On “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn

As the first quarter of 2012 draws to a close I find myself reflecting on the months already past, and envisioning what is to come for the rest of the year.

How am I doing? Where am I going? How will I get there? These are some of the questions swirling through my head right now.
When searching for motivation and focus, I believe in following the fundamentals. For me, nobody says it better and more clearly than Jim Rohn. He is the grandfather of the “motivational speaker and author” movement that swept the world, and for good reason. (Actually it’s possible that the original motivational author was Seneca, but I digress). To put his credibility into perspective, Jim Rohn was the first mentor of the considerably more famous Tony Robbins.

Today I took the time to re-listen to Jim Rohn’s excellent audio book, “The Art of Exceptional Living”. It’s under two hours and it will change your life. Rohn’s simple concepts and pointed logic are as powerful and razor sharp as anything I’ve ever come across. If I could only have one audio book, this would be it.
Here are some of my special notes from the reading below.

- Personal philosophy is the cornerstone of your achievement.
- Read, read, read! Build a library with a wide variety of interests and topics. Focus on the best stuff. Avoid the junk. Books allow you to access the wisdom of the world. Read books over again, and extract information carefully. “You don’t hear a song that you like and only listen to it once, do you?”
- Act on your knowledge! Don’t live a life that is 90% under-utilized. Keep pouring out the ideas and actions… more will come in. Rest is a necessity, not an objective. Keep acting. Act with intent, while the energy and emotion are highest. (And avoid diminishing intent).
- Create greater value. The market- i.e. reality- will only reward greater value.
- Share. Sharing (e.g. books, knowledge, ideas, talks) doesn’t only help others, it helps you- especially via repetition.

In addition to my notes, I also took down a few quotes that stood out to me: - “Don’t wish that it were easier, wish that you were better. Don’t wish for fewer challenges- wish for greater wisdom”.
- “Work harder on your self than on your job”.
- “I’ll look after me… for you- if you’ll look after you… for me”.
- “If you wish to be successful, study success. If you wish to be happy, study happiness. If you wish to be wealthy, study wealth.”
- “You may not be able to do all you find out, but make sure you find out all you can do.”
- “It’s not what happens that determines your future, it’s what you do about it.”
- “Everybody has to be good at either of two things: Planting in the spring or begging in the fall.”
- ”Motivation alone isn’t enough. Take an idiot and motivate him and you have a motivated idiot.”

Lastly, here is Jim Rohn’s famous definition of failure and success:”Failure: A few errors in judgement, repeated every day.”
"Success: A few simple disciplines, repeated every day."

The Art of Selling by Alec Baldwin

This legendary, hard-nosed speech on selling by Alec Baldwin comes from the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s one of my favourites.

Life Lessons from “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

All achievement in life begins with the spark of inspiration. If motivation keeps the internal fire burning while pursuing a goal, inspiration is the matchstick. And as the old saying goes, “You can’t light a fire with a wet match”.
Last night while doing a little reflecting, I remembered the incredibly moving talk by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007 titled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. The lecture was part of a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for retiring professors who were to give a lecture on whatever they wished to share with students as the last lecture they gave before they died—metaphorically speaking of course. The cosmic irony in this case is that Prof. Pausch had terminal pancreatic cancer at the time of his lecture (he passed away several months later).

The cancer did not stop him that day. His lecture was so profound that it ended up being watched by millions, converted into a book, and for a two hour presentation—it changed the world. 
Here’s the video which I highly recommend:

To me, some of the most memorable life lessons that he shared were (my favourites in bold):
  • Always have something to bring to the table- it helps (i.e. be good at something).
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • Leadership is a highly valuable skill. In Star Trek, Captain Kirk was far from the smartest officer- but he had the skill of leadership.
  • When you want something from someone, try to ask them at a time when they can’t say no.
  • If you wait long enough, people will surprise you (i.e. if you’re pissed with someone now, eventually they will show you their good side).
  • When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.
  • Don’t complain. Just work harder.
  • When you do the right thing, good stuff has a way of happening.
  • Be prepared, because luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
  • Brick walls are there for a reason. They help us to prove how badly we want something. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their goal badly enough.
Randy Pausch’s last lecture will always be special to me, as a source of valuable lessons, and a personal inspiration. 

How Much Weight Can I Lose in 8 Weeks by Following The 4-Hour Body Book? And, A Personal Bet

I recently purchased the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book The 4-Hour Body by self help guru Timothy Ferriss, and ended up so engaged that I’ve read it (well, all the parts most relevant to me) twice in 2 days.

This is the book’s cover:


Obviously to me and 75% of the other people who’ve read this book, the most compelling sections of it are those dedicated to fat loss. Tim goes into detail about the value of starting small, tracking progress, following an effective diet and doing sometimes strange sounding things to add leverage to the whole program. If fat loss or muscle gain are something you are interested in, I recommend that you buy this book immediately.

I’ve read a lot of books on this subject, and the best books out there (such as Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle by Tom Venuto) are often excellent. The difference with Tim’s writing is that not only is it information dense, it also inspires practical action on every page. It fires you up, but also gives you the tools to do something with that motivation. Perfect for that time in someone’s life that Tim describes as their "Harajuku Moment”.

I’m not a newbie to the health and fitness movement. When I was 16 years old, I competed in my first Under 21 IFBB bodybuilding competition at a low single digit body fat percentage. Here’s a photo from that show, weighing in at 62kg:


I didn’t place well or anything- but that wasn’t the point, and I was by far the youngest competitor there. I did it to prove to myself that I could. Eating primarily fish and vegetables with hardly any carbs for 12 weeks makes for one very cranky teenager.

In the time since then, I kept up my passionate enthusiasm for training, eating right, and looking after myself, generally weighing in at a muscular 71-74kg. Over the last 2 years, though, that commitment to my health and fitness somehow fell to pieces. They say that nobody wakes up one morning suddenly being fat, it’s rather the result of repeated bad choices that have compounded over several days, weeks and months. My weight today: 87kg.

Maybe the cause of getting fat was starting a new business, working ridiculous hours and managing stress badly and snacking on “comfort foods”, maybe it was getting into a serious relationship (which is wonderful, by the way) and having less idle time available, maybe it was all the travel, maybe it was eating out all the time… maybe it was all of the above. But making excuses and postulating about the past doesn’t change a thing. I’m still a whopping 14kg over my regular weight, and no amount of post-rationalization will change that.

Armed with the principles from The 4-Hour Body, I’ve decided to make the change. Of course I have decided to try to make changes before, and failed. Life happens. As they say in boxing, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the face.” But this time it’s different- this time I’m putting my goal out there in public for my all my friends to see! This idea was sparked by a psychology hack discussed in the book where people who made public bets and faced humiliation if they didn’t win were far more likely to achieve their goals.

So here is my bet: I’ll wager anybody who takes me up on it 100 bucks that I will drop my weight to 81kg in next 8 weeks, i.e lose 6kg (13 pounds). Any takers? Just email me or leave a comment. I’ll be tracking my progress publicly on this cool data measurement site here.

This was a tough post to write, but there’s no turning back now. Wish me luck!