“The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” – Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn used to live by the motto, “I’ll take care of you if you take care of me”, but he later realized the error in that mindset. He changed his motto, or personal philosophy, to, “I’ll take care of me for you if you’ll please take care of you for me,” and witnessed a shift.

In Part 2 of our “Art of Exceptional Living” series, we dug deeper into the “how” of building a personal philosophy that is tailor-made for living an extraordinary life.

Now, we look at how you can alter the trajectory of your life in the practice of self-development.

“If you don’t like your address, change it! You’re not a tree,”

Rohn proclaims. Everything you have right now has been attracted by the person you are and have become throughout your life.   The best contribution you can make going forward is self-development –
NOT self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice only earns contempt. Self-development earns respect. If you invest in yourself, think about what that will do for your relationships!

Here are 5 key traits that someone committed to self-development will practice at all times:

1. The ability to absorb.

 Absorb more than words and knowledge. Absorb all that is going on around you – sights, sounds, the general atmosphere.  Take it all in! Don’t just get through the day, get from the day.  Be a student of the world around you – be intentionally studious in the University of Life as you move through it.  


2. The ability to respond.


Let life touch you. Let it touch you across the whole range of emotions – from sad things to happy things to everything in between.  Instead of hardening yourself to emotions, let them strike you and be taught by them. Our emotions need to be educated as much as our intellect does.  



3. The ability to reflect.


Take a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect. Remember the highs and the lows. Where did you go? Who did you see? What did they say? What else went on? How did you feel? As you get from the day, learn from it and lock it in so that it can serve you in the future. 


Take a few hours at the end of the week, take a half-day at the end of each month, and take a weekend at the end of every year to reflect.  Learning to gather up the past and invest it in the future is part of growing in your ability to reflect.  Take time to reflect with your spouse and with your kids. How do we make this year better than the last one? What needs to change?


When you take the time to reflect, you’re doing important work: investing the past into the future. Gather up the day and invest it in tomorrow, gather up this year and invest in next year.


This is part of the self-development quest as you become better than you currently are. As you reflect on yourself, on your contribution to your marriage, fatherhood, family, society, church, community, and partnerships, you begin to bring more value to all these things.

4. The ability to act.


Set up the discipline to act when the intent and motivation and inspiration are high. Practice acting when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong. Do it as soon as possible; otherwise, you will be working against the law of diminishing intent. The idea dissipates after time. 


Every new discipline you start has an impact. When we decrease our disciplines, we erode our psyche. That is the greatest value of discipline – self-worth and self-esteem. The practice of acting on disciplines will affect your philosophy. Be wary of neglecting your discipline – neglect will start as infection and become a disease. This will have a great impact on our self-development. Do not let someone sweep you into a delusion that you can get away with the least amount of work. That is contrary to the law of the seasons that says unless you sow, you will not reap. Do what you can, when you can, and rest little. Make rest a necessity, not an objective. The weeds take the garden. The objective of life is not to rest. It is to act. 


When neglect happens, you have to start the small disciplines again. “I should, I could, and I will,” Rohn repeats consistently.  In the smaller disciplines, get kids involved to help weave the small acts into your lives.  The return will be great.


5. The ability to share.


If you learn a good thing or idea today, pass it along to the next person.  Pouring out and giving away what you know to others will expand your capacity to hold more of the next thing. To be the greatest and most powerful is a worthy ambition as long as it’s done at the service of many.

These are such powerful truths and serve as a great reminder of what we need to do to live our best life. I hope this is as helpful for you as it is for me.

Until next time,