The Strangest Secret

The third of Agoge Fitness Systems' Core Values is "Never stop learning." I try and embody that principle everyday.

Given the nature of my work and the length of my days, I'm not the reader I once was. Samantha can tell you that once my head hits the pillow I'm not long for this world. I'm usually asleep in a matter of minutes. When I do try and read, especially at the end of a day, I rarely get two or more pages in before the print starts to swim and I get drowsy.

My solution has been audio books. Several years ago I took up a subscription with Audible.com and I use my commute to and from work to absorb new knowledge.​

At present I'm listening to Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale.​ This particular book was recommended to me by Dan John during our last workshop together in Nashville. That recommendation is one of the finest gifts he's ever given me.

Earl was a public speaker and radio personality in the 1950s and up until his death in 1989. Born in 1921, Earl was a child of the Depression. His father abandoned him, his mother, and two brothers in 1933. Short on resources the family moved into a government issue tent inside a Hooverville just outside of Long Beach, California.

During this time Earl had the opportunity to see first hand the disparity between the very, very poor of his neighborhood and the very, very rich of Southern California.​ It left him with the burning question of why? Why are there rich people and poor people and what sets them apart?

As a youngster, I didn't know anything about a sense of achievement, but I was all too aware of being poor. It didn't seem to bother the other kids but it bothered me. What made it all the more exasperating to me, as a boy of 12, was to be poor in Southern California, where there seemed to be so many who were rich...I decided to find out why some people were rich while so very many of us were poor.

Fortunately for Earl, his mother was a reader and she encouraged a love of books in her sons. “Knowledge is everything; everything you want to know has been written down by someone,” she told them. As young Earl searched for the answer to his questions he spent more and more time in the library, searching for the secret of success. This led to reading books on philosophy, history and religion.

Finally, in 1950 he came across what he believed to be that secret. Found in a book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, he read the line, "We become what we think about."

While reading, it suddenly dawned upon me that I had been reading the same truth over and over again for many years. And all of a sudden, there they were, the words, in the proper order that I had been looking for 17 years...Those six simple words, in that order, revolutionized my life.

Earl went on to make several recordings and written works promoting the idea that we truly are in charge of our own destinies. Lead the Field is a collection of 12 essays speaking to various aspects of personal development and how you can begin to take charge of your life.

I'm sure I will refer back to Earl's work often as I continue this blog, but today there is one point that really resonates with me and is forming the basis of my current approach to life.

We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.​

Ouch.

I can't tell you how many times I have told myself that my financial struggles and frustrations with growing Agoge Fitness Systems were because we were "rare fruit." I wanted to believe that the services Agoge Fitness Systems provided were ones that most people just didn't realize they needed, that I suffered from a cultural and intellectual bias that prevented most people from realizing the value of what I offered. Not only is that kind of thinking foolish, it's dangerous.​ In order to protect my ego I was threatening my livelihood and my ability to provide for my family. Luckily for all of us, my girls are more precious to me than a fabricated sense of well being.

Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.​

If you are not happy with what you're getting out of life, the first place you need to look is at what you are putting into it. Earl uses the analogy of the man who sits in front of an empty stove expecting heat. The wise man understands you must first load the stove with wood in order to get any heat from it. And yes, I know that's an archaic metaphor, but I use a wood stove so this one particularly resonates with me.

So here's the deal. I want more from my business.

I love what I do. I love working with and helping people. I love being physical and getting to spend all of my time in the gym. Working on myself and helping others work on themselves is nothing short of the perfect job for me.​ To this end I get a lot from my work. My sense of well being and living up to my purpose is very high.

But I can do better.

I have financial goals, both for myself and for those who work for me. I have already learned that the quality of my life directly affects the quality of my work. I give a lot. I give of my time, my energy, my compassion, and my knowledge. Just as I've told many of you, in order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself. And, like many of you, I've struggled with the seemingly selfish aspect of that. It's as if we fear that if we start taking care of ourselves we won't stop. That it'll just become about us and we'll become the very thing we fear most - selfish, greedy, egotistical.

We fear this because, in some ways, we are. The givers among us are just better at holding down the selfish parts. We've managed to conquer that aspect of our personalities and keep it firmly pinned underfoot. We fear that if we were to relinquish our hold we'd never get it back.​

Earl shows us how limited our thinking is. Our reward will always be in exact proportion to our service. Want more? Then do more. Be more. Give more. Be of service.

And that's the kicker. We don't get to decide what service is. My opinion of my work doesn't matter.​ Not really. What matters is what you think of my work. Does it have value for you? Is it of service to you? That is what makes all the difference.

To our perfect imperfection,

Dave​

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