Book Notes: An Overview of the Book on the Twelve Pillars
Twelve pillarsby Jim Rohn and Chris Widener is a short, easy-to-read story about a man named Michael Jones, who feels his life is at a dead end. He meets an older man named Charlie, who shares with Michael twelve “pillars” that have helped the owner of the home that Charlie maintains, Mr. Davis, achieve great success. The story is somewhat predictable (although I’m not going to tell you how, you have to read the book), but it effectively conveys each of the pillars. I presented these pillars to a group of college students a few months ago and I thought it would be nice to share them with you as well.
Pillar 1 is “Personal Development”. This pillar highlights that you can only reach the level you are at. The key points of this pillar are success when you develop beyond where you currently are; read books, attend seminars / conferences, study the best people; and implement and integrate what you have learned. These points remind me of the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To get different results, you must change what you are doing. “The only way things are going to change for you is when you change.”
Pillar 2 is “Total Wellness”, which is “three-dimensional health”. The three dimensions are the body (physical), the soul (our intellect, emotions and will) and the spirit (part of us that transcends this world). Spirit is your core, soul is the next layer, and body is the outer layer. You need to work on all three, not just work on one to the detriment of the others. The relationship between the three dimensions highlights the need to be transparent, sincere and genuine. Let people see you as you really are. “You have to make sure that your exterior is a good reflection of your interior.”
The third pillar is “The gift of relationships.” Relationships represent the “most beautiful moments” and the “most tormented moments” in life. Relationships are the backbone of our existence. Twelve pillars explains that relationships are like a garden, you have to cultivate them. Once you get them up and running, keeping them growing is much easier. “Time, effort and imagination must be constantly summoned for any relationship to continue to flourish and grow.” People say that money makes the world go round, but I believe that relationships are what makes the world go round because things are done through people.
Pillar 4 is “Achieve your goals.” I have heard and read many times that you should write down your goals. Writing them makes them come true. An added benefit of achieving your goals is that you become a better person. “The main reason for setting a goal is what you do of yourself to achieve it.” Something I learned from someone else is that plans will change, but your goals will remain the same. A good method to check your progress is “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust.”
“The proper use of time” is the fifth pillar. There are two types of pain, the pain of discipline, which weighs only ounces, and the pain of regret, which weighs tons. Do not postpone things, the end of your life will come sooner than you expect; don’t wait until it’s too late. Remember that when you spend a day, you have one less day to spend, so spend each day wisely. “Every day has many opportunities, but only one better opportunity.” The best opportunities are those that align with your overall goals. Know the difference between what is urgent and what is important.
“Surround yourself with the best people” is Pillar 6. “Don’t join an easy crowd, you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and demands for performance are high.” People have amazing power to influence your destiny. Every relationship you have is an association, be it positive, neutral, or negative. Ask yourself the following questions about your relationships. Who I am? What effect are they having on me? What do you have me reading? What do you have me saying? Where have you got me going? What have you got me thinking? What have they turned me into? Then ask yourself if you are good with answers. Categorize every person you meet. Is it someone with whom you should disengage, have a limited partnership, or should you expand your partnership? Surround yourself with winners, successful people who exhibit and live consistently with the values and skills you want to acquire and develop. You become like those you date, so be picky.
Pillar 7 is “Be a Lifelong Learner.” Most of his life passes after formal education. “Formal education will earn you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.” Self-education is about what you teach yourself and what you learn along the way so that you are constantly improving and growing. Learning is the beginning of wealth, health, and spirituality. Read books, observe successful people, reflect on your own experiences; learn what went well and what went wrong. Help others by sharing what you have learned. “Everything
Life is sales “is the eighth pillar. Sales means influence and influence is the key to a successful life; learn the art and skills of influencing.” A key to having influence with others is that others perceive you as a person with talent and virtues. “Your talents and virtues represent your character and ability. Be a person of strong character and increasing ability and your influence will always increase.
Pillar 9 is “Income rarely exceeds personal development.” Money does not solve life’s problems; you can lose it, be sued for it, or it can be stolen. The important thing is what you become because, “What you become directly influences what you get.” Become a million dollar person. Remember, even if you lose money, you have the skills to win it back.
“All communication brings the common ground of understanding” is Pillar 10. “Communication is two or more people working together to find the common ground of understanding. And when they find that common ground, they are positioned to have tremendous power together.” Communication is difficult, but important in all relationships. It’s about what you say, how you say it, when you say it, and who you say it to. Make sure you really listen. The character behind the listener cares enough and values the other person enough to want to listen. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Pillar 11 is “The world can always use one more great leader.” Anyone can be a great leader, all it takes is mastering the art of influence. Leaders make a difference through service. “Leading others is helping them improve their thoughts, beliefs, and actions.” Take an interest in people, not just what you can get out of them. Help people with more than their jobs, help them with their lives. A critical component is the leader-follower relationship, which must be based on trust and integrity. Great leaders are real, they know where they are. Great leaders have an optimistic vision, they know how to get to a better destination, and they work toward that vision. Another quote that I like that captures the essence of leadership is: “The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind but not weak; be bold but not a bully; be thoughtful but not lazy; be humble, but not shy; be proud, but not arrogant; be humorous, but not foolish. “
Finally, pillar 12 is “Leaving a legacy.” Life is short. You cannot choose how long you will live, but you can choose how well you will live. “Live a life that helps others spiritually, intellectually, physically, financially, and relationally. Live a life that serves as an example of what an exceptional life can be like.” The path we are traveling has been prepared for us by others who have gone before us. So live your life in such a way that it serves those who come after you. It opens a path that will allow others to move forward in their lives faster than if they had to blaze the path themselves.
As you can see, the twelve pillars are interdependent; you cannot focus on one and neglect the others. The bottom line is that you have a choice about your life, “make a living or design a life.” I hope you find value in these pillars and feel inspired to retake Twelve pillars and apply the pillars to your life and business.