The Rockefellian Keys to Success:
I recently read Ron Chernow’s excellent biography of John D. Rockefeller. He writes that if there was one overarching principle to Rockefeller’s success, it is contained within this maxim of his: “I would rather be my own tyrant than have someone else tyrannize me.”
Rockefeller’s life has many great lessons for us at LegalShield. His most striking quality was self-control, or what we might call self-discipline. He relentlessly improved his will power, training himself to be master of his emotions, desires, and schedule, so that he could direct all his energy towards achieving his goals. He set big goals for himself, and then attacked them with a disciplined, workaday ethic.
Rockefeller understood that if you wish to be your own boss, you have to learn how to boss yourself.
Here were his 6 keys to success:
1. Practice Relentless Persistence
a. He was born in a clapboard house in New York in 1839. His mother was a solid, religious woman, but his father, William Avery Rockefeller, was essentially a snake oil salesman. He was not a good student. But he was known by his friends and classmates as someone who worked hard at everything.
b. He prospected for a job when times were tough. But he found one and obtained a toehold in the world of business, and would use it as a springboard in making his improbable climb from lowly bookkeeper to corporate titan.
2. Cultivate Unassailable Poise and Reserve
a. He had a deep reserve.
b. He held others accountable
c. He adopted a different leadership style than the stereotypical corporate tycoon, cultivating a power that relied not on loud, blustering displays and belligerent table-pounding, but quiet authority. As a young man he had struggled with his temper, but he had trained himself to control it.
d. He was extremely composed in a crisis
3. Check Your Ego
a. “Only fools get swelled up over money.” –John D. Rockefeller
b. Rockefeller keenly understood the way that power and wealth could lead to hubris, and intentionally trained himself not to be guided by ego.
c. Membership in a faith community also aided him in keeping a level head.
4. To Get Wealthy, Have a Purpose Beyond Getting Wealthy
a. “I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake.” –John D. Rockefeller
b. At LegalShield, we call this our “why.” He said, “The man who starts out simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition.”
5. Pay Attention to the Details
a. When it came to appointments, he was religiously punctual. That sounds like our founder, Harland C. Stonecipher, who said, “If you cannot be on time, be early.”
b. He kept his own personal routine: allotting family, faith, and fortune, and sticking to that planned schedule down to the second.
c. In business deals, he always paid his debts and fulfilled his contracts on time.
6. Live Frugally (Even When You Don’t Have To)
a. In looking back on the factors that most shaped the trajectory of his success, Rockefeller believed that one of the most important was his decision to track all of his spending and saving.
b. Rockefeller kept up his thrifty habits throughout his life as well. He would save the paper and string from packages that arrived in the mail, wear out his suits until they had become almost threadbare, and go through the house at night turning off gas lamps that had been left on.
c. The Rockefellers were eager to pass on their frugal ways to their four children, who they understandably worried would grow up to be spoiled adults.
d. In a way, Rockefeller’s frugality wasn’t about money at all — but rather a way to exercise the muscle that had generated his success in the first place and continued to hold it all together: self-mastery.
My name is Jeff Bell, and I am just getting started!
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