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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become
Harvey Mackay

January, 2010

Jim Rohn's inspiration lives on

If you were ever fortunate enough to hear Jim Rohn speak, you know immediately what a void his passing in early December leaves. You also know that your life changed because you were one of the 5 million people in his 6,000 audiences.

Jim was a good friend and fellow motivational speaker, with whom I shared the stage on many occasions. He was often referred to as "America's Foremost Business Philosopher." But his philosophical musings went far beyond business, which is why he inspired so many.

He was born to an Idaho farming family and was ingrained with a strong work ethic that he practiced throughout his life. At 25, he met his mentor Earl Shoaff. And over the next six years he made his first fortune in direct sales. His speaking career began when he moved to Beverly Hills, Cal., and a friend at the Rotary Club asked him to tell his success story. Jim titled it "Idaho Farm Boy Makes It to Beverly Hills."

His rags-to-riches story resonated with folks everywhere. His success story includes becoming a millionaire by age 31—and that was nearly 50 years ago, when a million dollars was an enormous amount of money.

But money wasn't his biggest motivator. No, I'd have to say it was his fundamental understanding of what makes people tick and what helps them succeed. One of my favorite quotes from Jim: "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree."

His folksy wisdom and gift for story-telling have earned many comparisons to Will Rogers. His unique delivery style made him one of the most articulate, powerful and thought-provoking speakers I've ever seen or heard. His messages are timeless. So many of his lines are life lessons all by themselves. For example:

  • "Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It is something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming."
  • "A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better."
  • "Failure is not a single cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day."
  • "Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness—great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation and great joy."
  • "Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins."
  • "If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."
  • "Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."
  • "Better understated than overstated. Let people be surprised that it was more than you promised and easier than you said."

Like most successful businesspeople-turned-speakers, Jim recorded a number of CDs and DVDs and wrote 17 books. I was particularly inspired by his book, "The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle." In it he describes those pieces as Philosophy, which is how you think; Attitude, which is how you feel; Action, which is what you do; Results, which you must measure often to see if you are making progress; and Lifestyle, which is the kind of life you can make for yourself out of the first four pieces. It's a great read, one I highly recommend.

A true philosopher at heart, Jim took his audiences beyond the business of business to the business of life. "Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their futures in someone else's hands, but not you."

Jim's own words hold so much hope for us all, and optimism for what we can become. As I heard him say, "I wish you a life of wealth, health and happiness—a life in which you give to yourself the gift of patience, the virtue of reason, the value of knowledge, and the influence of faith in your own ability to dream about and achieve worthy rewards."

Mackay's Moral (borrowed from Jim Rohn): "The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become."


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