The Strangest Secret to Success. The Worthy Ideal

How do I succeed? How do I become a success?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve asked myself both questions in a thousand ways over the course of my life. Mostly because once you’re accused of failure enough, success starts feeling like this.

I agree, Tulio. I agree. So, I skated by high school with C’s and D’s and the burning desire shared by most teens to “change the world”! So far, I have not changed the world. But this post is about success anyway. I don’t have to be a superstar to get it. In fact, I’d wager some superstars still think themselves utter failures. ūüėČ

So What Is Success, Anyway?

I’ve found only one definition I can stick by. Mostly because it doesn’t sound like those cheap, clich√©ed posters plastered all over my high school walls. You know, the ones shouting about how your Attitude Determines Your Altitude and all that?

Last I checked, if all you have is a positive attitude, Everest will STILL give you frostbite. Sorry, positive thinking people.

So the definition? Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. I encountered this definition in a sales presentation from 1956 by Earl Nightingale. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The Strangest Secret.

This 32 minutes can change your life. Highly worth the listen. The definition of success I gave above can be found at approximately 1:45 into the video.

By that definition, both my degree in theater, and my certificate for massage therapy, and my massage license were abysmal acts of FAILURE. Because my ultimate goal is to make a living AS A WRITER. I learned a lot. I wouldn’t give up that world experience for anything. But during those years, I was not progressively realizing the ideal of making a living through my writing.

And let’s look at that final phrase. Worthy ideal.¬†Who decides what a worthy ideal is?





I mentioned this post to Shay last night, and after some attempts to understand each other, had this question posed to me:

How do you define your personal success to someone who has loftier goals in mind FOR you?

In my mind, the simple answer is, you don’t. They have already defined a particular brand for success in their mind. What you are doing does not fit this brand. Thus, you are not succeeding. Much of it goes back to this concept of the worthy ideal.

The Worthy Ideal

Everyone expects Elsa, but I feel like Gru in a dress…

Most people get the Ideal half of this phrase. That’s setting a picture of the goal in your mind and going for it. The problem I observe is that so many of us get stuck trying to thrust OUR idea of Worthy onto other people.

Back to Mount Everest. Both climbing Everest, and living a positive life can be worthy ideals. However they are not instantly interchangeable. Living a positive life because you are a positive person in no way makes you fit or experienced enough to climb Mount Everest. And some of the folks who do climb Mount Everest? Well, they did it for personal reasons that had nothing to do with positivity.

So what you see as a worthy ideal will not necessarily be the same as what someone else sees as a worthy ideal. I love writing. I see being a writer as a worthy ideal. Shay loves art and sees being an artist as a worthy ideal.

Many thousands of people see both of these goals as impractical and ridiculous, even childish fantasies, rather than worthy ideals, because they just “aren’t practical”.

A Final Note On Practical

First, set aside half an hour, and go watch that video. I’ll wait. Nightingale NEVER specifies what KIND of worthy ideal he’s talking about. Or how practical it has to be. Here’s why.

Goals are not, by nature, a practical thing. There, I said it. Goals are concerned entirely with what you WANT to happen, in a way, the theory or idea of it happening, and not the actual doing or use of something. Goals DRIVE practical behavior. I want to be a writer, so I write. Shay wants to be an artist, so they agreed to illustrate Dragon Hoard Books. (Don’t forget, another one this Saturday.)

When someone tells you, “That goal you have isn’t practical,” what they’re saying is, It doesn’t fit in my concept of worthy ideal.

In fact, I TRIED going the practical route. I got fully licensed as a massage therapist in Idaho. Then, not only could I not find a job, but anyone keeping up with my blog saw the health crash that happened. I physically COULDN’T be a massage therapist. So the get training, get a day job that pays $20 or so an hour, and then build my writing career slowly if I remembered? Wasn’t practical.

So what do you think? Are your goals worthy of your ideals? Do you see your ideals as worthy? What kind of success do you crave, and what’s your plan to get it? Watch the video, and then let me know in the comments!

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