Focus On Yourself: Jim Rohn Motivational Speech6 min read

Text of Jim Rohn’s motivational speech in which he talked about Focus On yourself


There is a great deal of difference in casual listening and serious listening. Listening to know, listening to learn, listening that opens up the whole mental and spiritual process is truly an investment in effort.

‘Bringing heavy attention to bear’ that takes effort. ‘A mental rifle shot to strike the idea target’ that takes a great deal of concentrated effort. However, this effort; high gear mental machinery is the effort investment that opens the flood gates, where ideas can work their magic for you in the marketplace.

Personal Development is truly the key to the good life. You see, what you become is far more important than what you get.

The most important question to ask on the job is not ‘what am I getting?’ The most important question is ‘what am I becoming?’ However, it is also true that what you become directly influences what you get. Most of what we have, we have attracted by the person we have become. 

So here’s the great challenge of life: You can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are. That is the great focus of attention for life change.

Now on the other side of the coin that reads, unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got. I’ve discovered that income does not usually exceed personal development. Sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but unless you keep growing out where it is, it will usually come back where you are.

Life has strange ways. A very rich man once said, if you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon I’ll be back in the same pockets.

I guess it is hard to keep what you haven’t attracted by your own personal development.

Personal development, how important?

Remember, the major key to your better future is you. That’s a sentence with a lot of value. I suggest you put it up somewhere for a while where you can see it every day. Just to remind you as you put your day together. I call it the silent seminar.

The major key to your better future is you. For a share of my life, I didn’t understand the importance of that phrase, among a lot of things I didn’t understand back in those early days. Back then, some things used to puzzle me.

I used to wonder why two people could work for the same company and one make twice as much money. Why would one person be paid $2000 a month and the other person $4000, if it was the same company, same product, same service, same training, same weather, same traffic. Maybe they were the same age and went to the same school. 

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Wouldn’t that be a puzzle? Why would one person do twice as well?

Speaking economically, I know there are many ways to do well, but in this narrow area called compensation, what is the difference. What is the difference between 2000 and 4000 a month, and I don’t mean 2000 I could figure that out.

Well, back then I tried to figure it out the best I could. I thought time makes some of the difference. Some people do better because they have more time. I used to say, “Harold ought 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 dumb, right? You can’t get someone else’s time.

A man once said to me, “if I had some extra time, I could make some extra money”.

I said, “Then you have to forget it.” 

There isn’t any more time. Where would you find any?

When the clock strikes 12 midnight, that’s about it. It’s over. There isn’t any more time. If you insist on finding more than 24 hours a day, they will come and take you away.

So if we can’t get more time, what could we get that would make the difference in economic results?

And the answer is VALUE. Value makes the difference. You can’t get more time, but you can become more valuable. So value makes a major difference in how much money you earn.

Now, here’s the primary lesson. In economics, we get paid for value. Bringing value to the marketplace is how we get paid. Whether you work on a job or whether you bring goods and services, we get paid for the value. Now, I know it takes time to bring value to the marketplace, but you don’t get paid for the time, you get paid for the value. 

Mistakenly the man says, “I’m getting $20 an hour”. And the correction is no, not for the hour. If that was true, you could just stay home and have them send you your money. No, you don’t get paid for an hour. You get paid for the value you put in an hour. An hour is simply a convenient way to measure the value.

So one of the important questions to ask is:

Is it possible to become twice as valuable and make twice as much money in the same time?

Could you become three times as valuable and make three times as much money in the same time?

And the answer is, of course, yes, you can become more valuable if, and it’s alwaysif’ right, and here’s the big if we are going to consider: It’s possible to earn two or three or more times as much money in the same amount of time if you go to work primarily on yourself.

 And that’s what we’re considering in this session- Learning to work primarily on ourselves.

Mr. Shoaff, put it to me this way. When I first met him he said, “Mr. Rohn, if you wish to be wealthy and happy, learn this lesson well.

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

When he said that, I suddenly understood why I was broke. I was a hard worker on my job. If anyone would have asked me at age 25, “Mr. Rohn, are you a hard worker?”

I would have said, “Yes, I’m a hard worker. Check my record”. And that was true. I was a hard worker, but see, that was my problem. I was working hard on my job, but I wasn’t working hard on myself and that was the main reason for my lack of progress.

See, it’s easy to get faked out. The man says, “I’ve got 10 years of experience. I don’t know why I’m not doing better.” What he doesn’t understand is that he probably has one year of experience repeated 10 times. He grew pretty well that first year and then he just did that first year, nine more times. He didn’t keep growing.

Some people look for more money, but they look forward in the wrong direction.

A man says, “I need more money. I’m going to go to work on my boss.’

Some say, “Hey, I found out bosses are notorious.” They don’t play fast and loose with the company till, I’ve never seen a boss get excited and triple somebody’s wages. They don’t behave in such an irrational manner, so that’s not it.

Some people say, “I’ll strike for more”. Well, the problem with that is once you start, you’ll always have to strike and I’ll tell you what you get by demand-  little-bitty pieces, barely enough, and now inflation beats that approach, right? 

Inflation will usually equal or exceed a small wage increase, especially after taxes. Forget the little increases that just let you get by. You can get by with a crust of bread and a pair of shoes, but we are  talking big success, not just getting by.

The guy in sales says, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll get me some of those sales books that teach the tricky sales. I’ll put it on my prospects, dazzling with my sales footwork. Grab their money before they know what’s happened.”

Well, you can try that, but my experience shows you wind up at the bottom of the economic ladder, not the top. It’s not what you get by tricks that counts. It’s not what you get by demand, It’s what you get by performance that count. And I found this out that performance comes from the inside, not outside.

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For the first part of my life I was looking for the answers outside, before I finally discovered they were inside. Success is not something you pursue. Success is something you develop.

People are often asking me, how do you develop an above-average income?

And the answer is to become an above-average person. Develop an above-average handshake. Some people want to be successful and they don’t even work on their handshake. As easy as that would be to get started on, they let it slide, they don’t understand.

Develop an above-average smile. Develop an above-average intelligence, develop an above-average interest in other people. Develop an above-average intensity to win. See, that will 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.

Mr. Shoaff one day gave me one of the most important statements of our entire association. I was giving him a rundown on how things hadn’t worked out for me and he said, “Mr. Rohn, I have an answer for you. If you will listen carefully.” And listen carefully, I did that day and for the next five years, if someone is wealthy and happy, you’ve got to listen.

He said, “Jim, I’ve only known you for a short time, but it is my honest opinion, for things to change for you. You’ve got to change.”

That was not quite the answer I was looking for, but that’s the one he gave me. And now I bring it to you after pondering it all these years- For things to change for you, you’ve got to change. No matter what successes you’ve already achieved, otherwise it isn’t going to change for you.

Before I met Mr. Shoaff, I used to say, “I sure hope things will change.” That seemed to be my only hope. If it wasn’t going to change, I was in serious trouble. Then I found out it wasn’t going to change and I was in serious trouble. 

– Jim Rohn