Book Summary

The Strangest Secret – Earl Nightingale


This book is really about the Law of Attraction, although the author doesn’t mention the Law of Attraction. The author, however, does mention that the Strangest Secret is based on a natural law that never fails, just like the law of gravity never fails.

Implementing The Strangest Secret to create the life you want involves performing three simple steps:

  • Step 1: Write down your goal and think about it in the morning when you get up, just before going to bed at night and several times during the day
  • Step 2: Stop thinking about your fears regarding accomplishing your goal. Act as though it were impossible to fail.
  • Step 3: Focus on providing superb service to others. “Success is in direct proportion to our service.”

The author provides a 30-day plan to implement The Strangest Secret in your life.


The Strangest Secret is: We become what we think about
● We don’t make money. We earn money. And we earn money through the services we provide to others.
● “Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our service”
● We are the sum total of our thoughts. So choose your thoughts carefully.
● We become a success the moment we select a goal and start thinking about it and start working towards it
● The Strangest Secret is a law of nature. It never fails.
● Most people start out in life optimistic and expecting success
● But, by age 65, only five percent are financially successful, being either rich or financially independent
● Why is there such a large disparity between what people intend to do and what they actually accomplish?

o The answer is “The Strangest Secret”


● Before learning the secret to success, it is important to define success
● Here are three definitions of success given by the author:
o “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal”
■ This is the author’s favorite definition
o Success is someone doing what he or she loves to do
o “A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s what he or she decided to do deliberately”
● The author believes that the greatest impediment to success is conformity
o In his book, Man’s search for Himself, Rollo May wrote, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice… it is conformity.”
o Conformity is the cause of so many failures. “People acting like everyone else, without knowing why or where they are going.”
■ We learn to read by age 7
■ We learn to make a living by age 30
■ We often learn to support a family by age 30
■ But by age 65, we haven’t learned how to become financially independent in the richest land ever known. Why? We conform!


● Setting goals in life is crucial. Goals make the difference between success and failure.
● People who set goals are successful because they know exactly where they are going. It’s that simple.
● Failures, on the other hand, believe their lives are shaped by circumstances outside of their control. By things that happen to them.
● Through goals, we define our own destination in life and navigate to it just like a captain and crew navigate a ship to its destination.
o We will be successful because we know where we are going
● Having no goals is like a ship without a captain or crew. It has no destination or guidance and there is virtually zero chance it will reach a successful conclusion


● This is The Strangest Secret… That we become what we think about
● This secret is both the key to success and the key to failure
● It’s strange because very few people have learned it or understood it and it has remained virtually a secret even though it has been known and proclaimed by wise men for thousands of years. It even appears in the Bible.
● Here are some examples of The Strangest Secret being described down through time:
o Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, said: “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
o Disraeli: “Everything comes if a man will only wait… a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfillment.”
o William James: “We need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question were real, and it will become infallibly real by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. It will become so knit with habit and emotion that our interests in it will be those which characterize belief… Only you must, then, really wish these things, and wish them exclusively, and not wish at the same time a hundred incompatible things just as strongly.”
o Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: “If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results.”
o George Bernard Shaw: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if the can’t find them, make them.”
● “A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that is what he is thinking about.”
● “Conversely, the person who has no real goal, who doesn’t know where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety, fear, and worry will thereby create a life of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing … he becomes nothing.”


● The human mind is much like a fertile farmer’s field. It will grow whatever is planted… success or failure
o A worthwhile goal or confusion, misunderstanding, fear and anxiety
o You must decide what to grow in your mind:
■ Therefore, plant your positive, worthwhile goal in your mind. It will be the most important decision you’ll ever make
■ Once you plant your goal, care for it, work steadily toward it and it will become a reality
■ And it must become reality for this is a law of nature, just as gravity is a law of nature and laws of nature never fail to work
● If you jump off a building, you always go down, never up. Likewise, when you plant a seed in your mind and nurture it, it must grow and bear fruit.
● To realize your goal…
o Think about it in a relaxed positive way
o Picture yourself as having already achieved the goal and see yourself doing the things you will be doing when you have realized your goal
o Don’t worry about how you are going to achieve your goal. Leave that to a power higher than yourself. All the answers will come in due time and at just the right time
● We are all the sum total of our thoughts:
o We are where we are today because of our thoughts in the past. We are exactly where we want or feel we deserve to be today, whether we’ll admit that or not
o We are guided by our minds:
■ What we think today will mold our lives and determine where we will be tomorrow and in the future
o But be careful. This same law that can bring us great success can also bring us destruction. It is all in how we use it, for good or ill. So use it carefully and only sow thoughts you want to grow.
● It is important to recognize that you become successful the moment you select a goal to work towards
o This simple act puts you in the top five percent of people

30-Day Action Ideas For Putting The Strangest Secret To Work For You:

● For the next 30 days, follow the three steps below until you have accomplished your goal:
o Step 1. On an index card, write down what you want more than anything else
■ It can be more money, a new home, a new car, a new relationship, etc.
■ Be specific about what you want
■ Make sure it’s a single goal
■ Make sure the goal is clearly defined
■ Carry your card with you and look at it several times a day
■ Think about your goal every morning when you wake up
● Think about it in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way
● Let your goal get you motivated to start your day
■ As you think about your goal throughout the day, remember that you must become what you think about and, since you are thinking about your goal, you must realize your goal. That’s the law. Soon it will be yours.
● And realize that your goal is really yours the moment that you write your goal down and begin thinking about it
o Step 2. Stop thinking about your fears:
■ “Each time a fearful or negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a mental picture of your positive and worthwhile goal”
● This won’t always be easy because it’s a lot easier to think negatively than positively
■ That’s why only five percent of people are successful
■ “Act as though it were impossible to fail:”
● This is the mindset promoted by Dorothea Brande in her book “Wake Up and Live” and is the mindset you should have as you work towards your goal
● “No matter what your goal — if you’ve kept your goal before you every day — you’ll wonder and marvel at this new life you’ve found”
o Step 3. Focus on providing great service to others, not the money:
■ “Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you render”
■ We don’t make money. Only the people working in a mint make money. We must earn our money.
■ “Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our service”
■ We’ve got to put the fuel in the stove before we can expect heat and, likewise “we’ve got to be of service before we can expect money”
■ “Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service … build … work … dream … create! Do this and you’ll find there is no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.”
● Don’t start your 30-day test until you are ready to make a commitment to stick to it
● If you get bogged down or overcome with negative thoughts at some point in the 30 days, just start over and go 30 days more from that point
● Over time, this process and this way of thinking will become a habit for you. Once that occurs, you will become one of the fortunate few to whom virtually nothing is impossible
● “Above all … don’t worry! Worry brings fear and fear is crippling.”
o “The only thing that can cause you to worry during your test is trying to do it all yourself”
o “Know that all you have to do is hold your goal before you; everything else will take care of itself.”
● “Take the 30-day test, then repeat it … then repeat it again.”
o “Each time it will become more a part of you until you’ll ever wonder how you could have ever have lived any other way”
o “Live this way and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you more riches than you may have dreamed existed”
■ In addition to money and wealth, this process will give you peace of mind so that you can lead a calm, cheerful, successful life because you will know that virtually nothing is impossible for you
● “Start today. You have nothing to lose. But you have a life to win.”


• 30-Day Action Ideas for Putting the Strangest Secret to Work for You
• That we literally become what we think about, that we must control our thoughts if we’re to control our lives. It’s understanding fully that: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
• Secondly, it’s cutting away all the fetters from the mind and permitting it to soar, as it was divinely designed to do. It’s the realization that your limitations are self-imposed and that the opportunities for you today are enormous beyond belief. It’s rising above narrow-minded pettiness and prejudice.
• Thirdly, to use all your courage to force yourself to think positively on your own problem; to set a definite, and clearly-defined goal for yourself; to let your marvelous mind think about your goal from all possible angles; to let your imagination speculate freely upon many different, possible solutions; to refuse to believe there are any circumstances sufficiently strong to defeat you in the accomplishment of your purpose. To act promptly and decisively when your course is clear, and to keep constantly aware of the fact that you are, at this moment, standing in the middle of your own acre of diamonds.

• Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.
• It’s easier for a human being to think negatively than positively – that’s why only 5% is successful.
• Positive outlook, give of yourself more than you’ve ever done before.
• Ask and it shall be given you, Seek and ye shall be find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; And he that seeketh, findeth; And to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
• Act as though it were impossible to fail.
• Persistence is simply another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you would never persist.
• The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products which are needed and useful.
• If he wants more, he must be of more service to those from whom he receives and returns; if he wants less, he has only to reduce this service. This is the price you must pay for what you want.
• An outstanding medical doctor recently pointed out six steps that will help you realize success: 1) Set yourself a definite goal. 2) Quit running yourself down. 3) Stop thinking of all the reasons why you cannot be successful, and instead think of all the reasons why you can. 4) Trace your attitudes back through your childhood and try to discover where you first got the idea you couldn’t be successful. 5) Change the image you have of yourself by writing out a description of the person you would like to be. 6) Act the part of the successful person you have decided to become.