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Jim Rohn, My Mentor

Recently I learned that I had lost my mentor who passed away last December. I had only met Jim Rohn three times, at seminars I attended, but I read his books and listened to his lectures on cassette tape, for probably hundreds of hours. While driving in my car in the ’80s and ’90s, I almost wore the cassettes out.

His life may have passed but his wisdom is timeless. He taught me more about personal growth and self-actualization than I learned in all the years of school through graduate school. Mr. Rohn’s words written below come from his books and my recollections of his talks.

In one talk, he told a story of some successful business people in his audience who asked him to predict what the future would be like based on his own experience in business and sales. Mr. Rohn said that the future would be similar to the past: opportunity mixed with difficulty, the same as it’s been for more than six thousand years of recorded history.

If ‘things’ don’t really change, then what can be changed? His answered that we each need to change and grow and take advantage of our experience and that of others, authors and historians who relate past trials and tribulations so that we don’t need to experience everything personally to learn life’s most important lessons.

In these current “times that try men’s souls,” I am channeling Jim Rohn for he was a type of motivational speaker who spoke realism and practical perspectives. He taught that the only motivation is self motivation. You can’t just rely on someone else to stimulate you, because what if they don’t show up? What was most important, he warned, was to be careful of what you became in pursuit of what you wanted. And having more money is just not the full answer because more money only made you more of the character you already had become. If you were a gambler, you could now be a bigger gambler; if you were charitable, you could be more charitable. If you inherit a million dollars best you become a millionaire in your behavior and attitude very quickly. Because gold quickly slips through the fingers of those unskilled in it’s keep.

I remember when my two sons, Ben and Jeffrey, were in their teens and playing sports. They were better athletes than me, I am proud to say. My son Ben announced one day that he would join the NBA, make lots of money and therefore did not need to think about attending college. I said I am sure that you will make it to the NBA but you still need to go to school. Think of what happened to the great lefty pitcher for the Phillies, Steve Carlton. He made plenty of money but due to a poor or incompetent financial advisor, Carlton had lost most of his money through unwise investments. Ben must have listened because he did graduate from Cornell but did not make it to the NBA!

If we haven’t been born with the skills to live a successful life or fortunate enough to be taught the proper lessons during our childhood or educational life, then it’s up to each of us to make the changes necessary – without complaint.

What we are and what we have, we have slowly brought upon ourselves. Everyone is self made but only the successful will admit it. I know the economy can be tough, prices of supplies may rise, the government may take too much in taxes or run up the deficit but the fundamentals of success have not changed. It is the human tendency to blame someone or something else for our failures. There’s an old spiritual tune that says “it’s not my mother, my father, my sister or my brother standing in the need of prayer, oh Lord, it’s me.”

So a primary fundamental would be to take responsibility for our lot in life. The greatest value of the past is an understanding of how we can invest it in the future. Rabbi Kushner recently said that in order to be happy we cannot continue to hold onto our past failures. Accept them and move on. Everyone has ups and downs. Do you need to be reminded of the hardships and failures that Abraham Lincoln faced? And yet he became one of our greatest presidents. George Washington was to have the aid of two additional divisions of infantry to meet up with him when he crossed the Delaware on Christmas. But due to horrible weather only Washington’s troops made it to Trenton. What if GW had stopped because of a lack of planned support? We’d likely be speaking the King’s English today.

One of the greatest challenges of life is have both the wisdom to recognize those sources of negativity and the courage to cast them aside if necessary. Get rid or stifle those sources that may be poisoning your mind. It may be your family members or close friends; help like that you don’t need and you can choose to ignore.

There’s little difference between one who has given up his life and one who has given up his hope. Beware that there are those who will frown upon those who set ambitious goals. Yet without goals there can be no achievement and without achievement life will be as it has been. It’s our duty to examine the credentials or authority of those seeking to enter within the place where your attitudes are formed. The value of surrounding yourself with the correct, positive, realistic, supportive advisors and friends is immeasurably awesome. Protect your attitude as attitude determines choice and choice determines results.

All that we are and all that we can become has indeed been left unto us. The only limitation placed on our abilities is our own inability to easily recognize our unlimited nature. It is ironic that one of the few things in life over which we have total control is our attitude. And yet many of us live our entire life behaving as though we had no control whatsoever. By our attitudes we and we alone will actually decide to succeed or fail.

I realize that it’s much easier to listen to the lectures and wisdom than to absorb and employ and empower the guidance. Keeping an open mind towards positive outcomes and developing the discipline required is not just ‘happy hope.’ Don’t close yourself off to growth and profit possibilities with a poor negative attitude.

Yes times are tough. But many people are still employed and still wearing uniforms. They also purchase other products. At Greco Apparel, we have increased the types of products we source and manufacture from many types of apparel to include headwear and footwear. We have increased the number of countries from which we source to take advantage of sustainability for fabric sourcing, best prices and opportunistic trade laws in the both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres.

No one granted us a license to expand and diversify. We listened to the demands and requests of our clients and prospects as to what services and products they needed. It would have been simpler, believe me, to just continue making the same items we had for many years. You have to learn to plant in the spring, something your customers will buy come the fall harvest.

Take the pains now to make the required changes in your business plans and current competencies. For if you choose not to, be prepared to beg in the fall when your harvest does not come it. The pain of discipline weighs ounces and the pain of regret weighs tons. Making the changes may not be easy but I promise they will be worth the effort.

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