The Lessons of Earl Nightingale
#1: Thinking

Most of you reading this have never been taught how to think. You may have learned some facts, figures and formulas, some tips and tricks, but there is no class in college called “Actual Thought." I am going to talk to you about my thoughts on thinking (tee hee) and the possible applications of this thought. It is my opinion that adding time to think to your life, can help you progress in almost every aspect of it.

In my personal development path, it was recommended that I listen to the works of Earl Nightingale. Earl Nightingale was a radio personality and a speaker who is the only person to ever receive a gold record for a spoken word recording.

I found a copy of Earl Nightingale's audio program, “Lead the Field" and started working my way through it. There were many great and timeless concepts on the program: the money you make is equal to the service you put out, your acres of diamonds are typically right in your backyard, etc. The one that struck me almost immediately was the power of thinking.

Mr. Nightingale suggested that you put aside just an hour a day for thinking. He said to sit down with a cup of coffee (which, I wouldn’t do myself because I gave up caffeine) and a sheet of paper and just write down my thoughts. He gave me the opportunity to write down things I thought of that could make my life better and more efficient. In my years of schooling, no teacher had ever asked me to do that. 

Sure, I’ve brainstormed for a paper before or gotten into one of those ridiculously unproductive group projects where just one person ends up doing the work of four. But I had never just been sat down with paper and pencil and told, “don’t worry about other stuff right now, just think about yourself and your future." The results were incredible.

I began to brainstorm new ideas to improve different aspects of my life. I figured out how I could afford to go on a mostly raw food diet and how I could spend more time with my girlfriend. I came up with ideas for my theatre/film company and how to become more efficient at what I was doing. My days ended up being planned better and I felt like I was starting to accomplish nearly twice the amount of work that I had previously been doing. I was starting to get ahead of where I was and I have never looked back.

Now, some of you will read this and say that an hour a day is way too much time to give for just sitting around and hoping for some brilliant thought to hit me. Fine. Give it ten minutes a day for a week, and if you make it through that, try a month. If you find that you have been able to get more accomplished as a result, bump it up to 20 the next month. Then thirty. I have a feeling that you’ll find it so worth the time that you will naturally try to incorporate it into your schedule.

Now, once you get this into your individual repertoire, how can you further apply this principal?

You can bring other people into the mix. And while they might not jibe with it at first, they will understand the benefits of it after they see the positive consequences.

Some examples:

  • Sit down with your wife/husband/partner/boyfriend or girlfriend and think about how you can make the relationship better, stronger or just plain more fun.
  • Sit down and talk with your child and ask him to think about how you can be a better parent to them and how they can be a better kid to you.
  • Do some thinking with members of your family.
  • Try to hammer out some thoughts with a co-worker or even with your boss!
  • An enemy or a perceived enemy is worth sitting down with and doing some thinking.

Just as with everything, I am sure that you have even more examples in your own life. I think that you should make every effort to improve your life in this way. What do you have to lose? If there is something that you are trying to avoid talking about, you may as well get it out in the open (it’ll come out anyway and when you least expect it otherwise). If you think that a person won’t be interested in “thinking" with you and you are afraid of the rejection then you might as well go for it. The possibility of a one-time rejection is not nearly bad enough to offset the potential gains of a new established habit of actual thought.

If you are able to add thinking to your life and your relationships, you can essentially make every part of your life more efficient.

As with all of the ideas you find on this website, I would try them for 30 days and see how they work for you. I mean, let’s face it, you wouldn’t have stumbled onto this site if you didn’t need to change things in your life a little. Integrating something like this into your life is hard at first, but it may help you make the changes you’ve needed to grow in your day-to-day lives and relationships.

You should go for it…I think :).

Related Articles to Earl Nightingale #1
The Lessons of Steve Pavlina #1: 30 Days of Success
The Lessons of Stephen Covey #2: Leadership versus Management
Stopping my Self-Sabotage and the Aftermath
Daily Motivation: The Morning (Part 1)

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Done with Earl Nightingale #1?
Go back to "Personal Time Management"

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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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