For years I always thought I was weird because when I explained my worldview to people I’d get strange looks. I’d tell them “x” was going to happen because I refused to accept any other outcome. When “x” happened, I was told I was “lucky.” When it happened again I was told that I always find a way to “worm” my way into advantageous situations. When it happened again I was told things “always have a way of working out” for me.

Recently I was talking to a friend a mine about some things that will happen a year or two from now and she said, “Doug, you’re talking about your book as if it’s already published. You’re still writing it!” and I replied, “It is done. It’s published. It’s already happened. We’re just not there yet.” You can guess what kind of look I got…

It is because of these experiences that I was overjoyed when I ran across an audio recording by Earl Nightingale. I had never heard of the man before, but as he was talking I felt as if I knew exactly what he was going to say before he said it. I started mouthing the words as he was talking and it felt as if he was speaking through me. I had never heard the recording in my life, but it was as if I heard it 1,000 times.

“Finally!” I thought. “Someone who gets it!” I still don’t know much about him, but a quick internet search reveals he was born in Los Angeles, a radio host, motivational speaker, and Marine. I’m a USC Trojan, I’ve been on the the radio, I love motivational speakers, and I’m former-Army. I’ll cut Earl some slack for throwing off that last one…

Long story short, when he talks about what it takes to achieve success he couldn’t be more correct. I have included an excerpt from the video below, although if you get a chance I suggest listening to the whole thing.

Why do we become what we think about? We’ll I’ll tell you how it works as far as we know. Now to do this I want to tell you about a situation that parallels the human mind.

Suppose a farmer has some land and it’s good fertile land. Now the land gives the farmer a choice: he may plant in that land whatever he chooses — the land doesn’t care. It’s up to the farmer to make the decision. Now remember, we’re comparing the human mind with the land because the mind, like the land, doesn’t care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant.

Now let’s say he has two seeds in his hand. One is a seed of corn. The other is nightshade, a deadly poison. He digs two little holes in the earth and he plants both seeds — one corn, the other nightshade. He covers up the holes, waters and takes care of the land, and what will happen? Invariably, the land will return what’s planted. As it’s written in the Bible: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Now remember, the land doesn’t care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it does corn. So up come the two plants — one corn, one poison.

Now, the human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land but it works the same way. It doesn’t care what we plant. Success. Failure. A concrete worthwhile goal, or confusion. Misunderstanding, fear, anxiety and so on. But what we plant it must return to us. You see, the human mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant.

Now you might say, ‘Well, if that’s true, why don’t more people use their minds more?’ …

Our mind comes with standard equipment at birth. It’s free, and things that have been given to us for nothing we place little value on. Things that we pay money for, we value. The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true. Everything that is really worthwhile in life came to us free.

Our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our intelligence, our love of family and children and friends and country — all these priceless possessions are free. But the things that cost us money are actually very cheap and can be replaced at any time. A good man can be completely wiped out and make another fortune. He can do that several times. Even if our home burns down, we can rebuild it. But the things we got for nothing we can never replace.

The human mind isn’t used because we take it for granted. Familiarity breeds contempt. It can do any kind of job we assign to it, but generally speaking we use it for little jobs instead of big important ones. …

So decide now: What is it you want? Plant your goal in your mind. It’s the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life.

Bravo. I can’t even begin to describe what it felt like for me to hear this for the first time. It was like all of the things I had privately thought for years and largely kept to myself were shared with this man.

I’m not a very touchy-feely sort of guy, but I think that if I ever met Mr. Nightingale during his lifetime I would have shaken his hand and given him a great big bear hug.

If you get a chance, I highly suggest listening to the whole thing.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

7 comments

  1. If you like this line of thinking, you need look no further than the Buddha. In the Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha – a nice travel companion in your bag, about 2×3 inches), line 1 page 1 is:
    With our thoughts we make the world.

    This phrase has power far beyond the economy of its words.

  2. Its a worrying state when someone who works hard towards a goal and then succeeds is seen as someone who is “lucky” or has “worm”ed their way into advantageous situations. Worse still when you get told things “always have a way of working out” for me.

    In order to achieve anything you have to believe it will happen. Unfortunately a lot of people stop at that point. They don’t put in the work necessary and then whinge about their life being unfair.

    Each and everyone of us is where we are because of our decisions. There are some situations out of our control and if you happen to be caught in one it can be devastating.

    Keep working hard Doug.

    1. I’ve never heard of Earl Nightingale, either, but his philosophy is very similar to mine. I have a very similar mindset. I already tell people that my book is done but I haven’t reached the point where it is done yet. People routinely give me weird looks when I say stuff like that. I believe in myself and that I can pull this off.

      You’re right about people who don’t put in any work and whine about life being unfair, Andrew. They’re the same people who think that when you achieve your goals, you’re “lucky” and wormed your away into an advantageous situation. They don’t understand that in order to achieve your goals, you have to believe that you can pull it off.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I just felt burned out by the blog and the fact that I felt I should be spending more free time on my book as opposed to blogging. I don’t rule out a possible return to blogging at some point, however. Maybe after I get my book done, I’ll start a new blog that I can use to promote my work. If I don’t return to Blogger, I may look into starting a WordPress blog.

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