Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Twelve Pillars of Success

I'm often a little wary of success books, especially when they exude a "health, wealth and prosperity" mentality. Even so, some of them have some great practical points about life.

Over the past few weeks, I've been studying Twelve Pillars by Jim Rohn and Chris Widener. It's a book about a middle-aged man learning about the Twelve Pillars of Success from the caretaker of a large estate characterized by its twelve white pillars. Although there were points I can't say I totally agree with and I wouldn't put this forth as the ultimate model for success in life, I was inspired by many points and believe that it was written from a Christian perspective.

So what are these twelve pillars as outlined in this book?

1. Develop Yourself
2. Total Well-Being
3. The Gift of Relationships
4. Write Down Your Goals
5. The Proper Use of Time
6. Surround Yourself with the Best People
7. Be a Life-Long Learner
8. All of Life is Sales
9. Income Seldom Exceeds Personal Development
10. Communication
11. Leadership
12. Leave a Legacy

I won't expound on all of those, but just share some of my favourite points.

  • In order for us to succeed in life, we need to grow as individuals. If you want your circumstances in life to change, you first have to change as a person. As Christians, we can do this as we allow God to work in us and change us into His image.

  • On the issue of total well-being, three-dimensional health (body, soul, spirit) was explained and how we need to care for each one. If one part of our body suffers, the others suffer as well. It's all interconnected.

  • Relationships are God's most precious gift here one earth. Cultivating them often takes a good deal of effort and sometimes pain, but it's so worth it. "The greatest gift the Grand Designer gives is the gift of other people. Yes, relationships can be hard, but they are also what the joy of life is made of."

  • Time management is something I haven't mastered yet. I often find myself wasting so much precious time just thinking of all the things I have to do. I need to start thinking less and start doing more. We can endure the pain of discipline now, or deal with the pain of regret later.

  • Surrounding ourselves with the right people is so crucial, especially as Christians. The Bible speaks so much on this issue. In order to succeed in life, we need to spend time with those who share our values, goals and visions and will inspire and encourage us. "Go where the expectations and demands to perform are high." 1 Corinthians 15:33 says "Bad company ruins good morals." Surround yourself with godly people who desire to live above the mediocrity of this world.

  • Learning doesn't end when we finish school. It's something you have to do all your life. You can't escape it. What I appreciated was the book list included in this chapter, including some well-known Christian authors and titles. There's so much out there to learn, but make sure the knowledge is true and applied. Until you apply and live out what you know, it's useless.

Most of all though, what will be left of your life when it's over? Your life doesn't end when you die and leave this world. The seeds you have sown continue to grow and affect the next generation and maybe many more. Will you leave a legacy? What will people remember of you? It reminds me of the importance of living a life that counts, that will make an impact for eternity.

No, Twelve Pillars isn't my preferred road map for life. I'll sooner turn to the Bible and other trusted Christians for that. But sometimes it's good to have a practical reminder of the things that matter and this book did a good job of that. But if you like success books as much as I do, I understand.

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