All self-improvement advice is more or less the same. You have to listen to the advice over and over again while trying to implement it into your life.
As Zig Ziglar said:
“Motivation doesn’t last. Neither do showers. That’s why they’re recommended daily.”
For whatever reason, some advice works better when it comes from the right source. Even though the information is the same, the way someone says it matters.
I encourage you to find the voices that work for you. I’d love my voices to be one of those, but still, you can learn from many. You can learn from my sources of inspiration, one of which I’m going to share with you today.
Whatever you do, stay in the game.
Are there problems with the self-improvement industry? Sure. Are there valid criticisms of the tactics? Yes. But, for me, self-improvement is a net positive. It changed, no, saved my life.
Because of personal development teachers, I avoided the negative path I was headed for — broke, addicted, depressed — and changed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine.
That journey specifically started with one teacher.
A teacher who directly inspired me to go on the five-plus year journey of self-improvement I still follow today. A teacher who taught the most famous personal development teacher, Tony Robbins, much of what he knows.
Many of you probably know who he is by now, but for the uninitiated, let’s take a look at some of my favorite quotes and teachings from the late great Jim Rohn.
“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills.”
If you don’t feel like you’ve earned the success you’ve had in your life, you’ll feel empty. Ask any lottery winner or trust fund kid.
You want some level of challenge to rise to or overcome because that creates your personal legend. The hero’s journey is fraught with obstacles and problems for a reason. The best part of the arc is the part when all hope seems lost and the problems seem insurmountable, only to see the hero come out on top.
You love the narrative because part of you loves the struggle. Not all of you though. Another side of you does want things to come easily. You do want the lottery ticket. At least, you think you do.
All human beings covet one trait above all others. We all crave confidence. What is confidence? Confidence is simply the belief that you have the competency to handle the situation at hand, whatever that situation may be.
You build confidence by building competence and you build competence by adding new skills and overcoming problems. This philosophy seems simple but think deeply about the quote and its implications in your life.
Even though it’s difficult to start, you’ll feel much more empowered by looking in the mirror first instead of waiting for the world to bend to your will.
“I’ll tell you what changed my whole life: I finally discovered that it’s all risky. The minute you got born it got risky. If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying”
I recently did an Instagram AMA session. One person asked me “What’s the mantra you use to stay motivated every day.” I replied, “I could die today.”
We spend so much time avoiding new and interesting challenges or projects because they’re “risky” and fail to realize that we’re at risk constantly, whether we like it or not.
This reminds me of another quote from Seneca:
“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire”
My philosophy on risk is simple. I know you can’t throw caution to the wind all the time because odds are, you will live for a while. You do need prudence and pragmatism to take care of yourself and your family.
Instead, take calculated risks.
Take risks with known downsides and high upside. Don’t confuse perceived risk with fear. Most of the time when you say you’re afraid of risk, you’re just afraid. Afraid of judgment, rejection, and embarrassment, mostly. Mind you, those fears are quite real — so palpable they keep people stuck.
How do you get over this fear? It’s hard, but you just have to try to remind yourself what’s at stake, your life, as often as you can until you act on that piece of knowledge.
“If you work on your job, you‘ll make a living. If you work on yourself, you‘ll make a fortune.”
I wrote an article talking about how my investments into myself have literally yielded higher returns than any stock market pick I could have made. I invested in books, programs, videos, etc that taught me profitable skills.
Learning to develop those profitable skills for the sake of learning the skills leads to money. I didn’t learn the skills for the money. This is tricky to understand. Yes, of course, you want to make more money.
You need to learn profitable skills to make that money. But, if you’re solely driven by making money and don’t have either a passion or some level of intellectual curiosity about the skill you want to learn, you’ll never learn it. Thus, you’ll never get the money.
This is why get rich schemes don’t work. Money in and of itself is not a great intrinsic motivator. You want to focus on learning skills at the intersection of what interests you and what the market wants.
Next, you’ll need to find a way to deliver those skills without needing a middle man, an employer, to make the transactions happen.
When you work on a job, you have caps to your income, mobility, autonomy, etc. When you stack skills and develop the means to market them on your own, skies the limit.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
You don’t need to take this literally, but the sentiment rings true. And, no, you don’t need to ruthlessly cut out every person who isn’t wholly dedicated to self-improvement. You don’t need to cut people out at all except for the truly toxic ones.
Look at your life and your network as a group of circles.
You do want to have highly motivated people with similar goals in your main, smallest circle.
As you branch out, there are people you spend less time with and have less in common with, but still enjoy. As you branch out more, there are casual acquaintances who you’ll run across from time to time. Then, you’re cordial with everyone else.
But you’re always mindful of who you spend your time with. You are ruthless about noticing the impact your environment has on you. The more you understand just how programmable you are, the more you’ll try to program yourself to make the right decisions.
Choosing the right people to be around programs you to get the same skills they have. Some say it’s weird to judge the quality of relationships by how you can mutually benefit each other. I say it’s weird to not focus on that.
Again, you’re not Machiavelli or living the darkest sections of a Robert Greene book, but you are conscious of human nature. You should study the works of people like Greene and learn to understand people because your dealings with people might be the largest influence on the quality of your life.
“Success is something you attract by the person you become ”
I love the idea of drawing success to you. It’s different than chasing success.
Let’s use dating as an analogy. Who’s more attractive? Someone who pesters you to date them without getting to know you at all — someone who’s ‘thirsty’ as the kids say? Or someone who is confident and whole in themselves first, then makes a respectful invitation to get to know you further?
If you get too thirsty for success, you’ll never get it.
It will run away from you like a cat when you try to pay too much attention to it right away. But if you do some of the things I mentioned earlier like building skills just to build skills, leveling up yourself and your environment, invest in yourself, etc, opportunities will start to come your way.
It’s funny. I used to desperately want to right for certain publications back in the day. Now? These publications come to me requesting I write or syndicate my work with them. And I won’t do it unless the terms are favorable because, after gaining the skills, I have the abundance.
Like the saying goes “The bank only loans money to people who don’t need it.”
Yes, you have to put yourself out there, market yourself, meet people, etc. You’re not just sitting back waiting for the universe to grant you all your wishes. But, at the same time, you’re letting the universe catch up to your hard work.
Given enough time, it will.
“Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” – Jim Rohn
I can be absent-minded. People who know me make fun of me because I can make some of the silliest little mistakes. Trivial things like leaving cabinets open, water bottle caps unscrewed, etc.
But I often look at other people and wonder how they’re so good at minutiae but fail to see their entire lives slipping by. I suspect people who overly focus on the small stuff do this on purpose, even if subconsciously, so they never have to face the bigger picture upfront.
If you lose focus, you can miss out on major opportunities. Most of us are stuck on the hamster wheel running day after day after day not realizing we’re in a cage that there’s a whole world outside of it.
What are the minor things you should stay away from? Petty salacious news stories, incessant meaningless errands, gossip, and most things immediately gratifying.
What are the major things? Take a look at the direction of your life and see if you like how it’ll look in five, ten, fifteen years. Think deeply about how those timeframes will shape your life in areas like your career, relationships, and spiritual contentment.
Plant the seeds for a plan. I started a plan to change my life five years ago after I watched a talk Jim gave where he said you could change your entire life in that time span, which is exactly what I did.
You can do it, too. But you have to start sooner than later.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan, and guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
You never want to become what Napoleon Hill calls a ‘drifter.’ Most people are drifters. This doesn’t make them good or bad. They simply let other people plan their lives for them. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Even if it does ‘work out’ the results are usually underwhelming.
This goes back to my point about confidence earlier. You want to feel like you can exert your will over reality. Of course, you can’t control everything, but you want to feel like you’re in control.
You can always control your effort level, your reaction to the events in your life, and the plans you make for your own future. Regardless of how well your personal plan works out, at least it’s your plan.
I can tell you from experience, there’s no better feeling than saying you’re going to do something then actually following through with it. You can’t replicate the feeling without going through the process.
Does this mean you have to join the lifestyle design wave, start your own e-commerce business, and move to Bali? Nope. Just live the type of life you want to live based on your preferences.
You can have an amazing life plan being an accountant, a stay at home parent, or a billionaire, as long as it’s your plan. Some people have a higher taste for ambition than others. Just don’t fall below yours.