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The Mysterious Key - Nightingale

Another essay by Earl Nightingale from the How to Completely Change Your Life Series

The Mysterious Key - Earl Nightingale

Some of my friends and I were, on one occasion, talking in Des Moines, Iowa. One of us told a true story about a young man who quit school after a year in college and went to work as a real estate salesman. The young man was a complete flop in that field, and try as he would, he finally had to face up to the fact. He decided to go back to school. One night at a party he found himself in conversation with a student majoring in chemistry. As the chem major talked, our former real estate salesman found himself becoming tremendously interested. As a result of that evening, he signed up for the chemistry course even though he had never given a thought to a career in science. He was like a bird suddenly released from a cage: He went on to graduate with honors in chemistry and he has since made several notable contributions in that field.

I think this shows the importance of giving yourself a chance to discover what kind of work is right for you. It makes you wonder how many frustrated, unhappy people there are; people who work at jobs they don’t like—and who, as a result, are not successful—because they didn’t find the key that would have fired their energy, ambition, and natural enthusiasm . . . the key to a lifetime career of interest, challenge, and rich reward.

I believe that there is such a field for everyone. It could be any one of more than thirty thousand possible occupations, one of which is certain - to be right for each of us. I suppose the problem is most people are not aware of the almost endless possibilities. Every young man in school should be on the alert for subjects in which he excels and finds interest, because every subject taught in school has within its broad circumference literally hundreds of fields in which a person can be happily and gainfully employed.

If the young real estate salesman had not gone back to school and gained a wider view, he might never have found his real place in the world of chemistry. Instead, he might have drifted all the years of his life from one unsatisfactory field of employment to another.

It is never too late to get into the work that is right for you. One of the happiest people I know went back to college at forty and is now fulfilling a lifetime ambition as a schoolteacher. And it’s not necessary to go back to college. There are thousands of interesting and rewarding jobs that depend on interest and ability rather than educational qualifications. Half the battle is in knowing that somewhere there is a niche just right for you. You don’t mind looking for something when you know for sure it’s there.

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