Rhythm of Life book review — what it meant to me

I remember when I started my path or journey if you will on Personal Growth one of my favourite quotes was from Robin Sharma that he got from his father loosely put it went like this; “All it takes is just one idea from just one book to change the course of your whole life.” The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly is one of those books…

I read this book a few years ago and it had a profound impact on me. It changed the way that I thought about myself, how I conducted business, even on what movies I was going to watch. With one simple question, “Is this ______ going to help me become the best-version-of-myself?” My whole life got turned upside down. It was such a great book to read at the beginning of my personal growth journey, and it was a great reminder a nearly years later after many stumbles, a few successes and a whole lot of growing.

To simplify the book I would say that it boils down to asking yourself this question, “is what I am about to do going to help me become the best-version-of-myself?” That you can relate to anything, a pop tart in the office snack room, an early morning run, watching a movie or reading a book. Anything in life that moves you from where you are currently, Kelly calls it point A to where you want to be point B, which is the best-version-of-yourself. It’s a fantastic way to think on a day to day basis. For instance when I am running around town and starting to get hungry, by default I would think of popping in to the closest Carl’s Jr drive through, but then I ask myself that question, Is Carl’s Jr going to help me become the best-version-of-myself? After a very obvious NO, I either head home to eat, or find a much healthier alternative. Not only does it save my money, but I am making much healthier food choices too. It also works at home too, 10pm and the wife asked for a piece of cake, I look at her and very calmly ask, “Honey, is that going to help you become the best-version-of-yourself?” Thankfully my wife knew that I was just trying to look out for her and was more then happy when I brought her a few slices of cantaloupe instead.

The opening line of the book is, Everything is a choice. There is not a truer way to open a book then this statement. He goes on to talk about this is life greatest truth and hardest lesson. We have chosen the life we live, whether we admit it or not. We choose to be the best-version-of-ourselves or some second-rate-version-of-ourselves. But choose we did. I think a large part of this book is helping you take responsibility for where you are in life, what you have or don’t have and making sure that you own up to that first and foremost.

There is a very small section of the book titled, The Gentle Voice Within. I am not sure why Matthew Kelly decided to have such a small section (2 pages) dedicated to this area, but none-the-less it had a profound impact on me. Along with the question that you have heard more times then I could count by the time you reach this section of the book, “Will this help me become the best-version-of-myself?” this could be the very backbone of the book. The gentle voice within is the voice that some of us choose to ignore and the smarter ones choose to listen to and empower. What voice? It’s that voice right there, the one inside your head. The one that tells you right from wrong, the one that will 100% of the time be honest and truthful with you no matter what. Listening to this voice will undoubtedly help you to become the best-version-of-yourself. It is your trusted guide as Kelly calls it. That voice is in essence the best-version-of-yourself, talking directly to you. All you need to do is heed it’s calling.

The section on legitimate needs is a very important one as Kelly references it many times later on. There are four basic needs to the human person, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. He breaks these down even further to primary and secondary needs. For example, your primary physical needs are the basic ones that every one of us needs to survive, food, shelter, water to drink ect. But the secondary needs are the ones that allow us to not survive but to thrive and become best-version-of-ourselves. For myself, daily exercise is a secondary physical need that I need in order to be the best-version-of-myself. This is non-negotiable, its just part of who I am. Without it, I become a much lesser-version-of-myself and in turn I am not the best father or husband or friend that I can be. For you it might not be exercise, it might be eating a full plant based diet, or something along those lines. But I can tell you from experience, when you operate your life this way, wonderful and glorious things happen.

Are you free?

Do you consider yourself free? Living the North America you might consider yourself free, but you also might have less freedom then you think. Self-discipline is the foundation of freedom (p110). Being able to say YES or NO to things that are going to help you move in the direction that you want to go in life is the greatest freedom we can have. Self-discipline is the foundation of greatness, achievement, success, heroism, leadership, sanctity of vibrant and flourishing communities and nations. (p110) The foundation of freedom is character and the foundation off character is discipline. Do you have control over yourself? What are your vices? Starbucks? Smoking? House of Cards on Netflix? Mine was coffee. About a month ago I had to go to the dermatologist and for 2 weeks he suggested that I give up coffee. There was a list of other foods as well, but coffee that hurt! You have to understand, I not only enjoy my cup java in the morning, its almost like a religious experience for me. It starts of my day and without it well, lets just say those first few days were hell…But after the first week, came the second week and then a check up. And doc suggests 2 more weeks, to be sure its completely out of my system. There I was a full month without coffee and then he saids okay try and bring it back into my diet. It took me 3 days until I finally remembered that I was suppose to have half a cup of coffee by doctors orders. Didn’t even enjoy it, I am now free of that vice! We are creatures of habits, and the power of our habits can be harnessed to help us become the best-version-of-ourselves or some second-rate-versions-of-ourselves. And yes we choose our habits! (p115)

The Rhythm Of Life to me is following your heart, listening to your heart and giving your heart. Doing what truly makes your happy, what makes your heart smile. Not worrying about what others may think, say or do. But worrying about what you may think or say about yourself if you don’t. Listen to your heart because that is the only true voice you have. It will help you and guide you to become the best-version-of-yourself as that is all that your heart wants for you. Give your heart to the world. Do your best work, the work that only you can do. Find your genius and share it with the world to make it a better place. The world will get out of the way for someone who knows what he wants and where he is going (pg 246)

Below you will find my Impact Points from the book The Rhythm of Life. These are just some stand alone points that had a profound impact on me that I wanted to share with you.

Impact Points

Everybody is a Genius (p80–85)

I absolutely loved this section. It was small but very powerful. “I believe that we are all capable of doing one thing better then any other person alive at this time in history. What is your one thing?” A quote like that gives me chills. Think about how powerful that is, and truth that it holds. While so many people are focused on trying to be the next Zuckerberg or Jordon, what about being the first you! I don’t want to be the next anybody, I just want to be the first me! With over 7 billion people on the world, knowing that there is one thing inside of me, that I can do better then all the rest, it is my duty, my mission, my purpose to share that with all the other 6,999,999,999 people on the plant.

Follow your star (p121–128)

This connects with the above topic nicely. Your star is the thing that guides you through life. It’s the thing that you chase and helps you stay on course, like a ship in the ocean. Following your start is about learning to be yourself. Discover what it is that you can do that no-one else can. Your chance at greatness is intrinsically linked to being yourself. Everyone is good at something. We all have talents and abilities that are unique and different. One of my favourite parts of the book is when he gives examples of all the famous people who achieved their fame at various ages in life. (pg9) from Tiger Woods at age 3, to Michelangelo at age seventy-two. No matter what age we find our star, it does exist and will guide us as soon as we are ready to follow it.

Two of my favourite stories of all time happen to be in this book. I will share one with you now and the other (DaVinci Painting pg 235) you will have to read the book to truly appreciated.

The Fisherman

Once upon a time there was an investment banker. He lived in New York City, was phenomenally successful, and made a ton of money. But his life was busy, noisy, and very stressful.

So, once a year, he would leave the city and go down to a small coastal village in Mexico. For two weeks he would rest, relax, and allow himself to be rejuvenated.

One day he was standing on the pier just before lunch, looking out to sea, when he noticed a small fishing boat coming in to dock. He thought this was a little strange, because most of the fishermen used to stay out late in to the afternoon so they could catch as many fish as possible, before coming in and preparing the fish for market.

Curiosity overcame him. So he walked over to where the fishing boat was about to dock. Looking into the boat, he saw just one fisherman and several large yellow fin tuna.

“How long did it take you to catch those fish?” he said to the fisherman.

“Not very long,” the fisherman replied with a smile.

“Is there something wrong with your boat?” the American asked.

“Oh, no,” the fisherman said. “In thirteen years I have never had a problem with the boat.”

The American was a little perplexed, so he asked the fisherman, “Why don’t you stay out there longer and catch more fish?”

The fisherman smiled again and said, “This is plenty here for my family right now. Some of the fish we can eat, and the others we can sell or trade for the other things we need.”

“But it’s not even lunchtime. What do you do with the rest of your time?”

“In the morning,” the fisherman explained, “I like to sleep late. When I wake I fish a little, mostly just for the pleasure of fishing. In the afternoon I play with my children and take siesta with my wife. In the evenings I have dinner with my family. And then, when my children are sleeping, I stroll into the village, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos.”

The American scoffed and said, “I’m a Harvard MBA and I can help you.”

The fisherman was a little skeptical, but nonetheless he obliged and asked, “How?”

“You should fish longer every day,” the American counselled, “late into the afternoon. This way you will catch more fish and make more money, and you can buy a bigger boat. With the bigger boat you will catch even more fish, make even more money, and then you can buy another boat and hire another man to work the second boat.”

“But what then?” the fisherman inquired.

“Oh, we are just getting started! With two boats you’ll catch even more fish and make even more money, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole fleet of boats and every man in the village looking for work will come to you.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your fish direct to the cannery, and make more money. As your fleet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own cannery. And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Mexico City, and manage your expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your fish direct to the cannery, and make more money. As your fleet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own cannery. And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Mexico City, and manage your expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” the fisherman persisted.

“Well then, you can begin to ship your fish to different parts of the world. Down into Asia and Australia and up into North America. And as demand grows for your fish, you can leave Mexico City, move to Los Angeles, open a distribution plant there, and begin to ship your fish to Europe and every corner of the globe.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked again.

The American continued, “By then your business will be one of the great ventures of the industry. You can move to New York City and manage your empire from the epicentre of the business world.”

“How long will all this take?” the fisherman asked.

“Twenty-five, maybe thirty years,” the banker explained.

“But what will I do then?” the fisherman asked.

The American’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the best part,” he said. “When the time is just right, you can go down to Wall Street, list your business as a public company, offer an IPO, and make millions and millions of dollars.”

“Millions?” the fisherman asked.

“More money than you ever dreamed you could earn in ten lifetimes,” the American explained.

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

The American did not know what to say. He had reached his climax. He was stumped. But then a thought crossed his mind and triggered an idea, and he turned once more to the fisherman and spoke.

“Well then, you could move to a small coastal village… You could sleep late… You could fish just for the pleasure of fishing… In the afternoons, you could take siesta with your wife. . . . In the evenings, you could have dinner with your family… and then you could stroll into the village and sip wine and play guitar and sing songs with your amigos…”

To purchase your own copy of Matthew Kelly’s The Rhythm Of Life click the link

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