Is this altruism?
No man can get rich himself unless he enriches others.
Not a chance.
Here's a video of the speech, although calling this a video is a bit of a stretch. It's just a picture of Earl Nightingale with the audio. But it is well worth watching.
I listened to this once before about a year ago and loved it. Then I forgot about it. Well, I just listened to it again. I'm glad I did. Really, really glad...
I read somewhere that this self-help speech is the one that has most been listened to in human history.
I believe it.
There are two parts I found really interesting this time around.
1. The high-end achievers and producers of yesteryear had a vision of Christianity that differed greatly from the vision that is now popular in the mainstream. They saw it as a recipe for self-reliance and self-responsibility in first priority, not as a command to take care of the weak. For those who get turned off by the Christian messages in Nightingale's talk, it's good to remember this.
Notice that Nightengale's advice is to establish something you desperately want as your main goal, not serve God or serve the weak. He talks about serving others, but within the context that we live in a society fundamentally based on trade, not charity. (He even goes further and insinuates that this is the way the universe works, but I let that slide. It's a little too simplistic, although it works great on the metaphorical level.)
This is very much in line with Rand's view. She ranted and railed against "looters" who pilfered wealth from others instead of providing it. Her heroes "enriched others" through productive work well before they received their own wealth. And they did so out of commitment to their own personal goal. They wanted something for themselves, they wanted it dearly, so they obtained that something by providing wealth to others, who then paid them back a rich reward.
It sounds like altruism, but this is selfishness to the nth degree.
2. Nightingale's secret "law"--that we become what we think--certainly operated on Rand's life. When she thought in grandiose positive themes and provide effort, she overcame enormous odds and shot to the top of her profession. Once she started thinking negatively, she attracted so many negative things around her that her life and career essentially stagnated. After reading many accounts--attacks, defenses and otherwise--of Rand's life by people who knew her or observed her, including her televised interviews and recorded speeches, I don't see any other conclusion than she was not a happy woman at the end of her life. It seems that the more negative she became, the more bitter and unhappy she became. If you go though the material available, there is a definite descending line up to her death.
Rand literally became what she thought.
When I take the glorious part from Rand's works, this is something I have made it a point to be careful about. Rand articulated well her outrage and contempt. I find it very easy to fall off into imitating that, even as I pursue my own goals. Especially when I think about politics. But then, I notice that when I get into that state, my own life starts going in that direction. And I don't get very much done.
So I am grateful for the Earl Nightingales out there along with Ayn Rand. He, and other inspirational thinkers, help keep me focused on my own happiness, on becoming a source of wealth for others and on achieving my own wealth. And most of all, remembering to keep my thoughts centered on what I want to become and achieve.
I hope this little speech by Earl Nightingale has the same effect on some of you. After all, we are all good people who can become great or evil depending on how and what we think. That's our nature.
I wish greatness for you.