Every day stand guard at the door of your mind.
~ Jim Rohn
I first heard this quote through Tony Robbins (his connection to Jim Rohn in a moment). It struck a chord with me then because the meaning behind it is something I’ve heard others say in different ways before. There is weight behind it. In fact, I’ve written on similar subject before (We Become What We Consume).
I will dig into that meaning, and what the takeaways could be, but maybe we start with the source…
Who is Jim Rohn?
Emanuel James Rohn, more widely known as Jim Rohn, was an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He was born in 1930 in Yakima, Washington where he grew up as an only child on a farm.
His career began when he was hired as a human resource manager for Sears, Roebuck and Company. From there he advanced to other positions at AbundaVita and Nutri-Bio. The latter went out of business in the 1960s, and that’s when Rohn was asked to speak at his local Rotary Club.
It was readily apparent that Rohn has a knack for public speaking and motivating. He was asked to speak somewhere else, then somewhere else, and so on until he eventually began conducting seminars for Standard Oil and mentoring the likes of Mark Hughes (Herbalife International) and Tony Robbins (motivational speaker).
His influence on Tony Robbins is clear not just because Robbins refers to him often, but also in Robbins’ speaking style. He and Rohn both share a similar style. They are both affable, use storytelling to illustrate their point, and utilize humor without undercutting the importance of their message.
While he died in 2009, much of his work carries on through his writings and speeches, many of which can be found on YouTube, such as this one:
Every Day Stand Guard at the Door of Your Mind
What does this mean, to “stand guard at the door of your mind”? It means be cautious of what you let into your mind.
This advice may seem obvious, but it’s not, evidenced 1) by the people who live negative, self-destructive lives, and 2) everyone’s willingness to pollute their minds without realizing they’re even doing it.
The mind is much like the body’s largest organ – the skin. We tend to think of the skin as a layer that protects our inner parts from the outside world much like a jacket protects us from the rain. This is an illusion.
It is wiser to thin of the skin more like a sponge. It is porous and absorbs what it comes into contact with. This is precisely why people try to limit their exposure to chemicals in everything from hand lotion to shampoo.
The mind works much the same way, only instead of exposure through physical contact, it’s exposed to stimuli. The same as you want to limit the skin’s exposure to harmful chemicals, you want to limit the mind’s exposure to negative inputs.
The Adult Mind Needs Protection
It’s amazing that as parents we actively limit what our children are exposed to. As a society we label movies G, PG, or R. We install web protection software so children can’t see things we think they shouldn’t see. We don’t let them hang out with friends who are a bad influence.
How is it that a child’s mind needs protection but the adult mind does not? The obvious answer here is that the child has not yet developed the wherewithal to parse out what is good or bad. The child has a mind open to far more influence than the adult mind, and thus, warrants protection.
While this is true, that does not mean that the adult mind cannot be influenced by exposure to negative influences. It absolutely can! As parents we recognize the need to protect the child’s mind, but think nothing of protecting our own.
As adults we no longer have parents controlling negative influences. That responsibility is ours and ours alone, but parents rarely teach the skills to handle those influences because – really – we lack them ourselves. It’s easier as a parent to just close the door to them. But as adults we open the mental gate to anything and rarely recognize negative influences for what they are, let alone actually do anything about them. This is unfortunate.
You Are Your Own Guard
Flying the coop we leave the safety of the family nest and venture into the world, readily accepting all new inputs, awake and alive again like a newborn child. Here we begin setting new habits for all adulthood.
Sadly, with no parental guard at the door of the child’s mind, the door is often left wide open. We think nothing of this as adults, and in doing so, think nothing of the negative (or positive) influences that we expose ourselves to over time. And over time these influences shape what and how we think.
These negative influences can be violent television shows, negative commentary, toxic people, etc. They can come through the television, over the internet, or in person. Too much negative combined with too little positive and you can guess what the outcome will be.
We must pick up the sword and shield and stand guard at the door of our mind – every day.