In his magnum opus, 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness, Jim Rohn defines five key words for living the life you desire: (1) Fundamentals, (2) Wealth, (3) Happiness, (4) Discipline, and (5) Success.  It’s only when you understand what these five words mean, that you can apply his principles to your life. And you definitely do…
KEY WORD #1 – FUNDAMENTALS
Fundamentals are “those basic principles on which all accomplishment is built.” The Pareto principle (or 80/20 Rule or Law of the Vital Few) dictates that 20% of the causes produce 80% of the effects. To Jim Rohn, fundamentals are those 20%. More precisely, he believed there are only about a half-dozen or so things in any discipline that make up that 80%. Whether you are trying to make more money or improve your health – the key is to find out what those Vital Few are. In Jim’s words, “Success is no more than the natural consequence of consistently applying the fundamentals of wealth to life.”
KEY WORD #2 – WEALTH
In the abstract, wealth is “the conversion of effort and enterprise into currency and equity.” We all want to be free from financial pressures, have more choices, and have more opportunities. Though the amount of wealth necessary will vary from person to person, it is the mechanism by which such freedom is obtained.
KEY WORD #3 – HAPPINESS
According to Jim Rohn, “[h]appiness is the skill of reacting to the offerings of life by perception and by enjoyment.” Thus, happiness is not just a feeling you get when you acquire something of value or when something beneficial happens to you; rather, it’s an attitude by which you live your life – in easy times and tough ones. It’s making lemonade from lemons; appreciating the little things in life; it’s a whole attitude encompassing your life. You achieve happiness by giving as well as from receiving. You must deliberately expand your horizons by charting the unknown. Rohn says, “Happiness is a life well-lived and filled with people of substance. It’s a wide variety of experiences and memories that become priceless forms of currency to spend and to invest.”
KEY WORD #4 – DISCIPLINE
Of all the words, this is the most critical: Discipline. “Discipline is the foundation on which all success is built.” And lack of discipline, therefore, will inevitably lead to failure. Without discipline, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration will never lead to great accomplishment.
Rohn says that failure is rarely an isolated event. And even small failures of discipline, repeated often, will have exponentially more detrimental ramifications. Stop brushing your teeth for a few weeks, you’re going to get a cavity. But the good news is that with discipline, even small successes repeated daily can have the exact opposite effect: exponentially greater results!
Discipline, Rohn says, is the master key to unlock “the door to wealth and happiness, culture and sophistication, high self-esteem and high accomplishment, and the accompanying feelings of pride, satisfaction, and success.”
Jim Rohn on Acquiring Discipline
According to Jim Rohn, there are three things it takes to acquire discipline: (1) develop an awareness for the importance of discipline in your life – you must know that you cannot reap tomorrow if you do not sow the field today; (2) ask yourself honestly, “Am I willing to do what it takes?” – if the answer is no, you need a better reason to be disciplined; and (3) prepare for the worst – you will be tested: circumstances will emerge, be it a hardship, road block, or another endeavor – you must endure and perform, no matter what. I think of Marcia Clark as the epitome of discipline. Not only was she lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trial, but she was also embroiled in a messy divorce, under constant scrutiny from the press and public, and had a life maintain and child to raise. While she didn’t win the OJ case, she did get full custody of her child – despite working 100+ hours weeks during the trial. I think only extraordinary discipline – discipline to do what she needed to do both for her career and her family – got her that far.
Benefits of Discipline
What’s more, discipline immediately changes your life. “Certainly discipline will do much for you” Rohn says, “But of even greater importance is what it will do to you … A new discipline immediately changes the direction of your life, like ship turning in mid-ocean and heading toward a new destination.”
Perhaps the best piece of advice Rohn offers on discipline though is this: “Do not say, ‘If I could, I would.’ Say instead, ‘If I would, I could…If I will, I can!’” Imagine that yesterday, last week, last year, that none of it existed. Today and every day going forward is all that matters, no matter how many mistakes you think you’ve made, not matter how far you think you have to go, remember that today is the day to turn your life around. So make a plan. And remember even the smallest of steps forward is still a step in the right direction.
KEY WORD #5 – SUCCESS
Success is a relative concept to most, but to Jim Rohn it’s generally applicable: “Success is the steady, measured progress toward a goal and the achievement of a goal.” So whatever you are doing, whatever your station in life – success is the effort exerted to steadily move towards a larger goal as well as the attainment of the goal. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 3L in law school aiming to pass the bar, a real estate agent who needs more leads, or the cashier at Publix: if you are steadily working towards the future you desire, you are being successful. But most importantly remember this: “Success is the process of turning away from something in order to turn towards something better — …” Thus, to have success – to be successful — you may need to give up watching Netflix tonight in order to do a little more work; you may need to work on that side hustle on your lunch break; and, almost certainly, you will need to give up to grow up.
To see more of Jim Rohn’s amazing body of work, please visit JimRohn.com.