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  • Bob Burg

“A no-nonsense approach to building your business through relationships.”

~ Jane Applegate, syndicated Los Angeles Times columnist

One of Those Huge Life Difference-Makers

June 25th, 2012 by Bob Burg

Jim RohnThere are certain wise teachings, learned over the years, that have stayed with me and added significantly to my life. They’ve also provided me with hope and strength when most needed.

Just one example is Jim Rohn’s (1930-2009) famous, “They just do” and his follow-up phrase, “it’s one of the mysteries of life.” This comes in very handy when upset over the negative actions of certain people. For example, you find out someone with whom you’ve done a business transaction lied to you. You are understandably very upset and even begin personalizing it.

You might even ask yourself, “why did he do that to me?” This typically leads to the big question…”why do people like him lie?”

Mr. Rohn’s answer was, “they just do.” “He’s a liar. Liars lie. He’s simply doing what liars do.” He would then add, “it’s one of the mysteries of life.” This also led me to embrace the saying, “It is what it is.”

Reframing a situation from something personal — or something you must analytically figure out — to “they just do” and “it’s one of the mysteries of life” can save a ton ofΒ  heartache, self-doubt, and mental torture that will lead to nowhere productive.

Please don’t confuse this with not taking action to protect yourself from people who do bad things or, if/when appropriate, rectifying the situation after it’s happened. Not at all.

However, the major lesson I received from Mr. Rohn in this example is to not let certain mysteries of life drive me insane trying to find a reason for something that is beyond my comprehension.

Again, please don’t confuse that with not trying to understand people, Universal Laws and other vitally important concepts. An important part of life, personal growth, and wisdom is indeed trying to understand as much as possible. But, there’s a certain point where attempting to understand something we cannot reasonably expect to understand crosses over the line into driving ourselves bananas.

For those human beings such as I who β€” by our very nature β€” can drive ourselves crazy by doing exactly that (and, admittedly, used to do so), Mr. Rohn’s sage advice can be a huge difference-maker, both in terms of personal effectiveness and peace of mind.

That’s just one of the many lesson’s I’ve learned from very wise people that has made a significant difference for me. I’ll share some others in future posts.

Meanwhile, what are some of the wise lessons you’ve learned that have made that kind of difference for you?

49 Responses to “One of Those Huge Life Difference-Makers”
  1. Linda Ryan said at 8:18 am on

    Great post, as always Bob. One of the best lessons I’ve learned that helps me with similar situations is to tell myself these 2 things:
    1. I don’t know the whole story~ meaning there could be more than meets the eye and while lying is never “acceptable,” the other person could have reasons for doing so, which I don’t know about or understand.
    2. They’re doing the best they can~ this always helps me shift from an angry attitude to a compassionate one. If their “best” involves lying, I can’t help but feel compassionate. It doesn’t make it OK, it just helps me to process it for myself.
    Love starting the week reading your blog~ HAPPY MONDAY! πŸ™‚

  2. Kumar Gauraw said at 8:25 am on


    “Liars Lie – don’t give them a place to sit in your heart.”, my mother always says and actually, she practices! That doesn’t mean she doesn’t do what is appropriate, but she just moves on. It has been one of the hardest things for me to follow and I am still working on it.

    But thank you for this early morning reminder. Appreciate you taking time to share such a wonderful thought first thing in morning.


  3. Since I don’t believe in coincidence, I’ll simply say thank you for this perfectly timed blog post. A dear friend is going to receive it this morning with the hope that she’ll perhaps get some clarity about a relationship she struggles with.

    This also goes to two of The Four Agreements…Don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions.

    Have a Peaceful day, my friend.

  4. Bob Burg said at 8:31 am on

    Linda: Thank you for your comments. Appreciated!

    Kumar: A wise Mom, indeed. Thank you for sharing her wisdom with us. And, I know what you mean about continuing to work on it. Absolutely so in my case, as well.

  5. Bob Burg said at 8:35 am on

    Susan: Thank you. I hope your friend find’s Mr. Rohn’s suggestions to be as helpful as I did. And, yes, I also thought of Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Four Agreements.” I love how wisdom comes in so many different forms; sometimes from different angles, and capturing a similar point with a powerful message. Thanks again! And, peaceful day to you as well, my friend!

  6. John Griffin said at 8:47 am on

    I love your conclusion – thank you for sharing!
    “However, the major lesson I received from Mr. Rohn in this example is to not let certain mysteries of life drive me insane trying to find a reason for something that is beyond my comprehension.”

    It’s not really about us at all – it’s about them. People do things because that’s just who they are at that point in time.
    Always appreciate your insights!

  7. Bob Burg said at 8:50 am on

    John: Thank you for sharing. Indeed, that is true. One of the greatest teachings/explanations of that point was in Don Miguel Ruiz’, “The Four Agreements.” Can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read the his agreements, “Don’t Assume” and “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Yes, much more often than not, in these situation, it is about them, not about us. πŸ™‚

  8. My friends now quote me “As Beth says, it is what it is”. I must have picked this up from Rohn a few years ago. Wise words indeed. Something another wise friend has taught me is that people do what people do, and we can trust that they teach us who they are if we are willing to pay attention. Can you trust a liar? Yes, you can trust them to lie to you. And if someone lies to someone else, they will, eventually, lie to you as well. Tough lessons, but good ones!! Thanks Bob!

  9. Bob Burg said at 9:11 am on

    Beth: Wow, great wisdom you have shared with us, my friend. Thank you!

  10. I would love to hear feedback about “Liars’ contributions to humanity/society.”

  11. Nadia said at 9:51 am on

    Bob, like you, it can drive me insane when people don’t follow up on what they have promised or committed too. And like you, I have to remind myself that it’s a waste of time to try to understand why they do it and fulminate about it. I’ve had the privilege to listen to and meet Jim Rohn on many occasions. That little sentence of him “it’s one of the mysteries of life” has been one of the most difficult ones to implement in my life. And, on a regular basis, I remind myself that I cannot know everything. People might have reasons to do or not to do things I consider as reasonable. But then, why did they commit to do it? And from there, I have drawn two lessons:
    1. did I do my home work properly before I asked them to commit to something? Did I corner them in any way?
    2. If I mull over it and allows it to drive me insane, who is “insaner”? Me or the person who did not follow through?
    Looking forward to reading the other posts about the wisdom you gained… πŸ™‚

  12. d said at 9:56 am on

    If you don’t do something nothing gets done.

  13. Thank you Bob, as always, for the wise reminder!

    I’ve mentioned here before that one of my most important philosophies is to remember that “Everyone is dealing with something.” Even lying, cheating, stealing or doing other bad things is their way of getting what they want or dealing with a situation that they are in. That really helps me put their stuff in perspective.

    And then there’s the very important point that Linda Ryan makes – that doesn’t make it ok! Or a reason for us to act badly in return. But wow is it hard to put into practice and to let it go. I work on this all the time.

  14. Bob Burg said at 9:59 am on

    Nadia: Thank you for your comments. Here is an interesting point though that I think is worth pointing out. When I used the example of someone lying, I wasn’t referring to their not following up. I had another type of lying in mind. Which, just goes to show how we all interpret things based on ourselves and how we see things. Nothing positive or negative about that; just found it illuminating. And, I’m sure that 10 other people interpreting the term “lying” in 10 other different ways. I enjoyed reading your comments and your two lessons that you shared. Thank you!

  15. Bob Burg said at 10:00 am on

    Beth: Great points, as always, my friend! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Bob Burg said at 10:26 am on

    Ali: I guess they unwittingly serve as an example of what “not” to do (another lesson from Jim Rohn – “from some we learn what to do and from others we learn what not to do”). And, they also help us to learn and grow by being able to reframe, such as the main lesson we learned from Mr. Rohn in today’s post. Thanks for your feedback, as always!

  17. Sherry Christie said at 11:30 am on

    Bob, so many people look up to you and respect what you have to say (including me), that it’s startling to find any grammar errors in your writing. Specifically, plurals don’t have apostrophes. In this post, for example, you wrote:

    Mr. Rohn’s answer was, β€œthey just do.” β€œHe’s a liar. Liar’s lie. He’s simply doing what liar’s do.”

    This error has become more common lately (possibly Mr. Rohn has succumbed to it, too). But it’s particularly important for thought leaders to write as wisely as they think. Wouldn’t you agree?

  18. Samantha Hall said at 11:42 am on

    One of the most life-changing teachings I’ve learned along these lines is from The Four Agreements. Don’t take anything personally. I know you’ve read this book as well because you mentioned it in another post! (The one on beliefs, I think it was)

    And as simple as it may seem, not taking anything personally can still be a challenge at times. It certainly has helped with the more general every day things that might have grabbed my attention in the past. Yet, it can still prove to be a challenge depending on the dynamics of a relationship. However, it doesn’t take that long to remember to not take things personally. Then refocus on what I need to do to take care of myself in the situation.

    Still learning! πŸ™‚

  19. Bob Burg said at 12:00 pm on

    Sherry: Believe it or not, I read, re-read, and re-read my posts again before sending them out. I just completely missed those. I will go in and correct them now. No, this had nothing to do with Mr. Rohn’s writings. That was my error all the way. Thank you for pointing those out.

  20. Bob Burg said at 12:03 pm on

    Samantha: Great point. And, it’s still a challenge for me, as well. Please know that I have to continually work on this. I’m a LOT better at it than I was and still have a long way to go. Yes, “The Four Agreements” is one of my favorite books. The Agreements, “Don’t Make Assumptions” and “Don’t Take Things Personally” are two of the most life-changing lessons I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing with us, my friend!

  21. Bob, whenever Jim Rohn is mentioned (in this particular piece, on the subject of lying) I feel I am in the Temple of King Solomon, where wisdom abounds! You’ve articulated the issue well. Some things, such as why people lie, must be left, as Mr. Rohn said, and be considered as the mysteries of life…one cannot just try and explain it away.
    I lied to my eldest son in order for him to not know he was adopted!
    I lied to my wife to prevent her from knowing I came from a humble beginning and background.
    I lied to save lives (hiding those running away from immediate executions, in my bath tub):
    And here comes the bomb:-
    I lied, because I didn’t know I was lying! I lied because it was a “MENTAL THING.” Just as one would wear a corrective lens for long or near-sightedness. One’s eye retina does not allow light to travel unto the retina for proper vision. Thereby must be corrected with a convex or concave lens!!! Obviously, it is sad when the brain cannot process fact from fiction…I mean barring the aid of hallucinogens! Suffice it to say, some lie because the choose to lie and to manipulate. Others unknowingly…and must be left to the mysteries of nature, as Mr. Jim Rohn put it, and Bob you were superb to relay it! Thanks a million!
    Peter Hutton-Mills, Independent Associate, Legal Shield.

  22. Bob Burg said at 1:04 pm on

    Peter: Thank you. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us, my friend!

  23. Bob Burg said at 12:49 pm on

    Dan: The lesson you shared it a very important one. It’s that missing link between good intentions and actual results, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing.

    {Note: Pastor Dan Rockwell (@leadershipfreak) on Twitter has a terrific blog on Leadership. Check it out for some terrific daily Leadership Wisdom}

  24. Jean Kuhn said at 2:10 pm on

    Hi Bob,

    Great post. I have learned 2 very important lessons.

    #1 “Anything worth having is worth working for”. Jean’s Mom

    #2 “You can have everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

    Thanks for making me remember these today!

  25. Bob Burg said at 2:50 pm on

    Jean: Thank you. Wise words from your wise Mom and one of my all-time favorite sayings from the wise Zig Ziglar. Thank you for sharing!

    Lillian: Congratulations to you for being conscious of it and acting accordingly. I hope you take great pleasure in that!

  26. Thanks, Bob. I, too, know better. Was I following Jim’s advice? Of course not! I was getting myself all worked up because of a client’s assistant who typically does not do what she says she will do. I just took a deep breath and let her be. How good that feels!
    May your day be as great.

  27. Cheri said at 3:12 pm on

    Not that it makes a difference, but lying is generally rooted to a deeper problem. Mine started in childhood. As an abused child, I often ‘created a fantasy world (i.e., lies)’ in vast contrast to my real world. Unfortunately, it continued into adulthood, and it took many years before I was able to make the connection. Then many more years to break the habit. Ultimately, freedom came for me by becaming a lover of truth. It sometimes makes those closest to me uncomfortable because they say that I like truth–even to my hurt. Realizing that not everyone is ready for the truth, I now work hard at speaking the truth–IN LOVE.

  28. Bob Burg said at 3:29 pm on

    Cheri: Thank you. Those things are always helpful to know. In the case of the post, I used “lying” as just an example. It wasn’t so much about understanding why the fictional person I cited might have lied as much as it was about us and how we might handle it in a way that is not productive. And, of course, how Mr. Rohn’s advice can help. I could have substituted the example of “lying” for any number of other negative traits. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I’m sure that will – in and of itself – help many of us in having a deeper understanding.

  29. Roger Boneno said at 4:19 pm on

    Bob, this is so appropriate. I had a client, who actually goes to the same Church as I do, lie to me consistently and then say he just does not want to pay me for what I provided.

    What’s challenging for me is that honesty is so ingrained in me (thanks to my parents), that it actually surprises me when people lie to me directly.

  30. Bob Burg said at 4:37 pm on

    Roger: Gosh, if I’m interpreting this correctly, it sounds like he’s actually telling the truth…about the fact that he is lying!! On a practical basis, this tells you that – IF you choose to do business with him – you need to protect yourself by getting paid upfront.

    Regarding your second paragraph, yes, that is the part where we say, “one of the mysteries of life.” Because the way you’ve been brought up, it’s very difficult for you to imagine the way this person conducts himself.

  31. The example that liars provide the “what not to do” as you suggested Bob, though it makes sense when you know they’re lying, it’s hard when you don’t, because there were times (I’ll own this one) I have been lied to by someone who I did not know was lying and it had dreadful consequences for me. I can’t change the truth, but a lie….??? To this day, I still don’t get it. Long ago I decided that was their problem, not mine; however, I’ve been mindful of staying out of the way of the on-coming train, and have continued with the attitude that there is good in everyone….and there is!

  32. Bob Burg said at 5:40 pm on

    Ali: I might not be understanding correctly. Eventually, you did know they were lying. Remember that the example I used could be anything. I simply used lying and, even in the fictitious example, I didn’t know they lied until I eventually found out they lied. And, while again, it was totally just a quick, convenient and fictitious example, it has certainly happened to me in real life as I would imagine it has happened to everyone reading this. Maybe in business or maybe not, but I’m fairly certainly we’ve all been lied to and didn’t know it…until we knew it.

    Regarding not getting it? I agree. That’s what this entire post is about. It’s understanding that there are some things in this life we are simply not going to understand. At least not at the moment. And, that’s where we utilize Mr. Rohn’s advice.

    Whether you knew they lied at the time they lied or found out later, the results are the same. But we could use anything as an example whenever someone does something that is…wrong, mean, nasty, self-hurtful,hurtful to others, etc… or any other things that, logically, we simply can’t understand why someone would ever do.

    Example of something none of us could possibly understand and how Jim Rohn might address it (I hope none of us could possibly understand) based on this teaching: “Why do hit-men kill people?” “I don’t know, they just do. That’s what hit-men do; they kill people. Personally, I don’t know how anyone could do that…It’s one of the mysteries of life.”

    Make sense?

    Thank you, my friend. And, if I have misinterpreted, please feel free to write back and let me know.

  33. Kim White said at 6:13 pm on

    Enjoying the thoughtful comments and your great post, Bob! I also thought immediately of the Four Agreements. My problem is that I love to analyze (numbers, human behavior, anything really) but that is dangerous because pretty soon I’m itching to figure out the ‘why’ behind the observation. But then I remember that it’s not my business to know why. If someone is lying to me, that lie is within them. They are lying to themselves, not me. It’s not about me at all. And I let it go. Sometimes this comes easily. Sometimes it’s very, very hard. But discussions like this help me remain mindful. Thanks everyone! I love this blog.

  34. Bob Burg said at 6:19 pm on

    Kim: Yes, certainly nothing wrong with trying to understand life’s mysteries, so long as we know when to let it go as a mystery and not take it past the point of our personal peace of mind…and sanity. πŸ™‚

    On the practical end, we do need to make sure that – while we understand that, as you said, the lie is within them, that we don’t put ourselves in a position to be hurt by it. Yes, let it go. But, think twice before doing something with them in which their lying to you could hurt you.

    Thank you for your kind comments. Love having you as part of our blog family!

  35. You got it perfectly right, Bob. Appreciate you took the time to dig deeper thus bringing up more clarity. Yes, you make perfect sense.

    Gracias mil, Bob.

  36. Bob Burg said at 7:18 pm on

    Mi placer, mi amiga!

  37. Julio Medina said at 9:49 am on

    Bob it is a great post!!!
    I have recently this situation “liar lie” and try to undertand why, then I felt guilty and fool…finally I listened to jim rohn’s audio ( I always do) so I changed my point of view.
    One of the thing I learned about this situation it something mr. Rhon says “drama of life” some times we make things bigger and we also add a lot of emotions… At the end it doesn’t help and make things worst than they are.
    I have learned this ” what happen to you happen for you”.
    Thank you BOB

  38. Bob Burg said at 9:58 am on

    Julio, mi amigo y hermano: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments with us. So glad that Mr. Rohn’s advice was able to help you look at things in a helpful way. And, yes, we as human beings tend to make the dramas even bigger than they need be, don’t we? πŸ™‚ Gracias, otra vez!

  39. Kirk Goodwin said at 10:10 am on

    One of the most freeing words of wisdom have come from one of our mutual friends and my mentor – Paul Martinelli. He taught me to assume noble intent, that is to believe other people’s intentions are positive, even if it could be interpreted otherwise. I have found this to be especially true in the written word. Tone of voice in email or blog comments is especially difficult to determine. Assuming noble intent has empowered me to always think the best of someone and respond appropriately.

  40. Bob Burg said at 10:13 am on

    Kirk: Wise words indeed from a very wise man. Yes, all else being equal, assume the best of intent. Or, as Paul so eloquently calls it, “noble intent.” Awesome. Thank you for sharing with us!

  41. Ali R. Rodriguez said at 10:17 am on

    I tell you Bob, this post has ignited a lot of fires, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the company we are in. Such kindred spirits! I’m also loving what Kirk Goodwin just said about the noble intention. It completely resonates with me, as I still go with the mindset that there is goodness in everyone.

    This is beginning to feel like a family gathering celebrating higher values in life. πŸ™‚

  42. Bob Burg said at 10:24 am on

    Ali: I know. As my awesome friend, Dondi Scumaci often says…”Bob, you have the best readers!” πŸ™‚ I love the responses, sharing of ideas and back-and-forth we often have amongst our Blog Family. Thank YOU, Ali, for being such a valued member of it!! πŸ™‚

  43. Ali R. Rodriguez said at 10:34 am on

    Ahhhhh…..:) For sure.

  44. Geneva said at 10:44 am on

    AWEsome blog & responses! Thanks for addressing this. I trusted people to a fault & had to learn:
    A. Not to take it personally–I quit beating myself up by going through the “what if I’d done this or that differently” process.
    B. People are disappointed in/with themselves on many levels & therefore will disappoint others. This is sometimes done unintentionally out of guilt, shame, fear, lack of self esteem or whatever! πŸ™‚
    I have to use those experiences as a teachable moment, make a mental note, & not to be that person to others.
    So appreciate you!

  45. Bob Burg said at 11:23 am on

    Geneva: Thank you for your kind feedback and very wisdom-filled thoughts and suggestions!

  46. […] « One of Those Huge Life Difference-Makers […]

  47. Christie Ellis said at 11:38 am on

    Great post Bob…Sorry I am late coming to this awesome discussion. You truly helped me understand this a few weeks ago. Someone wrote a negative review about something I wrote and it did not feel good to read it. I kept thinking “what did I ever do to this person to make them be so mean to someone they don’t even know”? Then I asked you, “why are people so mean?” Your words were along the lines of what you just wrote and made me feel so much better and I din’t waste too much more time (admittedly I did dwell on it it for at least a few more minutes) but you were 100% correct. It is what it is. You made me less anxious and upset because you follow this mindset, thank you!!!

  48. Bob Burg said at 11:52 am on

    Christie, thank you. And, as human beings, we can know it and still struggle with it, can’t we? Interestingly, just a few days after you, I also received a very negative review at Amazon on The Go-Giver. Really, I’m not even sure the person read the book because his review pretty much had nothing to do with the content. Yet, he felt compelled to write and post that review. I know it’s nothing personal. It was more about him than about me. And, you know what? It STILL ticked me off! (At least temporarily) πŸ™‚ Yep, even though I know those kinds of people do those things because…”they just do.” LOL!

  49. Christie Ellis said at 5:27 pm on

    lol…you are so right…you were also very right when you encouraged me not to engage the writer of the bad review. That was very hard not to write back and ask a zillion questions and “prove” why he shouldn’t have done that πŸ™‚

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