Twelve Pillars; book summary and notes

This is one of the very few “novels” that you will see Brian Willett read.  It isn’t a typical novel though, it is a story that we all have seen and heard, and maybe the story it tells could even be one of us.  The authors of the book are Jim Rohn and Chris Widener.  To learn more about Jim Rohn click on this link.   This man has had serious impact on my life and I never met him.  Chris Widener.

The story starts off with a guy who is forty years old, married to his wife of 15 years that he no longer is very connected with, and two kids who he barely sees.  And a boring job where he makes about 40K as a sales rep.  His car breaks down on his way to a sales meeting.  He didn’t have a phone so he walked to the closest house.  This house had a large brick and wrought iron fence stretched at least 500 feet along the roadside. And the gate was at least 10 feet high.  Behind the gate was a house that was well over 10,000 square feet.  It was white plantation style home that had twelve two-story pillars across the front which made sense since the sign at the side of the gate said “Twelve Pillars”.  He runs into an old man who was a bout 70 years old in some old overalls.  The man asked if he could help him.

The man takes him to this garage and they start talking.  The old man pretends that he doesn’t own the home, which you find out later in the story that he does.  Instead he tells the young sales guy that he is the yard guy for the very wealthy man who owns the big house.  They start a relationship where the sales rep comes by and meets with the old man for months and each week that he comes back to meet with the old guy the old man teaches the sales guy a principle of the twelve pillars.  So it is a story with a powerful message weaved in.

Pillar #1:   The only way things are going to change for you is when you change. 

A lot of people think working hard is the key to success, and it is, but it is only one piece of the success puzzle.  For you to get a better job, with more money, and more opportunity, you must increase your skill set.  Which requires you to change your thoughts, your actions, and what you do everyday.

The conversations between the two of them are deep and every sentence has a pearl of wisdom.

Pillar #2:  You should make sure that the outside of you is a good reflection of the inside of you. 

Pillar number two is total well-being.  The body is made up of three parts: the body, soul, and the spirit.  You have to give equal attention to all three to have a healthy overall well-being.

Pillar #3:  Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationships flourishing and growing.

The old man asks the sales guy to tell him about his family.  He tells him about his struggles to find the time to spend with his family and that his relationship with his wife could be better. The message is that we must cultivate any and all relationship that is important to us.  Just like a garden it requires constant upkeep to keep the weeds out.  If you don’t weed for a few weeks, what happens to a garden? It doesn’t take much time and the weeds will take over.  It is no different for our relationships with our family, friends, and colleagues.  Maintenance of a garden is easier than starting all over again.

Pillar #4:  The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it.

Goal setting is deciding where you want to go and then designing a plan to get you there.    Setting goals that stretch you and make you do things differently is what will lead you to a future that you want.  Don’t wait for people to set goals for you.

Pillar #5:  Everyday has many opportunities, but only one best opportunity.

We all must suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.  The difference is that discipline weighs ounces and regret weights tons.  Your best opportunity each day are those that align with your overall goals and should be what you spend your time on. Don’t just go through the day, get from the day. Don’t spend you time on urgent, spend your time on what is important. We must be our own designer of our lives.

Pillar #6:  Don’t join an easy crowd; you wont grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.

Ask yourself these questions:  Who am I around?  What effect are they having on me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most importantly, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the final question: is that okay?

Friends of convenience.  This is an interesting concept.  Is it easier to keep certain people for friends, instead of pursuing new friends. Successful people look for relationships with other successful people who will push them, challenge them, and encourage them to become better. To attract attractive people, you must be attractive.  Not physically but mentally and who you are.

Your attitude is greatly influenced by the people who you associate with.

Pillar #7:  Formal education will make you a living.  Self education will make you a fortune.

Self-education is what you teach yourself.  It is what you learn along the way so that you are constantly improving and growing. Most people don’t continue to learn and grow, to separate yourself from everyone else, be focused on continuous learning.

Learning is the beginning of wealth.  Learning is the beginning of health.  Learning is the beginning of spirituality.  Searching and learning are where the miracle process all begins. Most of life is lived after your formal education. That means the rest of it is up to you.

You have to read the books.  Books are and will continue to be the best learning tools of mankind.

Pillar #8:  One key to having influence with others is to have others perceive you as a person of talent and virtue.

All of life is sales.  Sales is really just the application of having influence and that is a skill that we must all possess in life to get the things we want and desire.   Talent and virtue are the foundation of successful influence and sales, whether you are selling a product or selling yourself–and a successful person is always selling him or herself.

Skills of sales:

  • Know your stuff. You can’t teach what you don’t know.  You cannot share that which you do not feel. You cannot translate that which you do not have. You cannot give that which you do not possess.
  • Talk to lots of people. 
  • Never take no for an answer. 

Pillar #9: What you become directly influences what you get.

The skills you develop to become a millionaire is more important the than money itself.  Money can always go away.  You can lose it.  You can get sued, inflation can eat it away.  It can be stolen.  Every year you hear of what were once millionaires and multimillionaires having to file for bankruptcy, going from hundreds of millions of dollars to nothing.  However, many of them can come back from these things because of the skills they learned to accumulate such wealth.  The skills can never be taken away.

Income seldom exceeds personal development.  Th increase your paycheck, you must increase your skills.

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.

Success is based on human relationships and communication is the foundation for people working together. A lot of people spend their time communicating to convince the other person to their way of thinking, instead look for areas that you agree on, and then build from that. Look for common ground. It isn’t just what you say, it is how you say it, when you say it, and the receptiveness of who you say it to. And that is only half of it.  The other half of it is making sure you really listen.

Pillar #11:  To lead others is to help them change their thoughts, beliefs, and actions for the better.

Leadership is a misunderstood concept.  Most people when they hear the term “great leader” think of people who lead nations, corporations, or social movements.  Leadership means you have mastered the art of influencing others. To lead others is to help them change their thoughts, beliefs, and actions for the better. Sales and Leadership are similar because they are both the art of influencing others.

Managers help people see themselves as they are, and leaders help them see themselves better than they are. If you want to get paid more, bring more value to others by becoming a better leader. Leaders talk about what could be. Learn to help people with more than just their job, help them with their lives. Great leaders are interested in people.

During this book each week and each meeting that the sales guy has with the old man he teaches him the twelve pillars and the methodology around it.  All the while referring to a guy who owned the house.  When the sales guy goes to meet with him to learn the twelfth pillar, he gets there and finds out that the old man had died.  He learns this from the old mans wife, and this is when he learns that he (the old man) was the wealthy guy that owned the house and came up with the twelve pillars.  The final pillar, number twelve is given to the sales guy by the old mans wife in a letter from the old man. Leaving a legacy.  In the letter the old man talks about the growth and development of the sales guy he has witnessed and that is when he reached the final pillar on legacy.

Pillar #12:  Live a life that will help others spiritually, intellectually, physically, financially, and relationally. Live a life that serves as an example of what an exceptional life can look like.

You cannot choose how long you will live, but you can choose how well you live. You can also help others along the way and when you help others that is when you will build a legacy.  Helping others and giving to others is what life is really about and when you are dead and gone, be remembered for what you did for others and not what you have.

This book was an easy read.  It is a such a great story and it is one that we can all relate to.  I hit on many of the highlights that I saw as very valuable throughout the book, but the book is full of some of the greatest success principles you anyone can learn.

Please share this book summary with someone who you think could you use it.  Also read the book.

To your success and your future.


Two great questions to ask yourself

I will never forget the day my mentor Jim Rohn asked me these two questions some three years ago.  He said it like this “The question to ask yourself is not what am I getting, the question to ask yourself is what am I becoming.”   

Two very powerful questions to ask your self.  How do you apply these questions:

What are you getting in your current relationships?  Are you getting what you need? Are you giving what the other person needs?  Then say: What am I becoming?  Is this relationship what I want.  Is it making me and us (since it is a relationship) what we want it to be, and taking us where we want to go.

On your job ask yourself the same questions.  What am I getting.  Is it a paycheck, is it security, is it fulfillment, etc.  Then again ask yourself “What am I becoming”.  Are you becoming what you want to become.

As human beings we tend to think about ourselves first, right?  Lets assume you said yes. So we do a pros and cons list and say, I am getting this, this ,this, this, this, this, this.  That is pretty good.  We can rationalize and justify that it is worth it.  But what if we ask ourselves the harder question and say, REALLY.  What am I becoming?

I have talked to many people over the years and when they make a decision to change it is usually because they didn’t like the person they were becoming.  This takes a self-awareness that is really objective.  I have talked to parents who have left jobs because they didn’t get a chance to spend time with their children.  So they were not the parents that they wanted to be. They were not happy with who they were becoming.

I have spoken with people in relationships that for the most part were getting everything they wanted out of the relationship, or what they thought they wanted.  But then they looked up one day and said “What have I become”.  I don’t like this person.  This is not where I expected to be.  I have talked to people who were athletic and active and got into relationships that were exactly the opposite.  They would usually justify and say that the relationship was great and that they love each other, but all the while they were unhappy that they were no longer as active in sports.  So they didn’t like the person they were becoming.

So let me add a third question for you.  What am I getting, What am I becoming, and the third question to ask yourself “Is this acceptable”, “Is this what I want”.

Do an assessment.  Think about all of your current relationships, your job, your friends, your colleagues, etc.  You become what you are around, you become what you are exposed to the most.  Ask your self the two questions and then the final question, “Are you good with what that is?”  The good thing about being human who can think and make decisions, is you have the ability to change your current situation and become anything you want to become.

Brian Willett


How Much and How Many?

About three years ago, I was listening to some guy who later became one of the most influential mentors I have had in my life.  I have never met him, I can’t, because he died about two years before I had ever even knew of him. Since then, I have read everything (I think) he ever wrote during his lifetime, I have listened to almost everything he has ever created on video or audio.  Jim Rohn forever changed my philosophy. This morning I am reading his book again just because I know there is one more idea in there that could change my life, my family, and my legacy forever.  If you seek, you will find.  Very rarely does a good idea just hit you, you must seek it out.

When I listened to him that first time he asked this simple question in several different ways, that changed my thinking forever.  It probably sounds more powerful in audio.

  • How many homes can you own?
  • How much money can you make?
  • How many books can you read?
  • How many places can you visit?
  • How generous can you be to others?
  • How many businesses can you own? 

The answer to all of these questions is the same.  As many as you want and as much as you want.  We live in America and this is true in America.  You can do just about whatever you want, it’s up to you.

Pretty simple questions and pretty simple answers. The question for you is what are you going to do with the information?  That is the question I ask myself everyday.

Brian Willett



The Law of Diminishing Intent

This truly is a law.  It’s a law because it is true and without a doubt I have, and many of you have all broken this law many times in our life.

What does the law mean:  We have all had that moment when we get really excited about something, maybe it is dieting, getting out of debt, planning our day more effectively, redoing the kitchen, painting the bedroom, etc.  You name it.  At that moment we get excited about doing the “thing” but we don’t take any action to get the ball rolling on doing it.  So for every second, minute, hour, day, week, month that goes by, we lose that passion and excitement about accomplishing what we were so excited about accomplishing.

I can remember learning this lesson years ago.  It was around November or so, and I was telling a friend of mine that I was planning on starting to workout after the New Year.  Sound familiar?  He replied back “Why wait, why not start now, what is the difference between now and then?”  He was right.  I learned the Law of Diminishing intent almost 16 years ago.  He didn’t call it the law of diminishing intent, but that’s what it was.  I started that day.  Guess what?  It is a discipline that I practice still to this day.  My mentor Jim Rohn says it like this:  “The pain of discipline weighs ounces and the pain of regret weighs tons.”

The key is to set up the discipline while the emotion is at its highest.  Go buy the paint, clean the refrigerator out of all of the snacks, cut up your credit cards, go outside and run a mile or walk.  The goal here is to start down the path of setting up some disciplines in your life, some activities, that can then turn into habits that will allow you to accomplish the activity or goal that you are so excited about at that time.

Is there something in your life right now that you are excited about?  What are you doing to set the disciplines and activities in motion to ensure you keep the energy and actions moving forward? Please share with me, I would love to hear them.

Brian Willett


The Goal Setting plan that changed my life

This one little exercise allowed me to set goals that I would have never even considered, thanks to my mentor Jim Rohn. And guess what!!! I have accomplished a lot of the little ones already.

Here is your challenge today.  Write down 50-100 things that you want.  ALERT:  WHAT YOU WANT, not what you think you can get.


  • I want a lake house that is paid for.
  • I want a promotion to….
  • Pay off my car
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Be Vice President of Sales
  • Make $100,000 dollars a year
  • Have X amount of money in my childs college fund
  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Have 5 paid for rental properties
  • Complete my Masters degree
  • Go on a cruise

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start.  Now take your list and put a 1, 3, 5, 10 next to it.  These numbers represent how long you think it will take to accomplish these goals.  Be realistic with your self, but also put a number next to it that will stretch you some.


  • I want a lake house that is paid for.  (10)
  • I want a promotion to…. (3)
  • Pay off my car (1)
  • Pay off my student loans (1)
  • Be Vice President of Sales (5)
  • Make $100,000 dollars a year (3)
  • Have X amount of money in my childs college fund (5)
  • Lose 20 pounds (1)
  • Have 5 paid for rental properties (5)
  • Complete my Masters degree (3)
  • Take a cruise (1)

Does this make sense to you?  Again I reiterate write down things you want, NOT what you think you can get.  The purpose of this is to expand your thinking, I WANT YOU TO THINK BIG here.  What will happen if you come up a little short?  NOT much.  You will accomplish something.  80% of something is better than 0% of nothing.

Also, use numbers that you think make sense to you.  I used the 1,3,5,10.  But maybe you want to use 6 months, 1 year, 3 year.  However, I challenge you think longterm. Many studies show that the ability to think longterm is a path to success.

Now that you have these goals established, what do you do?  If you are interested in the next step, email me and I will send you the next steps in the process.