about.
Those two guys in the control room and others at the local station warned Earl about the huge risks of trying to make it in the big time. Earl packed his car for Chicago. As the car pulled away, the engineer from the station struck a match, and sucked in smoke from another Lucky Strike and told his buddy, “He’ll be back.”
Earl Nightingale never looked back. It wasn’t long until his friends heard Earl Nightingale star on a national radio drama as Sky King.
Her eyes are locked on the computer screen at the register. She looks up over the rim of her glasses to address the distraction you pose, “Can I help you?”
This interaction happens in every restaurant, department store, boutique, or anyplace where there is a need for a human. The question to offer help automatically triggers a strong “No” response, since people don’t want to be bothered by salespeople. Yet, the offer to help is asked millions of times everyday. Untold fortunes are dismissed.
Earl Nightingale began transforming lives with six words, “We become what we think about.”
Earl also shared another six words that is the absolute foundation for success, “Find a need, and fill it.”
These words drive sales and launch businesses and even entire industries.
Earl goes on to say, “The extent of your success will be determined by the need’s importance and your ability to fill it. The size of your success is controlled by the number of people it serves and the extent of the need it fills.”
Good salespeople know to resist the ease of asking any question that can be answered, “No.”
Great salespeople always dig for the driving need a customer has. Once known, the sales process becomes easy and nearly automatic.
The question, “What do you need?” is better than ‘what you want’ because wants may not be so easily satisfied whereas businesses do fulfill needs.
On a larger scale, the secret sauce to business success, fame, and fortune comes from the answer to that mantra, “Find a need and fill it.”
An exercise to do this requires two things:
The need must be a real need and not contrived. It must ring true.
A true need may not exist until the entrepreneur defines the need.
Today we all must have some form of computer. That need did not exist until Bill Gates dreamed of the day that every household will have at least one personal computer.
The true underlying need was the need for a tool to speed up executing repetitive boring activities.
In The Secret Advantage, Earl tells one of many stories about a friend who transformed his gasoline service station into a full service convenience store to fill the need for customers to buy items they needed as they waited for their cars to be services. The Earl Nightingale message forced me to ask, “Do people really need another Earl Nightingale program?”
Sure, listening to Earl is encouraging and entertaining, but is there is significant clear and real need to hear what he has to say? The real underlying need for another new Earl Nightingale program can be summed up with one word, “Future.”
What promise lies ahead? Each of us seeks a better future. The pull of the future makes us move. Our vision of the future creates the world we live in. Earl Nightingale’s life work is a resource that has inspired innovation and motivated millions to discover their own personal idea of the future they want.
Therefore, my answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
Yes, we need the wisdom and mentorship of Earl Nightingale today more than ever to release a powerful future.
The word, “sentence,” conjures a judge’s stern face popped out of a black robe ready to doom you with one stroke of a gavel.
The good news is the sentence referenced here has nothing to do with punishment. The challenging news is your need to draft the most important grammatical unit in language. One sentence formed by words connected in a sequence that communicates a complete thought. This is the sentence you will be remembered for as your life’s mission.
In The Secret Advantage, we learn how important just six words are from Earl Nightingale. At the end of this post, we have examples of last sentences that literally changed the world. Follow the steps in the exercise and you will accelerate you career and life to any level of success you want.
Step One: Imagine you have been invited to address a large television audience.
Millions of people around the world will hear this address and they will remember you as this address will be about your achievement and your purpose in life.
Step Two: You are allowed only one sentence. Just one.
How can you sum total all of your life’s work into only one sentence. If you can do this, you will create an unbeatable pull into the future, as this one sentence will be the headline of your goal and mission statement. This will take some work, so here are the exercises:
Exercise One: Write down the first thing that comes to mind concerning what you want to do.
Exercise Two: Imagine you are the audience, not the speaker, to test whether you believe the statement. Be ruthless in your critique. How would you tear the statement apart?
Exercise Three: Re-write the sentence. Make it ring true.
Exercise Four: Tear this new version to shreds.
Exercise Five: Revise, revise, revise until you have shaped the most powerful statement you can.
Exercise Six: Carry this statement with you daily.
Exercise Seven: Re-visit and revise your sentence every year.
You will be shocked at the progression of your statements. When you’re young, your statement may have to do with twenty million dollars. That statement will morph into a new statement about what you will do with twenty million dollars when you are seventy.
You were promised some examples in the opening of this post. First, Earl Nightingale’s motivating sentence came from Napoleon Hill. The sentence is just six words, “We become what we think about.”
Those simple six words changed Earl Nightingale’s life and millions around the world that have enjoyed positive impact from Nightingale Conant.
Want a real and proven example of the power of one sentence?
In the dark that night long ago, the man knew he would die the next day. Candle light brushed his skin leathered by dry heat, sun, and dust of a desert. He stood as a man beyond his young age. He did not have an audience of millions on TV. He stood before twelve trusted friends. Here is his sentence, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
How’s that for just eight words?
One simple sentence quoted from John 13:34 in the Bible.
Jesus gave his one last sentence to twelve friends that made up his mastermind group. Eight powerful words given at a time he knew another kind of sentence would be faced within hours; the other kind of sentence ordered by a judge. His brief statement has changed the lives of billions over two thousand years as those words became the basis of a new religion. A lot can happen with just one sentence.