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by Jim Rohn
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003
Review by David Wolf on Nov 10th 2004

The Art of Exceptional Living

The metaphors and models that dominate Jim Rohn's speaking are drawn from the life of rural America, with particular emphasis on paying close attention to the four seasons. He says, for example, learn that "winters follow falls;" we should prepare for life's winters, even the winters of "discontent." His lessons are perennial and perhaps have a universal appeal--even for many city people.

Rohn tells his personal story first, the way many motivational speakers do, to establish that he knows what it is like when nothing works, when there is no money, when we are "behind on our promises." His story leads to the experience of transformation since he was lucky enough to meet a mentor, his employer for five years, whose insights and experience changed Rohn's life by changing his outlook. Rohn wants to play such a mentoring role in the listening of his audience; he does it with style, energy, and impressive credibility.

The most interesting, even innovative, aspect of Rohn's first CD here is his emphasis on "philosophy" as the way to success in life. Philosophy is a subject (and a word) most success-motivation speakers avoid for fear of falling prey to anti-intellectual bias everywhere. "Philosophy doesn't bake bread" a poet wrote, and many have misapplied this insight, suspecting philosophy itself is dispensable. Rohn knows better than approach the being of human being without attending to its philosophical aspects. He knows that each person is not like a silly goose who can "only fly south" in autumn; every person can use the mind to set a personal course through life. Philosophy, Rohn argues, is a vital, transformative power available to each person who wants more out of life.

Rohn shows the ways that "study" and "building a personal library" and "keeping a journal" all contribute to developing a philosophy that can lead to success. He names some good books people should read--such as How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (once described as "America's wealthiest philosopher") or The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. He says, don't be afraid to try a little of the harder stuff for your reading--it will stretch you, help you grow.

Rohn's points add up to the not-so-popular insight that being truly human and wanting more than a middling existence requires a bit of discipline, the judgment to set up specific disciplines and stick with them daily for a long time. No "quick fix" expert is he; study and discipline will yield a philosophy and this is the ground of lasting success.

It's a pleasure to hear someone successful in business tell that truth about succeeding. And he does it with energetic style. People who really want to make some needed changes in their lives would do well to buy this program, listen to it often, and make the specific changes Rohn recommends.

The fundamental premise behind Rohn's teaching is that each of us is completely responsible for what we do about our lives, how we handle what happens to us, our attitudes, and especially, what sorts of things and people we attract to ourselves. It just doesn't help to complain, to whine, to blame circumstances, negative people our jobs, or indeed, anything outside ourselves. We make our own realities. This is the Jim Rohn approach.

What he offers is inspiring and plausible. Rather than "wishing things were easier" we should wish we are "better" and "have more skills." Rather than complaining about too little pay and too much tax, we should see earning as "a ladder" and "not a bed" and learn how to climb well. Climbing has little to do with position, he says, and much to do with outlook.


2004 David Wolf


David Wolf is the author of Philosophy That Works, a book about the practice of philosophy. His book page for orders (hardback & paperback) is ; readers can also see the first chapter there.

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