Is there someone you look to as a primary influence—someone who fundamentally changed your way of thinking, for all time to come? Perhaps it was an author, a pastor or a motivational speaker.
For me, that person was Earl Nightingale—more specifically, his set of audio tapes called Lead the Field. The first time I heard these tapes as a teenager, back in 1987, Earl’s words lodged deep in my mind. Over the years, I’ve listened to his series time and again, and it continues to shape my whole approach to entrepreneurship. It informs the way I guide my lawyer clients toward building successful law firms.
Who Was Earl Nightingale?
Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) was an author, speaker and radio personality whose words of inspiration and motivation earned him the nickname “Dean of Personal Development.” Growing up in poverty after his father abandoned the family, Earl developed a lifelong obsession with the question, “What is the secret to success?” He strove to understand why some people were rich and some were poor, and the difference between them. He began his radio career as a volunteer while serving with the Marines, until becoming a successful radio personality with his daily program, Our Changing World.
In 1956, his recorded essay The Strangest Secret became the first spoken-word record to achieve Gold Record status, according to nightingale.com. Years later, his audiobook Lead the Field became known as the “Program of Presidents,” due to the number of top business professionals citing it as an influence (myself included).
The Majority Is Often Wrong
So much of Earl's idea struck an immediate chord with me. But one insight, it took me years to fully appreciate. That being: The majority is often wrong.
Perhaps I didn't grasp the idea immediately because it's advice that many would consider controversial. When everyone else is talking about the “wisdom of crowds,” Earl was saying that most people have the wrong approach. Those with monumental success are those who have rejected the conventional wisdom. To the point that, if you want success, just look at what the majority is doing and do the opposite.
You can prove this theory by looking at the many formulae “self-helpers” offer as their keys to success. Many people may buy their books and try to apply the principles, but only a few find success (and often, it's the people who wrote the books). Don’t just follow the crowd trying to succeed. Look at the minority who succeed. What are they doing differently? What sets them apart from the rest?
Which leads to the next set of questions: What are you doing differently? What can you do that will set you apart from the rest?
In the next post, I’ll share another piece of wisdom from Earl, and explain how to answer those questions, and see how those responses can help you grow your law firm.