Leadership Barometer 139 The Strangest Secret

This rule for living comes from Earl Nightingale, a member of the International Speakers Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame up to his death in 1989. Earl produced several books on personal leadership and wrote over 7,000 radio and television commentaries on how we can lead better lives. His famous program “Lead The Field” is my all-time favorite program for inspiration. It is available through The Nightingale Conant Company.

The Pursuit of a Worthy Goal

Here is the secret to a long and prosperous life (in every sense).  When we are being “successful” is when we are pursuing a worthy goal.  Earl discovered this law several decades ago.  His famous “strangest secret” is only six words long….”We become what we think about.” As we put forth extreme effort in pursuit of our goals, that is what gives meaning to life. 

When we reach the goal, it is like a signpost along the road that we have arrived at that point in our life.  It is right and smart to take a deep breath and celebrate with our loved ones who have supported us in the challenging times.  Take some time to rest and to feel the great peace that comes from achieving your goal. Share the credit, because you did not do it alone.

Create a New Goal

Now comes the crucial part.  Do not let too many days go by before you set your next goal in life.  It may be completely different from the one just achieved. For example, someone who has studied for years to get an advanced degree may set a goal to climb a mountain or to become an excellent speaker or artist. 

The point is to not rest on the past achievement of a worthy goal too long. You must envision your next goal because that is how you get the most value in life.

Thornton T. Munger wrote, “There is no road to success but through a clear, strong purpose. Nothing can take its place. A purpose underlies character, culture, position, attainment of every sort.”

Lay out a Strategy

Once you have set your goal, it is time to lay out your strategy for achieving it. This strategy is so valuable because it will help you regulate your effort to focus energy on the necessary tasks to attain it and not become distracted with other activities that cause overload.

You know when you are stretched too thin if performance starts to lag.  It is really a fascinating area of life. You can always add another activity, but at some point you would be better off taking something off the plate.

If you create a solid strategy for your life, then you will know what things to add and what things to prune.  It is a really important concept in living well, and it is one that many people just arrive at by default. The most accomplished people do not leave it to chance, rather they own their destiny.


What you achieve in life is a function of how you run your life. Make sure you have a worthy goal at all times. Celebrate the achieving of one goal by setting a new one.  Combine the goal with a focusing strategy, and you will be amazed at the level of achievement and satisfaction you can pack into your precious years on this planet.


Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations..



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