I’m always eager to soak up and take to heart the wise words of people I find to be an inspiration. Jim Rohn, a successful and highly influential entrepreneur who passed in1999, penned this book nearly 30 years ago — but its message on living with passion, purpose, and joy are timeless. I couldn’t stop taking notes while listening to the Audible version. Here are some of the great seeds of wisdom and good life principles sewn throughout the book. 

First off, The Art of Exceptional Living reads like a guide to living successfully, as it is drawn from a series of educational seminars taught by Rohn. It’s highly instructional and practical. One major theme in just about every chapter is on building deep self-awareness in all that you do. Unless you can see who you are and what you are becoming, you can’t really experience the kind of personal change that produces the results you dream of — results that ultimately reap happiness. That happiness, he later explains, is a joy that comes as the result of positive activity as you experience the full range of life via discovery and knowing. But without an awareness of your own personal progress and process of maturation, he argues, you’ll easily miss out on the joys of really exploring, receiving, sharing in, and possessing so many of those bountiful offerings life has to offer. 

The reality is that everyone is allotted the same amount of time in a day, but not everyone is focused on the value of that given time. What must be understood and believed (and often isn’t) is that making it a point to develop your character and invest in your personal growth in that given time is an exceedingly valuable way to spend it. However, it really takes work to build the habit of paying close attention to yourself and your motives. Rohn urges you to develop an “above-average” way of approaching the world around you: your interest in others, your desire to succeed, and even the smile you wear on your face. With life and business changing like the seasons – something you have no control over – your change is largely dependent on the choices you make and the ideas you birth. 

Ideas, he stresses, are essential – never stop coming up with them. Sometimes you are simply one idea away from cracking the code and opening a new door, a whole new world of opportunities. This particular idea could also confound those around you. It’s part of the mystery of the mind – not everyone will catch on, and some might pull away, shrug you off, or even poke fun. Consider the day the church began: a powerful sermon was preached that left many perplexed or doubting. But some believed, and the church took off. There could be some who will jump on board with you. Look for those people – the “believers” – as you acknowledge the reality of how others might respond. This is how you become brilliant: know and accept that you can’t fix or control how the world will react to your hopes, dreams, and ideas.  

Part of this process requires an attitude of thankfulness and a rejection of cynicism. Instead of succumbing to any disillusionment, simply strive to listen well to people, take good notes as if you were their student, and consider their advice. You don’t have to take it. 

Another part of the process is sticking to the fundamentals. Don’t go looking for “exotic answers” in your quest, he says. Just do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Grow in discipline, which is the bridge between thought and accomplishment, between inspiration and achievement, and between necessity and productivity. It will be an upstream battle, but it’s the good things that are upstream. The battle of the journey itself is part of your success because it’s the steady, measured process towards making your life – as informed by your values – better. 

 Start TODAY. Do something different and better today – start with your plan. What is there to lose?

– Tim