This audio contains eight of the best success principles taught by the late Jim Rohn as reported by his protege, Chris Widener. Below are those eight principles. There is some overlap, but Jim Rohn was always an astute observer of the human condition as it relates to achievement and personal fulfillment. Enjoy!
1. Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.
Naturally, success does not occur overnight. Successful students are successful, because they have taken copious notes, done their assignments (and then some), and studied for their exams — week after week, month after month, year after year. The valedictorian doesn’t wake up the valedictorian the 179th day of school his senior year. She has practiced these disciplines on a daily basis since the beginning of 9th grade.
Similarly, failure is not a single cataclysmic event. You don’t start the school year off passing, and on day 2 find that you are failing. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day. Think about this lesson. Do people one day “realize” that they are 50 pounds overweight? It’s not like they went to bed 50 pounds lighter than when they woke up.[“Failure Click To Tweet
The interesting takeaway is that none of these events — good or bad — happens suddenly without warning. Rather, they are a result of just a few errors in judgment repeated on a regular basis (i.e., daily). The path to Average, like the path to Awesome, is directly impacted by what you do every day of your life. Our daily choices either bring us to failure or to success.
Short-term tasks × time = long-term accomplishments
Where are you today? And how did you get there? How long have you been executing that daily discipline or that daily error in judgment? A week? A marking period? All year? Many years? The longer you wait to make disciplined choices, the longer it will take to become successful. But if you’re willing to take responsibility for where you are, you can become a very powerful change agent.
2. A formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.
Think about that for a minute. In my classroom, I will often ask why students think it is that some students succeed, and some fail. We are blessed to be born in America. We are free to be whatever we want to be, to earn what we want to earn, to marry who we want to marry, to pursue the goals we want to pursue. We are all free to be whatever and whoever we want to be.
Almost all kids graduate from high school. And yet, not all succeed. In fact, most are not successful. This suggests that having a high school education doesn’t cause success. Does this mean that you should drop out of school? Absolutely not. Finish high school. Study hard. Learn new things. Participate in organized athletics. Enjoy it, but understand that high school is not what differentiates the successful from unsuccessful.
Must be it’s college that determines success. Bust ass for four more years. Acquire more marketable skills. But how many people go to college. In America, millions of individuals have earned degrees. And again… some are successful, while some… not so much. Actually, as with the high school diploma, most who attend college are underemployed. So college isn’t the key to making a fortune either. America is rife with college-educated coffee baristas.
With a high school and college education, you can make a decent living. Success isn’t always determined by what is learned during a formal education. Rather, it’s what we learn and apply after school that contributes the most to our success. Most individuals who graduate from college don’t do what it is they went to college for, myself included. I do not make a living on what I was trained to do in college. It was my self-education after college that set me up to be a successful as a statistician, an investor, and course creator.
So go to school, but never stop learning. Your education is not a destination; it is a journey.
3. Either you run the day, or the day runs you. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
The beginning of the calendar year is an awesome time to begin anew. However, most of us give up on any New Year’s resolutions before Valentine’s Day. In fact, the gym where I trained in college sold 45-day memberships for New Year’s. Based on the data, the owner’s knew most people quit within 45 days. Moreover, they knew that the customers knew they would quit, hence the 45-day membership. People were willing to plunk down $25 just in case, but they weren’t willing to “burn the ships” by investing $300 for the long term.
It is easy to feel bad about these poor habits over the holidays and being sedentary. That’s what motivates the New Year’s resolution. But a new you can start on any day of the year.
4. You cannot change your destination overnight. But you can change your direction.
You cannot be passing with 98’s in all your classes tomorrow if you are failing with 50’s and 60’s today. While you can change your current status overnight, you can change your direction. Many people want the prize instantly and aren’t willing to do the things talked about in #1, the simple disciplines every day. But know that the day you get motivated to start the simple disciplines, you will have changed your direction. The habit of doing the disciplines every day will keep you going.
You can choose to pay attention to lectures. You can choose to take notes. You can choose to study your notes every day even if you don’t have an artifact-producing assignment. You can choose to complete assignments on time. You can choose to study for exams. You can choose to re-read things you don’t understand.
We’re all boiling water. What that means is that we all want to get our kettle of water boiling. But water doesn’t boil the instant we turn on the stove top. It takes time. The only way to reduce the length of time for the water to boil is to add more heat!
5. You MUST experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
The pain of discipline isn’t always fun. Staying home to study when all your friends are out partying is a pain — the pain of discipline. But you can choose to pass on the pain of discipline as long as you’re willing to experience the subsequent pain of regret. If you party when you should be studying, you may fail that big test.
And don’t pass your pain of regret onto others, like your teacher. The teacher isn’t the one who didn’t study for the test you bombed. You are. Lack of accountability conflates the pain, so you may assume someone else is causing your pain. But they are not. Choosing the pain if discipline is the wise choice.
6. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
I was always fond of the aphorism “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with their fleas.” Unfortunately, you’re not going to save all your friends who stray. It’s just easier for one person (YOU) to choose more positive influences than it is to change the behavior of numerous others. The reality is that if you want to upgrade your life, you have to have successful people in your circle of influence — not failures and class clowns. Expand your associations with those who are already demonstrating what you’re looking for. Limit your exposure to those who are on the fence about being successful. And finally, create disassociation with some people.
This is most prevalent when I allow students to choose their own groups… risky I know! Not surprisingly, students with low grades gravitate to others with low grades. Students with high grades move to work with others who have high grades. It is far easier to associates with the group with high grades than it is to elevate all the students with low grades.
7. Work harder on yourself than do on your job.
For students, your job is school. For other teachers, it’s the classroom experience you design for your students. So don’t quit your job. But all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. The best way for students to work on themselves is by reading books, paying attention to the world around them, and participating in their own development.
It you wait for things to happen, you’ll struggle. Rather, you should happen to things. This is related to #3 — either you rule the day, or the day rules you.
8. You don’t get paid for the hour; you get paid for the value that you bring to the hour.
This principle makes me think of conversations about how unfair it is that “Suzi” only earned minimum wage, and the supervisor yells at her for being late to work and texting on the job. Naturally, minimum wage is for employees who provide minimum value. McDonald’s is not a teen charity. Businesses don’t exist to hand money out to snotty teens with no unique and valuable skills. They exist to make money. If you can’t provide more value to your employer than it cost them to employ you, you won’t last long.
Of course, the idea is to evolve out of the minimum wage job, and into a meaningful career. Again, self-development is key. The idea is to focus on the value you can provide for others. Always underpromise and overdeliver. The universe doesn’t owe any of us anything. The universe doesn’t care. But we do owe it to ourselves to go out and provide value.
The first step toward earning a great living is earning the free and appropriate public education provided. After that the world is your oyster. College, trade school, military are all great places to go after high school to learn those unique and valuable skills that make you valuable to employers, or even the marketplace should you start your own business.