Inspired by The Jim Rohn Classic DVD Series
I learned early on from my mentor Mr. Shoaff that if you are going to
achieve any level of success in your life, you need a good library. The very first book he recommended to me was Think and Grow Rich
by Napoleon Hill. I remember Mr. Shoaff saying to me, “Doesn’t that book and title intrigue you? Think and Grow Rich
. You have to read that book, Think and Grow Rich
.” I said, “Yes sir.”
I went and found that book in a used bookstore. I paid less than fifty cents for it. I still have it today. It’s one of the rare hardback covers.
Wow! Mr. Shoaff was right. That one book got me started on an amazing journey. “Get a library started; it’ll change your life.” His words still ring true.
Most large, exquisite homes have a library. Does that tell you something? And you say, “Well, I can’t afford a large, exquisite home!” It doesn’t matter what size home. Take your present apartment, clean out a closet, call it your library, and start acting intelligent. And start this process as I did. Start developing a library.
Here’s what your library needs to show: that you’re a serious student of health and life, spirituality, culture, uniqueness, sophistication, economics, prosperity, productivity, sales, management, skills, values of all kinds. Let your library show you’re a serious student!
Here are some key sections to put in your library, called mental food. In fact we call it “food for thought.” It’s so important to nourish the mind, not just the body, but nourish the mind.
Also, it needs to be “well balanced.” You can’t live on mental candy. Somebody says, “Well, I read just positive stuff.” That’s second-grade philosophy. You’ve got to get out of second grade. You can’t just be inspired; you’ve got to be taught. You can’t just be inspired; you’ve got to be educated. That’s key.
Let me give you some of that balance he suggests:
Number one, history. We’ve all got to have a sense of history. American history, national history, international history, family history, political history. We all need a sense of history.
Shortest history lesson – it’s all opportunity mixed with difficulty. No matter how far back you go, 1,000 years ago, 2,000 years ago, 3,000, 4,000 years ago, it all reads the same. History helps us to understand how it is, what there is to work with, seeds, soil, sunshine, rain. And what human beings have done with it in the past, and how many of them have – as I did by age 25 – messed up! That’s what history is for. Be a good student of history.
Here’s another good book, Lessons of History
by Will Durant. This little book is only 100 pages, but I’m telling you, it’s so well written you’ll be as intrigued as I was.
Next is philosophy. Durant also wrote a book on philosophy, The Story of Philosophy
. It’s a good rundown of the key philosophers of the last several hundred years, what they taught, and some of the lives they lived.
There’s a key phrase to add here in — don’t just read the easy stuff; you won’t grow, you won’t change, you won’t develop. Tackle the more difficult material.
Next, novels. Novels are good because sometimes an intriguing story keeps our attention so that the author can weave in the philosophy he or she is trying to get across. Ayn Rand was probably better at that than anybody else I can possibly think of. Atlas Shrugged
, that novel kept us intrigued, but guess what she was doing all the time? Feeding us her philosophy. Now whether you agreed with her philosophy or not, she was really good at getting it out there, weaving it through the story in the dialogue and in the speeches and in the text.
Next are biographies and autobiographies, the stories of successful people, unsuccessful people. There are some dramatic biographies written over the last 100 years. Here’s one of the best — the Bible. The Bible is a unique book because it’s got a list of human stories on one side of the ledger, another list of human stories on the other side of the ledger. One list is called examples, and the other is called warnings. And here’s what we’ve got to have on biographies and autobiographies, both warnings and examples.
The Bible says to look at the examples’ lives, follow their philosophy, follow their advice. Then there are warnings. Don’t do what these people did. They messed up their life and threw their life away. Both sides of the scenario are vitally important.
Also, we need balance, both sides, good and evil. Biographies and autobiographies that illustrate how high a human being can go and the other one to illustrate how low and despicable a human being can become. You need both sides of the scenario to learn.
Next, accounting. You’ve got to have at least a primary view of accounting. Children have got to start learning the difference between a debit and a credit.
Next is law. You have to have knowledge of law. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but you need to know contracts, what to sign, what not to sign, backups, good advice, how to be safe rather than sorry. All of us need a little law, especially in these complicated days. Everything’s in court these days. I’m asking you to study a little law, know what to sign, know how to defend yourself.
Be a student. Don’t be lazy in learning, ever. Let your library indicate that you’re a serious student about personal relationships with your family, gifts and skills, economics, and all the rest.
Mr. Shoaff said to me, “Mr. Rohn, don’t only be a student, but the good ideas that you develop from the books, keep a separate journal, write everything down.” He added, “Don’t trust your memory!” If you’re serious about becoming wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, unique, keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. If you listen to something valuable, write it down. If you come across something important, write it down. Write it down.
Now, I used to take notes on pieces of paper and torn-off corners and backs of old envelopes and restaurant placemats and long sheets and narrow sheets and little sheets and pieces and throw it in a drawer. Rather, keep a journal. I’ve been keeping these journals now since age 25. It makes up a valuable part of my own learning. And it’s a valuable part of my library. My own journals now form a good portion of my own library. It’s all good stuff. I’m asking you, keep a journal. I call it one of the three treasures to leave behind.
Number one is your pictures. Take a lot of pictures. You can sometimes look back, two, three generations, with just a handful of photographs. Wouldn’t it be something if there was album after album, thousands of pictures to help tell the story? A picture is worth, yes, a thousands words. Don’t be lazy in capturing the event. How long does it take to capture the event? A fraction of a second. How long does it take to miss the event? A fraction of a second. Be disciplined. Take lots of pictures. Help tell the story. Click, click, got it. It’s key.
Next, your library. The library that you gathered, that taught you, that instructed you, that helped you to defend your ideals, that helped you to develop a philosophy, that helped you to become wealthy and powerful and healthy and sophisticated and unique. The library that helps you conquer some disease, the library that helps you to conquer poverty, the library that caused you to walk away from bad situations. Your
library. The books that instructed you
, fed your mind, and fed your soul! Leave your library behind. One of the greatest gifts you can leave behind is your library. It’s like stepping stones out of the darkness into the light.
And third are your journals. They contain the ideas that you picked up, the notes that you took. Wherever you found an occasion to gather something valuable and write it down so you could go back over it and go back over it. Repetition is the mother of skill. Read it one more time; learn it one more time. See if you can’t digest it one more time. Let it coach you one more time. Let it teach you one more time. Let it inspire you one more time. Words are inspirational. Let them instruct you. Let them feed you. Let them teach you. Let them take you on wings of emotional journeys. That’s what’s so important.
And here’s what’s important about your journal. It’s all the ideas you took the meticulous time to gather. It’s one of the greatest proofs that you’re a serious student. Taking pictures — that’s pretty easy. Buying a book — that’s pretty easy. Keeping a journal — that’s a little more challenging. Be a student of your own life and your own future and your own destiny. You’ll be so glad you did.