Tony Robbins is the most well-known motivational speaker and premier “performance coach” in the world today. At 58, he is now worth around $500 million dollars.
At 17 Robbins worked as a janitor after school and helped people move on the weekends to make money to help out his family. One weekend he decided to spend close to his weekly wage on a seminar hosted by one Jim Rohn.
Jim Rohn grew up on a farm in Idaho and was a clerk at the department store Sears. Like Robbins after him, Rohn turned his life around to become a renowned motivational speaker and author. He presented seminars all over the country for 40 years, spoke to more than 6,000 audiences, wrote 17 books and became a millionaire by the age of 31.
Though his upbringing provided a strong work ethic, it left Rohn lacking in ambition. In high school, he learned facts and figures, but not how to design a life.
Rohn spoke about feeling like a loser at the age of 25, despite having a family and having gone to college. Living in a rut, broke and in debt, Rohn decided it was time to change.
Rohn tutored himself with simple but profound life philosophies rooted in personal development: work harder on yourself than you do on your job; your income is directly related to your philosophy, not the economy; and for things to change, you must change.
In 1981 on a warm summer evening, Rohn gave an outstanding two-hour seminar on personal development in Anaheim, California.
I have watched this four or five times now and have recommended it to people many times over. To entice others to listen to it, and to summarise the points for those who feel daunted listening to something that long, here are the key points from Jim Rohn’s seminar.
The article will cover Rohn’s themes of ‘Personal Development’ and the ‘Basic Laws’ in the seminar.
1) The MAJOR Key To Your Better Future Is YOU
This is the main theme of the whole seminar and an idea that Rohn returns to throughout the seminar.
Success is looking for a good place to stay.
Income rarely exceeds personal development. Sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but unless you learn to handle the responsibilities that come with it, it will usually shrink back to the amount you can handle.
If you win the lottery, you better quickly become a millionaire (in terms of mindset and behaviour) so you can keep the millions of dollars you have won.
“A very rich man once said, ‘If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before.’”
It is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development. To have more than you’ve got, become more than you are.
Success is not something you pursue, but something you attract by the person you become. So see what you can become.
To further highlight the main message, Rohn underlines the words MAJOR and YOU in the sentence above that he writes on his chalkboard.
2) Value Makes the Difference In Results
Rohn tells his audience that he used to ask himself why two people roughly the same age, education and background being paid two different salaries in the same company? Why would one of them get paid $1000 a month and the other $2000?
What’s the difference?
He answers that it is clearly about VALUE. To create more value in your life, bring more value to the marketplace to increase your income.
Work primarily on yourself. For an above-average salary and life, develop an above-average: handshake, smile, excitement, intensity to win, and an interest in people.
“Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job”
3) For Things to Change for You, You’ve Got to Change
Life has reliably been consistent for thousands of years — the sun rises and goes down, spring follows winter.
Life has been opportunity mixed with difficulty for as long as anyone can remember. It isn’t going to change.
Don’t wait for external things to change first. Life will only get better for you when you get better.
“Life and businesses are like the changing seasons… You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself.”
Life gets better by change, not by chance.
Rohn sets out the following four rules for life and business, using the seasons and other familiar concepts to effectively make his points:
1) Learn how to handle the winters
Winters are the recessions, the difficulties that reliably come and go. Get stronger, wiser and better to deal with these.
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”
2) Learn how to take advantage of the spring
Opportunity follows difficulty as surely as spring follows winter.
The spring, like life, is brief and fleeting. Don’t wait around. Do something with it and do it quickly because it soon runs out. Get at it.
3) Learn how to protect your crops all summer
Protect all the good you start because predictably and reliably: “All good will be attacked.”
All your good work and values must be defended. Don’t be naïve about this.
Think about your work and projects as a garden that has to be tended to. Weeds will grow and destroy what you have created if you don’t protect it.
4) Learn how to reap at harvest time
Accept full responsibility for what you reap in the autumn.
It is a mark of maturity to learn how to reap without apology (if prosperous), and without complaint (if you do less well).
Rohn goes on to reference a list he had of his ‘reasons for not doing well’, or excuses he told himself for falling short. On this long list was:
- the government and the economy
- high taxes and prices
- the weather
- negative relatives for putting him down
- cynical, unsupportive neighbours.
Rohn says he recited this long list to a mentor when Rohn was asked why he thought he wasn’t succeeding. His mentor Earl Shoaff listened patiently and said finally:
“Mr Rohn one big problem with your list. YOU ain’t on it!”
Rohn says he went on to tear up the list and made a fresh one where he wrote only ‘Me’ as the sole factor for why he may not be doing well.
4) It’s Not What Happens, It’s What You Do
Disappointments, hardships and setbacks are not exclusively experienced by poor people or any other group. They are common events for us all.
The ‘what happens’ part of this is about the same for everyone. However, people’s reaction to these events is what differs, and are what makes the difference in the circumstances of people’s lives.
Rohn uses the example of two salesmen who wake up at the same time on a stormy, miserably wet morning. Each remarks “Wow what a storm!”, but the first salesman says to himself he’s not going to go out to work because everyone will be at home. The other salesman says it’s an ideal day to go out selling because everyone will be at home, especially the salesmen!
5) Be Disciplined and Motivate Yourself
Enthusiasm without purpose or direction is a waste of energy.
Get excited about your ability to make yourself do the necessary things to change your life.
Take on the smaller challenges first, build the muscles required before you take on the larger tests.
Don’t look externally for motivation. All motivation comes from within.
People have to change themselves.
6) Learn The Set-Up
Whatever you’re doing make sure you get the information, and then learn to get on the good side of how things work. You don’t have to like it, or agree with how things are set up — but just educate yourself about it.
Find out how things work so you don’t get hurt.
Ignorance is poverty.
Don’t leave it to chance. To be successful, study success. To be happy, study happiness and so on. Capture the ideas in your journal.
Be curious and become a good reader. Develop your skills and learn from others’ experiences in books, as well as from your own life experience. Be a student, not a follower.
7) You Lose What You Don’t Use
In two laws that he identifies from the Bible, Rohn tells the story of the Parable of the Talents to illustrate that “lack of use causes loss.”
The Parable is a story about a master who leaves his three servants with ‘talents’ — a measure of money — according to their abilities. One servant received five talents, the second servant received two talents, and the third servant received one talent.
Upon returning home, after a long absence, the master asks his three servants for an account of the talents he entrusted to them. The first and the second servants explain that they each put their talents to work, and have doubled the value of the property with which they were entrusted; each servant was rewarded.
The third servant, playing it safe, had hidden away his talent and buried it in the ground. The furious master takes his solitary ‘talent’ away from him and gives it instead to the first servant who had doubled what he began with to ten talents.
For Rohn this story illustrates that “what you don’t employ, you forfeit.”
Ambition, faith and strong feelings that aren’t used, decline and diminish.
Make sure all your positive qualities — brainpower, vitality, energy, attitude, talent and ability — are being used.
8) Whatever You Reap, Is What You’ve Sown
In this second basic law, Rohn references the well-known law of sowing and reaping.
He adds the following caveats to this:
- You always reap much more than you sow. You get back much more than you put out — whether negative or positive
- If you don’t sow, you don’t reap — “‘so get some sowing going!”
- You could lose (that’s life!)
Rohn says we are all going somewhere and will end up in a particular place in 10 years’ time — the question is WHERE?
Whose plan are we fulfilling at the moment? Who’s got us talked into it? Is it your own plan, one you’ve designed yourself? Or someone else’s?
The full seminar video is available to watch on YouTube here.
Thanks for reading!