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Think positively if you want to succeed

If you are stressed, overworked, unhappy, or poorly rewarded, it could be because that’s what you think about most of the time, hypothesises Kevin Whitehouse.

8th Jun 2020
Owner and founder Prime Entry
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It’s an age-old question: Why do some people succeed and others fail?

One of my all-time heroes, the late, great Earl Nightingale, talks about success in his famous recording from 1956 “The Strangest Secret”. He calls the secret to success “strange” because it's not really a secret – it's been known to man since time began.

In the recording, he quotes people such as Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, who said, “A man's life is what his thoughts make of it", or Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long".

“If you think in negative terms you will get negative results,” said Dr Norman Vincent Peale. “If you think in positive terms you will achieve positive results. That is the simple fact which is at the basis of an astonishing law of prosperity and success. In three words: believe and succeed.”

I’ve listened to The Strangest Secret hundreds of times over the course of my career, and each time I listen, I hear something different.

One of the biggest learnings for me is that the reason people fail in life is that they lack courage, but the opposite to courage isn’t cowardice, it’s conformity: everyone goes around doing what everyone else does. And by doing that they get what everyone else has gotten.

Most accountants, for example, all follow each other, each believing the other is right and thus doing the same.

There are those who step out to be different, proclaim they are different, but still follow the same thinking as everyone else. They try to be different, but their thinking is the same. 

You can be successful: you can own a happy, profitable, stress-free, easy to run practice on your terms if you set the right goals to make this happen.

Nightingale says someone who has no goal, who doesn't know where he or she is going, whose thoughts must, therefore, be of confusion, anxiety, fear and worry, becomes what he or she thinks about.

Just as the soil doesn’t care what seeds are planted in it, your brain doesn’t care if you plant positive or negative thoughts, but it will return to you what you plant. If you talk negatively and believe negative things, your brain will work hard to deliver just that, a negative result. If you think in positive terms, your brain will work hard to deliver a positive result.

Nightingale also quoted George Barnard Shaw, and I think they are wise words for all of us as we deal with the Covid-19 crisis: "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 they can't find them, make them."

If you’re in a rut and looking for inspiration, go and listen to The Strangest Secret. Nightingale even gives you a 30-day test to put your new-found thinking skills to good use.

Millions of people have heard the recording, but sadly most do nothing with it, and here is why: They can’t overcome doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, conformity and lazy thinking – their ingrained and unhelpful thinking habits.

That’s why it’s important to get some help, find a coach to help you, to hold you accountable, because the first challenge is to probably undo years of bad, lazy thinking.

Most accountants are doomed to a life of misery, stress, heartache and a load of work for which many often won't even get paid for. Being coached and mentored by people who understand success surely has to be a sensible move, and the author of this post can certainly help you if you qualify to work with him.

Otherwise, everything you ever need to know about how to become successful you already have access to, and The Strangest Secret is as good a place as any to start your education.

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By Justin Bryant
09th Jun 2020 09:16

This is pretty unscientific analysis. Apart from having good (ideally rich, well connected) parents a lot of it is to do with blind luck as a lot of studies have shown (e.g. Fooled by Randomness book). Identifying causes by asking successful people what's the secret of their success is almost anti-science for obvious reasons (if they aren't obvious go and read a book on selection bias etc.)

One can of course improve one's chances of success simply by working harder/smarter and maximizing successful "white swan" opportunities (by going to parties and meeting people who are likely to provide such opportunities) and avoiding nonsense self-help books (that merely enrich their authors).

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