In chapter 2 of his “How to Have Your Best Year Ever!” seminar, Jim Rohn talks about how life is like the seasons. There will always be winters, which are followed by springs, and after that summer, and fall, and so the cycle continues on and on through history.

We must learn to handle the winter, take advantage during the spring, nourish and defend ourselves during the summers, and accept the fall. Jim calls this the four major lessons in life to learn.

[Full transcript: 01:38:24-01:56:21]

Four Major Lessons in Life to Learn

01:38:24: Now let me give you another scenario on personal development.

It’s called the four major lessons in life to learn.

Before we get to the four major lessons in life to learn, let me give you a key phrase for your notes, here it is: Life and business is like the seasons.

Life and business is like the seasons.

Frank Sinatra sings, “Life is like the seasons…” [“Cycles” by Frank Sinatra]

Now here’s one of the key phrases that changed my life, starting at age 25, you can see this whole scenario—personal development—for me began, I’ve never been the same since.

Here’s the next key phrase: You cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself.

Can’t change the seasons, but you can change yourself.

My best hope, right? When I’m 25 years old, my best hope was to go through the day with my fingers crossed, saying I sure hope things will change.

I sure hope things will change, it seemed to be my only way for my life to get better if things would change.

Here’s what I’ve discovered, it isn’t gonna change.

It isn’t gonna change.

I did a seminar one time for Standard Oil executives and management in Honolulu, now known as Chevron.

And we’re talking economics one day around the conference table, and one of them said to me, “Mr. Rohn, you know some fairly important people around the world, you have a chance to travel internationally, can you tell us what you think the 80s are going to be like?”

Now, you can tell how far back this goes.

Said, “What do you think the 80s are going to be like?”

And I thought for a moment and I said, “Gentlemen, I do know the right people, and I do have some experience I think I can tell you.”

So they all leaned in a little closer, and I said, “Gentlemen, based on the people I know and based on the best of my own experience, I think in the 80s it’s going to be about like it’s always been.”

Aren’t you glad you came today? I mean, that’s inside stuff. I don’t just spread that around everywhere.

It’s gonna be about like it’s always been, it isn’t gonna change.

To hope that it’ll change is called whistling in the wind. Being so naive, hoping for something that isn’t going to occur.

I can give you the shortest history lesson that you can imagine in one sentence.

What describes human history on the spinning planet the last six and a half thousand years?

Let me describe it for you in one sentence. Here’s human history in one sentence: Opportunity mixed with difficulty.

That’s about as simple as you can put it. An opportunity mixed with difficulty, isn’t going to change.

The man says, “Well, if it isn’t going to change for the future, if it isn’t going to change in the 90s, how will my life ever change?”

Answer? When you change.

And if you will change, everything will change for you, your bank account will change, your income will change, your future will change, the ability to acquire your dreams will change. It’ll all change, if you will change.

How to Handle the Winters

01:41:33: And now let’s go through the scenario of the seasons.

Life and business is like the seasons. Let’s cover them.

Here’s number one—major lesson in life to learn—learn how to handle the winters.

You say, “Well, Mr. Rohn, a lot of this stuff is fairly obvious.”

That’s true.

Just need somebody like me, just to come along and remind us, this is what this is called today, a reminding session.

I’ve got no new truth for you to discover, this is all old stuff. We just need to hear it again. Somebody get on our case a little bit, right? We all need that.

Here’s number one lesson: Learn how to handle the winters.

That’s obvious, the winter comes right after every fall, and pray tell how often? Every year according to written history for the last six and a half thousand.

To cross your fingers and say, “I hope, I hope, I hope, it doesn’t come.”

I’m telling you, we call that naive!

Now there’s all kinds of winters, not just the winter of the season, but there’s all kinds of winters.

Winter time, the down time, the discouraging time. One writer called it, “the winter of discontent.”

The winter when you can’t figure it out, the winter when it all goes wrong.

Economic winters, social winters, political winters, and personal winters.

When your heart is smashed in a thousand pieces, the nights are unusually long.

It’s called winter time.

Barbra Streisand sings, “It used to be so natural, to talk about forever, but ‘used to be’s’ don’t count anymore. They just lay on the floor, ’til we sweep them away. You don’t sing me love songs. You don’t say you need me. And you don’t bring me flowers anymore.” [“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand]

A song of winter.

But hey, we’re acquainted with all those winters scenarios, we’ve been through them all.

Now the question is what do you do about the winters?

Well, you can’t get rid of January by tearing it off the calendar.

But, here’s what you can do with the upcoming winters of your life—the long ones, the short ones, the easy ones, the more difficult ones. Here’s what you can do. Get wiser and stronger and better.

Just make a list of that trio—of good words—wiser, stronger and better.

To challenge for yourself the upcoming winters of your life, don’t you think you could read more?

Pick up the scenario, pick up the books, pick up the cassettes, that’s why I put some stuff on cassettes, so you can listen to it, put it in books, so you can read it. Now putting it on video so you can see it.

I’m telling you, anybody that wants to can get wiser.

Next is stronger. Anybody can get stronger. If you’re willing to do the push ups, you can get stronger. If you’re willing to put yourself through the paces, you can get stronger. Can you develop stronger skills?

And the answer is yes—start practicing, practicing, practicing.

And you can get stronger. Can you get stronger in handling life situations? Of course.

But you’ve got to go to work on yourself. You can’t blame out there, wishing it was easier, wish you were stronger.

And here’s the last one, get better. Anybody can get better.

Language, we can all get better. I’ve been lecturing now for 33 years, and I’m telling you, today versus 33 years ago, I’m better!

First time I gave a talk I stood up, my mind sat back down. I mean, you know I’ve been through that whole deal.

Open my mouth, nothing came out for a while. My knees are banging together. The sweats pouring off my face. I’m shaking like a leaf.

It’s called terror, in case you haven’t tried it. Those first attempts. But I’m telling you, I got through it.

And I did it again, and I got through it, and I did it again, and I got through it. Now, of course, I can lecture for a few hours in one day.

Anybody can get better, develop the skills.


Handle the upcoming winters, don’t wish away the winters, that’s called naive. Wish for the skills, wish for the strength, wish for the wisdom.

Take Advantage of the Spring

01:45:35: Here’s the second major lesson in life to learn: Learn how to take advantage of the spring.

Uniquely enough, spring follows winter.

And pray tell how often?

Six and a half thousand times—I mean, those are good odds, I’d gamble on it one more time, I mean, those are good odds, every time, you can’t beat those odds.

Spring is called opportunity.

Another day is called opportunity.

Days follow nights, how about that. And how often? Every day.

But now, here’s what new you must learn to do with opportunity, underline two strategic words in that sentence: take advantage.

Just because spring comes is no sign you’re going to look good in the fall.

You’ve got to take advantage of it, you’ve got to do something with it.

Read every book you can on what to do with your springs, what to do with your opportunities, what to do with your days, what to do with your chances.

Don’t miss the educational process. Don’t miss the process of learning to understand opportunity keeps coming, but the key is taking advantage—taking advantage.

Everybody in this room has got to learn to do one of two things, plant in the spring or beg in the fall.

And it doesn’t mean you can’t become a sophisticated beggar, but you don’t need the reputation.

Learn to plant in the spring—take advantage.

And there’s an urgency here on spring time because there’s just a few springs—handful of springs offered to each of us.

So take advantage swiftly and quickly. Don’t just let the time pass.

The Beatles wrote, “Life is very short.”

And for John Lennon it was extra short, for Michael Landon it was extra short. But life is short at the longest, it’s short. So don’t just let the springs pass, pass, pass.

Take advantage. Seize the day. Seize the moment, seize the opportunity. That’s the key.

Spring time.

Life is fragile. Life is brief.

Elton John sings, “She lived her life like a candle in the wind.”

It’s fragile, it’s brief, whatever you’re gonna do, you’ve got to get at it. Don’t just let it pass away.

Nourish and Protect During the Summer

01:48:09: Here’s major lesson number three: In the summer, learn how to nourish and protect.

We’ve got two challenges in the summer, in the personal development part of our life, and that is become capable, and powerful enough in the summer, and wise enough in the summer to nourish what’s good and defend yourself against what’s bad.

Nourish and defend.

The summertime is an interesting time. It holds the possibility of the promise of harvest time, but it also has the possibility of the threat.

Sure enough as soon as you planted your garden, the busy bugs and the noxious weeds are out to take it.

Let me give you another word of advice: They will take it, unless you prevent it.

Summertime is an interesting time. Best as I can describe summertime, you’ve got to nourish your values like a mother, nourish like a mother.

Go after the threat to the values you’ve got like a father.

Deal with the weeds, kill the weeds, nourish the garden, and kill the weeds. That’s called summertime. What a challenging time. Give life like a mother, take life like a father.


You’ve got to deal with the negative, as well as the positive.

Summertime is a unique, complex mix of positive and negative, opportunity and threat. What a scenario of life itself, opportunity and threat to the opportunity.

And you’ve got to deal with both! You’ve got to think positive, and you’ve got to think negative. You’ve got to handle what’s ever out to threaten you, you’ve got to learn to threaten it back.

Summertime, interesting time. Nourish like a mother, defend like a father.

You’ve got to be like your bloodstream in the summer, red corpuscles to what? To nourish! White corpuscles to what? To fight!

You’ve got to both nourish and fight, you’ve got to nourish and be vigilant.

White corpuscles think negative, you can’t just think positive, we’d call you naive.

Someone says, “Well, I’ve been taught to be all positive.”

You’d be some kind of freak—can’t be all positive.

Thank God for white corpuscles to think negative all day.

Guess what white corpuscles are looking for all day? Problems—infection!

White corpuscles say, “Just show me some infection, I’ll kill it!”

Why? It’s out to kill the body. It’s out to kill our chances. It’s out to kill our future.

Whatever threatens us, we threaten.

I’m asking you to take sword to your enemies. Whatever is out to threaten you—threaten your health—you’ve got to threaten it back like white corpuscles.

Kill what’s evil. Nourish what’s good. Love like a mother. Hate like a father.

Father says, to whatever threatens his family, “Take two or three more steps toward this family, and threaten my family, you’ll cease to exist. I’m father, I kill.”

Don’t let the weeds take your garden—wreck your chances for a good harvest—deal with your enemies in the summer.

Called good and evil—the great struggle in life is called good and evil, tyranny and liberty, sickness and health.

It’s the way life is, tyranny threatens liberty—takes over Kuwait—can’t have that.

If tyranny takes Kuwait, it’ll take Saudi Arabia, if it takes Saudi Arabia, it will take something else.

Where are we going to stop tyranny? As soon as possible!

Lest it take the whole world value.

So, George Bush draws a line in the sand, consults with his allies, sends a half a million troops to Saudi Arabia. Finally, Desert Sword—Desert Storm—takes on Saddam Hussein. Drives him out of Kuwait. Why? Because it has to be done, the great struggle between liberty and tyranny, the great struggle between evil and good.

And you’ve got to treat your own life the same. Say to Saddam Hussein, “You can’t have Kuwait, you can’t have Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, we’re gonna kick you out.”

Hires chief white corpuscle, General Schwarzkopf.

Takes care of the matter.

I’m asking you in the summer, nourish like a mother, threaten whatever threatens you like a father.

Now you can also turn around the scenario, that’s true. Love Like a father, hate like a mother.

Five life like a father. Take life like a mother. You can turn the scenario around.

The key is both love and hate.

Single parents have got the greatest challenge. Love like a mother, hate like a father. Love like a father, hate like a mother.

Nothing more dangerous than an angry mother.

Beware the female species of the animal, they call her black widow spider.

Why? Because when she finishes, there is no male spider.

I saw this article, I was flying on an airplane up in Canada, I saw this article in one of the airplane magazines, showed a picture of this guy with his shirt off, these claw marks down his back, teeth marks in his neck. The guy almost got killed.

He was out in the woods, saw a mama bear with her little cub, said “Oh, this looks cute!”

He had his flash camera went flash, flash, took a picture—mama bear treats it unkindly. Promptly chases him, caught him, almost killed him before they got to him. Beware of mama bear.

So love like a father, hate like a mother.

However you want to treat this scenario—it’s very important—it’s called summertime.

Part of the personal development challenge, is to be challenged to learn to nourish all of your values from a garden, to a family relationship, to a love affair, to a marriage, to a business—anything that’s valuable to you—call it equity, you’ve got to nourish it, you’ve got to feed it, you’ve got to take care of it.

But you’ve also got to defend it. It’s called the way things are—key, in the summer.

Harvest in the Fall, Without Complaint

01:55:11: Now, here’s number four. Major lesson in life to learn: In the fall, in the harvest, learn to reap in the harvest, without complaint.

Important part of personal development, reap in the harvest without complaint.

Take full responsibility.

Once you’ve learned the scenario—it’s not the seed, it’s not the soil, it’s not the sunshine, it’s not the rain, it’s not the miracle of the giving of life, it’s not the seasons that’s to be criticized—we must take personal responsibility.

So, in the harvest, take personal responsibility, it’s your crop! Whatever you’ve reaped, it’s your crop, take responsibility, no complaint.

And here’s the next one: No apology.

The best of human maturity is no apology if you’ve done well, and no complaint if you haven’t.

Knowing that that’s where the answers lie—within, and then without, in the miracle of the possibilities that we have to work with.

Those are the four major lessons in life to learn.

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