In 1956, former World War Two U.S Marine, Earl Nightingale had already experienced the extent of what man was capable of toward another first hand during the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour in late 1941.
Perhaps it was no wonder that after the war ended, he turned to ask the deepest questions about the psychology of the human being.
So, it was in the year of 1956 that he created a record called The Strangest Secret after reading Napoleon Hill’s 1937 classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ It was to start an industry – modern psychology or better known as the ‘self-help’ industry, but it was to become more than just a book or a recording of the steps to a wealthier life. It was about six very important words that could literally change your life, your business, your world:
We become what we think about.
For the purposes of this article and you, the reader, let’s focus on what this means in business.
First, I need to ask you. Where is your business right now in the world? Is it where you want it to be? Are you at a place in your chosen field where you visualised yourself being this time, five years ago? Because if you’re not, then you need to look at what you have been thinking about. Our results today are from the things we were thinking about in the past. Whether we realise it or not, our thoughts have led to the actions that have got us to where we are right now. But there is another element to this and it is that by the time we hit our mid 20’s, we have shifted into a life that everyone else in our chosen world is living.
Earl Nightingale once said that if you took 100 men, by the time they were 65 years old only 5 would be financially secure. The rest, pretty much, would all be broke. He questioned this. What happens to the aspirations of us at 25 that leads us to be somewhere completely different by the time we are old? The answer, Nightingale went on to explain was conformity.
We conform, especially in business and it is a big killer. We do things and make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. Now, this might be great customer research, after all, if someone else is doing something in the same field and it’s working for them, then what’s the harm in doing it too, right?
Yes, BUT only to a point.
What if we took what someone else was doing and packaged it differently? Just to start off with.
First, that must come from a single thought. If we get clear on what it is exactly we envisage for our businesses, then we can make the necessary steps to propel it forward. Very few business owners ARE clear on what they want. They might think they are but there are usually gaps in their thought process.
Most will consider, as stated before, what everyone else is doing and copy it. Doing this doesn’t stick your head above the parapet. It doesn’t make a platform for growth and expansion. It doesn’t put you in a position of leadership and it certainly won’t drive traffic to your business. What you need to be absolutely clear about is where you want to be. The key here is not to focus on how to get there – the why you are doing it comes first. The what ALWAYS comes second.
It is my belief that this is what Nightingale was teaching in his message over 60 years ago, but it requires real thought. There is an old saying that goes only 1% of us take time to truly think. 2% of us think we think and the other 97% of us would rather die than think.
For business, there is nothing else that can kill off hard work and dedication faster than a lack of thinking. Conformity only shows us the path of least resistance, that’s why we do it. So, this week, take time to truly think about where you want your business to go and act on it. Think about the desired goal and work backwards from it asking yourself at every step, ‘what did I do to make that happen?’ Then you will have your plan and a plan that will guide your Navy to where you want to be.