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The Lessons of Earl Nightingale #2: Attitude

One of my favorite personal development gurus was a pioneer of the instructional audio program by the name of Earl Nightingale. When I first heard Nightingale's famous Lead the Field, I was struck by his deep resonant voice and his no-nonsense message. While Nightingale's products were created in an another era, the go get 'em move up in the business world of the 1950s and 60s, what he has to say is just as applicable for the writer and creative person of today.

While the prolific, Mr. Earl Nightingale spoke on many topics, the first he addressed in "Lead the Field" was the subject of attitude. Nightingale's belief that attitude was a sort of "golden rule" of the business world in that you needed to treat other people how you want to be treated. If you aren't interest in the business of other people, they won't be much interested in yours. If you interview for a freelance writing gig and you don't seem terribly excited about the position, they'll assume that you aren't the right person for the job.

This also ties in with the propensity for people to complain about anything and everything you can think of. Would you be surprised to hear that the people who complain less frequently and exhibit a better attitude tend to do better in life? Would you want a barista who seems like he's in a bad mood to make your latte? How about a doctor who's complaining about the hospital he works in; would you want him performing your surgery? If the answer is no to both of these questions than why would you assume that complaining about your life and circumstances would do anything more than hold you back.

In an effort to explain away your behavior, you might say that you're simply commiserating with your fellow oppressed co-workers and say that "Everybody's doing it!" Earl Nightingale likes to say that about five percent of the people do what's necessary to really make it to the top of their fields. If you want to do what the majority of the people are doing, that's fine by me, but it will probably keep you out of that top five percent you might be striving for.

Nightingale suggests that you do a 30 day trial in which you treat everybody you come into contact with like he or she are the most important people in the world. I would add the act of "not complaining or blaming" during that month-long span as well. If you can keep it up for 30 days and you notice people treating you with a likewise positive attitude, then you may be interested in continuing that attitude adjustment for a lifetime. 

Done with Earl Nightingale and Attitude? Go back to Motivation Techniques.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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