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Home » The Mindset and Attitude of Thinking Wealthy: Jim Rohn (Transcript)

The Mindset and Attitude of Thinking Wealthy: Jim Rohn (Transcript)

Full text and audio of motivational speaker Jim Rohn’s talk titled “The Mindset and Attitude of Thinking Wealthy”.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Here’s the big challenge of life: you can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are. That’s the challenge.

And of course, the other side of the coin reads: unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you got.

I have found in my experience that income does not far exceed personal development. Now, sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but sure enough, unless you grow out where it is, it’ll usually come back where you are. Life has strange ways.

If somebody hands you a million dollars, best you become a millionaire quickly. So you get to keep the money. Otherwise, sure enough, it’ll disappear.

Somebody once said, if you took all the money in the world, divided it up equally among everybody, it would soon all be back in the same pockets. Incredible!

Success is something you attract, not something you pursue. Success is looking for a good place to stay. So instead of going after it, you work on yourself: personal development.

See, the major question to ask on the job is not what are you getting. The major question to ask on the job is, what are you becoming?

The big question is not what am I getting paid here. The big question is, what am I becoming here. Because true happiness is not contained in what you get. Happiness is contained in what you become.

So that’s our major subject for tonight: personal development. Of all the assignments Mr. Shoaff gave me at age 25, this was probably the most difficult. In fact, I’m still working on this one. I think it’s an unending challenge to see what you can become.

The next subject is called Basic Laws, and it’s good to study the basics. I call these basics primarily because they come from the Bible. Now I’m not a theologian or a minister, and that’ll be apparent.

But Mr. Shoaff taught me that the Bible was a good textbook for ideas and stories and success equations, how to live the better life; I found out that was true. He also taught me that the Bible is as practical as it is spiritual. And I found that that’s true.

If you look at your bank account and your income and you’re not happy, there are several places in the Bible to check to see what the heck’s wrong, so you can make the changes. And we’re going to cover some of those tonight called basics.

Okay, the next subject is my favorite: setting goals. Mr. Shoaff taught me how to set goals. What a favor that was.

One morning at breakfast shortly after I met him, he said, “Jim, let me see your current list of goals and let’s go over them and talk about them.” He said, “Maybe that’s the best way I can help you get a better direction started.”

And I said, “I don’t have a list.”

He said, “Well, is it out in the car or home somewhere?”

I said, “No, sir. I don’t have a list anywhere.”

He said “Well, young man, that’s where we got to start.” He said “I can tell you right now if you don’t have a list of your goals with you, he said, I can guess your bank balance within a few hundred dollars, which he did.

And that got my attention. I said, “You mean my bank balance would change if I had a list of goals.”

He said “Drastically.”

That day I became a willing student how to set goals. And sure enough, learning how to set goals changed my life, and I often wondered why no one had ever taught me how to set goals up until age 25.

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I went to high school, but if they offered it, I missed it. I went to college for a year. Never heard it. I work for Sears. Really. And to my knowledge, Sears never taught it, right? How to set goals.

So here I am aged 25 married, my family starting, I’ve been to college, I’m working and I still don’t know how to set goals. But fortunately, when I was 25, I met the man who taught me how, and it revolutionized my whole life: economically, socially, personally; it’s incredible.

So I want to share with you tonight what Mr. Shoaff shared with me how to set goals, it can be a life changer.

Okay. The next subject is the negative part of the seminar. Life is part negative, so we got to talk about the negative, and this subject is called diseases of attitude. Diseases of attitude.

There’s a lot of things that can wreck your chances to do well. We live in a rather dangerous world so you got to be not only wise, you got to be careful.

Now attitude diseases are just as bad as physical diseases, right? High blood pressure, heart trouble, I mean a lot of things lace your chances to do well. So you got to be careful and attitude diseases are deadly. I mean they’ll destroy all the good things you start.

Okay, so we’ll go through those attitude diseases, how to spot them, how to look for them, what they are and, and the cure. And I’m a pro on these because I’ve had them all, so I can give you excellent advice on these.

Now the last subject we’re going to consider tonight is called the day that turns your life around. The day that turns your life around. Under this subject, we’re going to talk about the emotions that can change your life.

Human beings are emotional creatures and emotions are powerful for life change. Now, of course, the emotions are so powerful they can go either way on you. Emotions can either build or destroy. So you really have to employ emotions properly.

We call civilization the intelligent management of human emotions. If you can intelligently apply your emotions in the right direction, no telling what can happen, could turn your life around one day would be sufficient. So we’ll talk about those.

Okay. Now that’s a lot to cover in one evening. But we’ll keep at it here and see if we can get it all done.

I’d like to have you now jot down the theme of the seminar. Every seminar should have a theme, I guess; we’ve got one. It’s on some of our literature if you happen to notice it, but if you didn’t for your notes. Here it is.

The theme of the seminar goes like this: the major key to your better future is you. That’s the theme of our seminar tonight. The major key to your better future is you and I’d like to have underlined two words just to give it some added punch. Underline the word major and the word you.

So that it reads the major key to your better future is you. Now my first suggestion is transfer this to a card or something where you can put it up where you can see it every day. Preferably put it up where you can see it at the beginning of the day, before you go off to put the day together. This is a good phrase, just to glance at to keep in mind as you’re putting the day together. It’s called the silent seminar.

If you’ll just let this talk to you during the day, I found it to be tremendously helpful: the major key to your better future is you. For a big share of my life now I didn’t have this one quite figured out. Among a lot of things I didn’t have quite figured out.

Many things used to puzzle me back in those early days. I used to wonder why two people could work for the same company, one make twice as much money. Now see that used to puzzle me, and maybe they were the same age. Graduated from the same school, lived in the same community, worked for the same company with the same products and the same services. They’ve got the same traffic, the same problems. And one makes 1000 a month, the other one makes 2000 a month.

Now, that was my puzzling question: why would this long list be the same and the money twice as much? I asked, what’s the difference between 1000 a month and 2000 a month? And I don’t mean 1000 a month, right? I could figure that out.

But what makes the difference? Why would one person do twice as well, three times as well? Speaking economically. Now, I know there’s more than one way to do well, I understand that.

But in this little narrow area called compensation, what’s the difference? Well, back then with my faulty thinking, I’m trying to reason it out. I thought, well, maybe time makes some of the difference, right? Some people do better because they have more time.

I used to say Harold ought to be able to do well. He’s got a lot of time. If I had all of Harold’s time I could do well. Now that’s got to be done right?

Number one, you can’t get somebody else’s time. A guy says to me one time, he says, you know, if I had some extra time, I could make some extra money. I said, then forget it. There isn’t any extra time. Hey, when the clock strikes 12 midnight, that about wraps it up, right? I mean, you can look around the gongs here for a little more, but it’s over.

You say to the guy, what are you doing? He’s looking for extra time. See, they’ll come and take you away, right? There isn’t any more time.

Now if you can’t get more time, which you can’t, what could you get more of that would make a difference in economic results. And here’s the keyword. Make it a part of your notes. We’re going to consider it tonight. The word is value. And I have a little phrase for your notes.

Value makes the difference in results. Value makes the difference. You can’t get more time but you can create more value.

Now here’s the first lesson of economics. Everybody should learn it from the time they’re old enough to understand what $1 means: how to earn one, how to get one, how to keep one, what to do with it.

First lesson of economics, we primarily get paid for value. That’s lesson one. Bringing value to the marketplace. That’s how you get paid. You don’t get paid for the time. I know it takes time to bring value to the marketplace, but you get paid for the value, not the time.

Now, since that’s true, here’s one of the key questions of the evening. Is it possible to become twice as valuable at the marketplace and make twice as much money in the same time? Could you become three times as valuable? Make three times as much money in the same time. Is that possible? The answer is yes, if… and it’s always if right?

Life is known as the big IF. Harry Truman once said life is iffy, how true! And here’s the big IF we’re going to consider it tonight. It’s possible to do much better at the marketplace if you go to work primarily on yourself. And that’s the theme of our seminar tonight, learning to work primarily on yourself.

People have asked me for the last 24 years: how do you develop an above average income? And the answer is become an above average person. Develop an above average handshake.

Some people want to be successful they don’t even work on their handshake. As easy as that would be to start on, they let it slide, they don’t understand.

Develop an above average smile, develop an above average excitement. Develop an above average interest in other people. Develop an above average intensity to win. See that’ll change everything.

Probably one of the most frustrating experiences in life is looking for an above average job with above average pay without becoming an above average person. It’s called Frustration.

And Mr. Shoaff gave me probably the greatest clue he gave me when I first met him. He said, “Jim, if you want to be wealthy and happy, the rest of your life, just learn this lesson well.” He said:

“Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

Then Mr. Shoaff gave me probably one of the most important clues among so many things he taught me but this was in those early days. Mr. Shoaff was very kind, but he was also very abrupt. And he had these interesting questions to ask. I’m giving him a little run down one day on how things hadn’t worked out for me.

He said, Mr. Rohn, I’ve got the answer for you, if you will listen carefully. And listen carefully I did that day and for the next five years. If somebody’s wealthy and happy, he got a list. He said, Jim, I’ve only known you a short time. But he said it’s already my honest opinion that for things to change for you, you’ve got to change. That wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for.

But that’s the answer he gave me and I pass it along to you on this warm summer evening in Anaheim, California 1981. For things to change for you, you’ve got to change. Otherwise, it isn’t going to change.

Before I met Mr. Shoaff, I used to say, I sure hope things will change, right? That seemed to be my only hope. If it isn’t going to change, I’m in serious trouble. And then I discovered it isn’t going to change so I’m in serious trouble.

See, I can tell you what the 80s are going to be like. You have dropped into the right place. I did a seminar one time for Standard Oil executives and management in Honolulu. And we’re having a conference one day on this big conference table.

And one of them said to me, “Mr. Rohn, you know some fairly important people halfway around the world; what do you think the 80s are going to be like?”

I said, “Gentlemen, I do know the right people. I can tell you.” So they all listened very carefully. And I said “Gentlemen, based on my wide experience, I can really honestly say to you, in my opinion, in the 80s it’s going to be about like it’s always been.” Aren’t you glad you came that’s inside, I don’t pass that around just everywhere.

Now of course, I said that to make a point but I also said it because it’s accurate. It’s going to be about like it’s always been, it isn’t going to change. The tide comes in and then what? It goes out. For six and a half thousand years that we know of recorded history, and probably long before that, so it is not going to change.

It gets light and then what? It turns dark. Six and half thousand years; see it’s not likely to change. And we’re not to be startled by that.

If the sun goes down, the guy says what’s happened? What’s happened? It means he hasn’t been here long, I guess right? It always goes down about this time.

The guy says, “Well, I don’t like that arrangement. Well, you got to talk to somebody besides me, right? It gets light, then it turns dark.

In rotation the next season after fall is what? Winter. Pray tell how often does winter follow fall. Every year regularly for the last six and a half thousand that we know of. See it is not going to change.

Now some winters are long and some are short and some are hard and some are easy, but they always come right after falls. It isn’t going to change. Sometimes you can figure it out. Sometimes there’s no way to figure it out. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it gets in a knot.

Sometimes it sails along. Sometimes it gets in reverse. See, that’s not going to change. The last 6000 years reads like this: opportunity mixed with difficulty. That’s how it reads, it isn’t going to change.

The man says, well, if it isn’t going to change, how will my life ever change? Answer: when you change. And whether I’m talking to high school kids or business executives, my message is always the same and it goes like this: The only way it gets better for you is when you get better.

Let me give you the four major lessons in life to learn. Here’s four majors. It’s good to study the majors. In our weekend seminar we teach; some people don’t do well because they major in minor things. You’ve got to be on the lookout. At the end of every weekend of every month you got to check make sure you’re not spending major time on minor things. We go through that whole series: majors and minors.

Now let me give you two phrases before we get to the four majors. This will set it up and you’ll see where I’m going. Two key phrases for your notes. Here’s the first one. Life and business is like the changing seasons. That’s the first phrase, life and business is like the changing seasons.

One of the best ways to describe life it’s like the seasons. Frank Sinatra sings: life is like the seasons.

Now, here’s the second phrase, very important. You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself. You can’t change the seasons, but you can change yourself. And see that’s how life gets better for you: not by chance, but by change.

Now here’s the four major lessons in life to learn. I’ve got my first book finished, came out a couple of weeks ago. This is in it: the four major lessons in life to learn. Here they are.

Learn How To Handle The Winters

Number one: Learn How To Handle The Winters. That’s lesson one. They come right after falls, with regularity. Some are long and some are short and some are hard and some are easy but they keep coming.

You must learn to handle the nights; they come right after days. You must learn to handle difficulty; it comes right after opportunity. You must learn to handle recessions. They always follow progressions for the last 6000.

See, it isn’t going to change. The lesson you must learn is how to handle it and there’s all kinds of winters, right? The winter when you can’t figure it out, the winter when it all go smashed, the winter when it turns belly up, the winter when it won’t work, when you’ve run out of money and you’ve got a broken heart… see those are winter times.

There’s all kinds: economic winters, social winters, personal winters. When your heart is smashed in 1000 pieces, and the nights are unusually long. Your prayers seem to go no higher than your head. It’s wintertime.

Barbra Streisand sings: it used to be so natural, to talk about forever, but ‘used to be’s’ don’t count anymore. They just lay on the floor till we sweep them away.

You don’t sing me love song. And you don’t say you need me. And you don’t bring me flowers anymore; a song of winter. But see, the disappointments come? Those are normal. That’s part of life.

But the question is how do you handle it? How do you handle the coming winters and the disappointments and the downtimes? Well, you can’t get rid of January by tearing it off the calendar.

But here’s what you can do. You can get stronger, you can get wiser, and you can get better. The winters won’t change but you can. And that’s how life changes for you.

See, before I understood when it was winter, I used to wish it was summer. I didn’t understand. When it was hard, I used to wish it was easy. I didn’t know. And then Mr. Shoaff gave me a part of his very unique philosophy when he said: Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better.

See that triggered my whole life change. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge; wish for more wisdom. That’s the key.

So that’s lesson one: learn how to handle the winters.

Learn How To Take Advantage Of The Spring

Here’s Lesson two: LEARN HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SPRING. That’s the second one.

Spring is called opportunity, and spring follows winter; what a great place for it. If you’re going to put it somewhere that’d be the place to put it, right after winter.

And pray tell how often does spring follow winter? Every year with regularity, 6000. You can almost count on it.

See, opportunity always comes. Days follow nights; isn’t that terrific? Opportunity follows difficulty but here’s what you must learn to do; underline these two words in that key phrase: Take Advantage, underline those two. You must learn to take advantage of the spring.

See, just because spring rolls around, there is no sign, you’re going to look good come fall, you got to do something with it. In fact, you have to get good at one of two things in life: planting in the spring or begging in the fall. Or get somebody to do it for you. See, those are about the only alternatives.

Now here’s what else you must do: take advantage of the springs quickly because there’s only a few, just a handful of springs have been handed to each of us. They don’t come forever. Life is fairly brief. So you got to read every book you can get your hands on and what to do with your springs while they’re here and take advantage they soon run out.

The Beatles wrote: life is so short, and for John Lennon, it was extra short. But life is brief. Elton john sings: she lived her life like a candle in the wind. It’s brief. So whatever you’re going to do with your life you got to get at it. Don’t just let the springs pass, pass.

Learn How To Protect Your Crops All Summer

Here’s the third major lesson in life to learn: LEARN HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CROPS ALL SUMMER. You got to take care of what you start. Sure enough, as soon as you’ve planted your garden in the spring, the busy bugs and the noxious weeds are out to take it.

And here’s the next bit of truth, they will take it unless you prevent it. And that’s the third major skill to learn. You’ve got to learn to prevent the intruder from taking all the good you start. It’s one of the challenges.

Here’s two key phrases on the number three. First one, all good will be attacked on this planet, maybe not the next one we get to but on this one all good will be attacked. Every garden will be invaded, not to think so is naive.

And here’s the second phrase: All values must be defended: political values social values, community values, family values, marriage values, friendship values, business values, every garden must be tended all summer. Third major lesson.

Learn How To Reap In The Fall Without Complaint

Now here’s number four. Fourth major lesson in life to learn: LEARN HOW TO REAP IN THE FALL WITHOUT COMPLAINT.

Learn to reap come harvest time, without complaint. Take full responsibility for what happens to you. It’s one of the highest forms of human maturity, accepting full responsibility. It’s the day you know you’ve passed from childhood to adulthood, the day you accept full responsibility.

And another note, learn to reap in the fall without apology. Without apology if you do well and without complaint if you don’t, that’s maturity.

I used to have that long list of reasons why I wasn’t doing well. To explain, you got to explain right, otherwise you’re going to look bad. I used to have this funny list called reasons for not looking good.

I used to blame the government. I mean, you can believe that or not. It was at the top of my list. I had a lecture second to none: the government; that was on the list.

I used to blame taxes. Look what you got left after they take everything. And they expect you to do well. That was a molester.

Prices. That one’s easy, right? You walk into the supermarket with $20; come out with a little half bag. I had that on the list.

I used to blame the weather. I blamed the traffic. I used to blame my car. I blamed the manufacturers. I used to blame the company. I blamed company policy. I used to blame the training program. I blamed my negative relatives. They were always putting me down. I blamed my cynical neighbors. They’re just selfish, looking out for themselves, won’t loan your money. They were on my list.

I used to blame the economy. I blamed the community. That’s a pretty good list for not doing well, isn’t it? I thought it was good. I’ll never forget one day. Mr. Shoaff was very kind, but he was also very blunt. And this was no exception. And I’m glad he was blunt. There’s a lot of things I’d have missed if he hadn’t been blunt.

One day was sort of a curious look on his face. He said, “Jim, just out of curiosity, tell me how come you haven’t done well up until now?” Excellent question.

I thought well, so I won’t look too bad. I’ll go through my list. And this list I just gave you, I put that on him. And he was very patient. He let me go through the whole thing. The government, the weather, I went through this whole thing.

When I finished, he looked my lists over very carefully. He said “Mr. Rohn, big problem with your list; you ain’t on it.” How brilliant!

When I went to work for him a few months later, I learned very quickly to tear up my list: reasons for not doing well and I threw it away. And I got me a fresh piece of paper. And I put one word on it: Me.

There’s a Black [Heritage spiritual] that says it’s not my mother nor my father nor my brother nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord standing in the need of prayer.

See, I used to blame everything outside. And then let me give you a little philosophy that helped turn my life around. For your notes, here it is. It’s not what happens that determines the quality or the quantity of your life. It’s not what happens. And the reason is because what happens, happens to about everybody, no different.

The sun went down on all of us last night, a common event a happening. And I found out that the same things can happen to two different people. One gets rich and one stays poor. Why is that? It’s because it’s not what happens, but rather it’s what you do. That changes everything.

So that’s a key phrase. It’s not what happens. It’s what you do. What happens is about the same; you might put that in parentheses here, same; what people do, that’s what’s different. Anything can happen, right? Everything can happen. I’ve heard all the stories. I’ve been one of the stories.

Hey, we can all tell stories all night long, right, happenings. Anything can happen. Have you heard of Murphy’s laws? Anybody here heard of Murphy’s laws? Okay most of you have.

Murphy had these laws. One of them was: if anything can go wrong, it will. That’s one of Murphy’s laws. He was not one of the great positive speakers of the day. But anyway, it’s still true though, right? Anything can go wrong, everything can go wrong. For sure.

I’ve fallen out of the sky so many times. Wants to the tune of a couple of million. Devastating, took me a while to survive that one. Now, it wasn’t all that much, but it was all I had. I mean, that’s when it’s much, right, when it’s all you got. If you got three, two go, you got one left. You ain’t looking that bad. But when it all goes, has anybody been there when it all went? Anybody. Come on, rest of you liars. Hey we’ve all been there right? When it all went.

Of course, used to be a long time ago right when you ran out of money, got to zero, you were all through. Heck, now you can whistle right on by zero. They will bury you; that’s what they will do.

But see, those are the happenings, right? Everything can happen. Anything can happen. But it’s not the happenings. It’s what you do about it. Somebody says: Yeah, but you don’t understand the disappointments I’ve had.

Come on. Everybody’s had their share. Disappointments are not special gifts reserved for the poor. Everybody has them. The difference is what you do about them. It’s not the weather. I used to blame the weather and I discovered it rains on the rich. So see that won’t help.

Two men wake up one morning, there’s a rainstorm on. One of them looks out his window, sees the rainstorm and he says, “Wow, what a storm with weather like this. They can’t expect you to go out and make sales.” He stays home.

Same morning, the other guy looks out his window, sees the same storm says: “Wow, what a storm!” But he says you know what with weather like this, what a great day to go out make sales. Most everybody will probably be wrong, especially the salesman.

See, that’s the difference in how your life works out. It’s not what happens. It’s what you do.

So here’s one of the key questions of the evening, Starting tomorrow, what are you going to do that will make a change in your life’s direction? Good question.

What are you going to do starting tomorrow that’ll make a difference? Now see if you don’t do some things, starting tomorrow that’ll make a difference. Guess what? It’s going to be the same.

And see that way you can guess what the next five years are going to be like, look at the last five. Because the next five, we’re going to be like the last five unless you, major key, tomorrow, change it all, or change a little or change something or don’t change. It’s choice time. You can do whatever you want.

But it’s nice to know any day you wish you can change your whole life.

Download This Transcript as PDF here: The Mindset and Attitude of Thinking Wealthy_ Jim Rohn (Transcript)

Resources for Further Reading:

The Diseases of Attitude: Jim Rohn (Full Transcript)

Jim Rohn: Wake Up Your Potential (Transcript)

Les Brown: You Have Greatness within You – Seminar of The Century (Full Transcript)

Les Brown: It’s Not Over Until You Win! (Full Transcript)


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