The Art of Exceptional Living

The Art of Exceptional Living

by Jim Rohn

The Art of Exceptional Living contains all the important lessons in personal development. You will discover the essential strategies to live a happier, wealthier, and more successful life. You will also find advice for your personal and professional relationships and tips to have better finances, be happier and achieve your dreams.

Summary Notes

Introduction & Fundamentals

“Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

In the first cassette of this series, Jim Rohn talks about his beginnings; how he quit college, got his first job, got married, and started a family–all by age 25. Life, however, was far from what Rohn imagined. He was in debt and extremely unhappy, so he needed to make a change. 

Change, according to Rohn, starts with good fortune and great ideas. The author’s good fortune was meeting someone successful, a mentor that hired him and told him about the fundamentals of being a successful person.

Great ideas are all around you; they can be life-changing, and sometimes, one great idea is all you need to make a change. You can find this by reading books, listening to podcasts, finding a mentor, and learning new things. Through this, you’ll achieve success. 

There are four basic keywords that you need to implement in your daily routine to change the direction of your life:

  1. Wealth - We all have a mental image of what wealth means: financial substance, freedom from debt, opportunities, or being a millionaire. Wealth does improve the quality of your life. Decide what it means for you and work on that.

  2. Happiness - this is the joy of discovery and knowledge, unawareness of the full range of life, and joy that comes after making a change, sharing, eating and playing. For some, it may be an illusion, but happiness is not impossible to attain.

  3. Discipline - this keyword should be seen as something positive. It bridges thought and accomplishment, inspiration and value achievement, and necessity and productivity. Discipline is like a set of keys that opens the doors to an accomplished, respected, and admired lifestyle.

  4. Success - this refers to both your journey and destination; these are your accomplishments and the process of changing, growing, and improving yourself.

Most of us walk in opposite directions of what we want. We dream of success yet walk towards financial disaster. We wish for happiness, yet we think and act toward despair. 

Whatever you want to achieve, you need to start with a plan. For instance, start a wealth plan if you want to become wealthy. Similarly, to become happy, start a happiness plan. 

Remember that the best time to put your idea into action is today, so start doing so!

Actions to take

The Importance of Philosophy

“Use your mind, strengthen your ideas, and come up with your philosophy.”

A person's philosophy (thoughts, values, and experiences) will determine how much success they have. This philosophy is like the set of the sail. Circumstances are not as important as we make them be, but our view of our own life is responsible for our circumstances. 

It is easier to blame the government, the weather, our parents, and others for our circumstances, but it takes courage to blame our philosophy, thoughts, and actions. 

To build your philosophy, you must understand the difference between success and failure: Failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day. Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

Actions to take

Creating Your Personal Philosophy

“If you wish to be successful, study success. If you wish to be happy, study happiness. If you wish to be wealthy, study wealth.”

We lack something not because we lack resources or opportunities but because we lack ideas and information.

There are two valuable sources of information, and these are the keys to better future ideas:

  1. Your own experience - be a good student of your own life. Your life experience, failures, and successes should be one of the most important sources of information. Failures are life’s greatest teacher.

  2. Other people's experiences - learn from other people’s wrongs or rights, what to do and what not to do.

The most simple but effective way to learn from other people’s experiences is to listen to and read the books of those who have accomplished great things. Reading is what successful people have in common. You must habitually read or listen to something challenging at least 30 minutes a day, every day! 

The best investment you can make is to invest in yourself first. Let your library show you are a serious student of life. A library is a mental food that needs to be well balanced. Your reading list should contact books about history, philosophy, novels, biographies, accounting, and law.

Remember that there are only three treasures to leave behind you:

  1. Pictures - they can speak a million words.

  2. Your library - the books that fed your mind and soul.

  3. Journals - the ideas that changed your life.

Actions to take

Personal Development

“It's not what happens that determines the major part of your future, but what you do about it.”

Personal development is crucial for living a better life. If you start the process of change in the next 90 days, you will do different things in the same circumstances. The key to change is understanding that everything you have in life results from being who you are. 

While it is difficult not to blame others for our circumstances, we must understand that it’s best to take responsibility for our actions. Once we adopt this change, we will see how our circumstances will also change. So start working on yourself, and the change you desire will follow. 

One thing we should focus on is becoming a valuable person. In the marketplace, the more value we bring, the higher money we will have. 

Aside from this, you also have to ensure you are not spending most of your time on minor things. Life is like the seasons. You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself! There are four major lessons to learn in life:

  1. Learn how to handle your winters - some are long, some are short. You must learn how to handle difficulties; they always come after opportunities, like winter always comes after fall. Get stronger, wiser, better.

  2. Learn how to take advantage of your springs. Spring symbolizes opportunities, and it follows difficulties. Plant in the spring, take opportunities, and get busy becoming better.

  3. Learn how to nourish and protect your crops all summer. All good must be attacked, and all values must be defended.

  4. Learn how to reap in the fall without complaint. Accept responsibility. Success is what you become.

Remember that no matter what happens, your responses to them are what matter most.

Actions to take

Letting Go of Self-Imposed Limitations

“What are you going to do, starting today, to make a change in your life?”

People deal with the three biggest self-imposed limitations: procrastination, blaming others, and making excuses. 

We all have the power to do remarkable things. We can turn weeds into gardens, pennies into fortunes, and disaster into success. Reach inside of you and find those remarkable abilities that wait for you to explore them. 

If you don’t like how it is going for you, change it. If it doesn’t suit you, please or inspire you, change it. You can change anything; you do not have to stay the same - only by choice. 

Change, however, is not possible without discipline. Our habits are dominant in what we become; they shape our reality. Forming new habits is not easy, but they are fundamental to change.

Actions to take

The Five Abilities

“Self-sacrifice only earns contempt. Self-development earns respect.”

There are five core abilities you need to have to be successful:

  1. The ability to absorb - be like a sponge, don't miss what is happening in your day. Be present and don't miss too many opportunities.

  2. Learn to respond - let life touch you, let sad things make you sad, let yourself feel and live what you have to. Engage with things that change you, and touch you. Absorb and respond, and pay attention to what is happening around you.

  3. Reflect - the ability to go back over your knowledge. Take a few minutes at the end of the day and reflect on what you did, who you saw, and what you felt. Reflect regularly on what has happened in the past few days, weeks, and months. This is the way to make the past valuable to your future.

  4. The ability to act - learn to prioritize. Act when the idea is hot, and you are excited about it. If you take too much time, you will lose your enthusiasm. Everything matters and every letdown affects the rest of your performance. Doing less in one field will affect your philosophy. Neglect diminishes our self-value. Be disciplined and act.

  5. Develop your ability to share - pass along good ideas, books, and knowledge. If you share an idea with ten people, they will hear it once, but if you repeat it ten times, they will hear it ten times. Everybody wins when you share information!

Actions to take

Financial Independence in the Service of Others

“What you are doing with your money says something about you.”

We all long for financial independence; however, many have several misconceptions about what money means. The biggest and most common of them is that money is evil. This is not true. To achieve financial independence, you must believe that money can do good. 

Money is not evil, greed is, and it must be dealt with. Greed is getting something at the expense of others. Conversely, ambition is good because it means wanting something at the service of others. This can lead to great wealth, recognition, success, and happiness. 

Financial independence is the ability to live from your income sources. It's powerful and worthy of being this ambitious. To be financially independent, you will need a good financial plan. Here’s one way you can do it: 

  1. Learn to live on 70% of your net income.

  2. Learn how to allocate the remaining 30%:
     - 10% should be given to charity
     - 10% used as capital to buy/sell/commerce
    - 10% is to put in a financial institution.

Actions to take

Influence of Associations

“If you evaluate the major influences in your life that shape the person you are becoming, this must be high on the list: the people you allow into your life.”

One of the key rules of success is to carefully choose our social circle and with whom we are associated. We should never underestimate the power of influence. We often don't realize it, but peer pressure is so important

Pay attention to your habits. There is a big chance that you have the same habits as the people around you. Do your friends like to go to the cinema? So do you. Do your friends read one book a week? So do you. Do your friends avoid paying taxes? So do you, and the list could go on and on. 

Avoid keeping unproductive, unhappy, and invaluable relationships in your life. Everything matters when it comes to success, and you have to keep checking if your associations bring value to your life. 

Keep growing and experience knowledge and success. You must know what has powers over you and what affects you. Identify those you allow to influence you daily, weekly, and monthly throughout your life. 

Remember that learning from successful people and creating purposeful associations with those already living the lifestyle you want is the key to a booming wealth plan.

Actions to take

Goal Setting

“We all have a choice; we either make a living or design a life.”

Mastering the skill of setting goals will change your life forever. Our goals and dreams are affected by five factors: environment, events, knowledge, results, and view of the future (dreams).

Make sure your dreams have the greatest influence on your daily activities. You also have to ensure that your view of the future is the greatest pull on you. Face your future with excitement and anticipation!

The key to living an extraordinary life is to design the next ten years of your life and set goals. Then make plans and work hard on them! 

Any goals we set for ourselves affect who we are and what we do. They affect how we look, talk, think and live. These goals must be fun, challenging, and rewarding. 

So what kind of person will you become to get all you want? How will you use your abilities to achieve your dreams? Remember that you can always make changes and work on becoming a better person to achieve your desired future.

Actions to take

Cultivate Your Lifestyle

“Don’t just learn how to earn; learn how to live.”

Some people struggle to be happy with what they have, while others know how to be happy with small things. If we want to live to the fullest, we must not miss anything we can enjoy. 

Life in style is a life in balance. This means spending time with our family and friends and doing everything with love for them. This is how we can have a sense of purpose, making us feel fulfilled in the end.

Actions to take

Putting All Into Action

“Welcome all experiences. You never know which one is going to turn everything on.”

You always have the power to decide when you will start turning your life around. It is not an easy process, but remember there is no positive without negative. Successful people have also gone through negative experiences. So accept that the negative aspects of our lives are normal and reframe them. 

Disgust, for example, is a negative emotion with a positive effect; it teaches you that the time to change has come, and it promotes the courage to move on. 

Decision-making is life-changing. The desire to change your life signifies that you’ve got this. Promise yourself you are never going to give up. Keep trying until you can finally do it. 

Most importantly, don’t miss the chance to grow. Learn to help people with their lives, not only with their jobs. Touch people with a book, poems, and words. Dare to say something meaningful, and help people with their dreams, future, goals, and mistakes. 

Remember to always work on your gifts, and they will make room for you.

Actions to take

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