The Best Quotes From Robert Ringer’s “Action!”

by John Hawkins | January 26, 2009 7:41 am

Robert Ringer has always been one of my favorite authors. In fact, his books Winning Through Intimidation[1] and Looking Out for #1[2] were two of the most influential tomes I’ve ever read (PS: Be forewarned or heartened, take your pick, that neither book is nearly as utterly Randian as it sounds, however.)

Ringer’s Action!: Nothing Happens Until Something Moves[3] isn’t quite as good as the two previously mentioned books, but it’s still a superb book that I’d recommend. After you read my favorite quotes from Action, I think you’ll get a better understanding of why I speak of Ringer’s work so highly.

“…Perhaps only 45% of success is showing up, while another 45% of success is asking. Asking is the simplest, most efficient, and potentially most rewarding action a person can take. I’ve become such a believer in the power of asking that I am compelled to share with you my Ten Sacred Rules of Success:

Rule No. 1: Ask
Rule No. 2: Ask again.
Rule No. 3: Ask again.
Rule No. 4: Ask again.
Rule No. 5: Ask again.
Rule No. 6: Ask again.
Rule No. 7: Ask again.
Rule No. 8: Ask again.
Rule No. 9: Ask again.
Rule No. 10: Ask again.

I never cease to be amazed by how many times I’ve achieved results simply because I took the trouble (and in many cases, had the gall or audacity) to ask — and kept asking until I got the yes I was after.” — P.32

“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be motivated to act. If necessary, force yourself to take action and motivation will follow.” — P.38

“The magic that results from taking action explain’s Napoleon Hill’s statement in his book Think and Grow Rich: ‘When you’re ready for a thing, it will make its appearance.’ Have you ever heard something for years, then suddenly the right person, in the right place, at the right time says it in just the right way, and you say, ‘Wow! That’s great! What a terrific thought!’ Then a friend or spouse says, ‘But I’ve been telling you that for years, and you’ve never gotten excited about it before. What’s the big deal?’

The big deal is that prior to that time you had not been ready for it, because you didn’t have a clear mental picture of what you wanted. When it finally hit you like a sledgehammer, it was because you were ready to hear it, absorb it, ready to act on it, so it created the illusion that it magically made its appearance at that moment.” — P.45

“Children and politicians are notorious for either not understanding the consequences of their actions or refusing to believe that the same actions will always result in the same consequences. (It is fascinating to ponder why we punish children for not heeding the consequences of their actions, yet vote for politicians who promise to ignore history and repeat the mistakes of the past.)” — P.53

“‘Peace on earth’ is a noble objective, but those who believe it is possible to achieve it have not done their math very well. How do you get 6 billion people, whose belief systems vary wildly, to agree on a moral, rational premise for peace? On the contrary, a dominant premise of a large percentage of the world’s population is that most of their problems would be solved if they could just exterminate a particular ethnic or religious group.” — P.55-56

“The reality, of course, is that no President can do anything to positively affect the economy other than try to get the government out of the economy. As for creating jobs, the only way any politician can create a job is to take a job away from someone else, either directly or indirectly. By indirectly, I am referring to the fact that government-created jobs take money out of the economy and thereby cause other people to become unemployed.” — P.57

“Anatomically speaking, each of us has a microscopic alarm in our brain — referred to in higher circles of medicine as the Kosher Button — that activates when something we’re hearing or seeing doesn’t ring true.” — P.60

“Human disdain for the truth has always been with us. More than three hundred years ago, Baltasar Gracian pointed out that, ‘Truth is abhorred by the masses.’ Why do people harbor such hatred for truth? Because truth can often be harsh, and, as human beings, we quite naturally gravitate toward less pain and more pleasure. Which is fine, so long as it pertains to long-term pleasure rather than to instant gratification. We tend not to worry about what’s coming down the road; we just want to feel good today. We simply do not want our self-delusive little worlds to be upset by an insignificant irritant such as truth. But the reality is that one has to be willing to experience the discomfort often associated with truth if his objective is to take rational actions that are in harmony with his long-term objectives.” — P.65

“If I desire a Rolls-Royce, that’s my business. It becomes your business only if I arbitrarily decide that you have an obligation to buy it for me, on the grounds that it’s a ‘need’ and that I am therefore ‘entitled’ to it. The fact that I may call my desire for a Rolls-Royce a need is, of course, semantic nonsense. I may just as well call it a want, because regardless of what word I assign to it, I still have no moral right to force you to help me acquire it just because I happen to want it.” — P.76

“Sooner or later, we learn this truth and come to understand that there is a price for everything in life. There’s a price for working hard; there’s a price for not working hard enough. There’s a price for saving for the future; there’s a price for spending all your money now. There’s a price for having children; there’s a price for not having children. There’s a price for having friends; there’s a price for being a loner. There’s a price for taking the right action, there’s a price for taking the wrong action, and yes, there’s a price for taking no action at all.

What this means is that you always have to give up something in order to get something in return. The empirical evidence suggests that even though most adults understand this principle on an intellectual level, they do not accept it on an emotional level. This results in actions that a rational person would describe as irrational, and irrational actions are sure to produce bad consequences.” — P.82

“Clearly, if you to sell someone on yourself or your product, you have to get to the point quickly. Tell the prospect everything that you or it can do for him, and don’t waste his time with hyperbole. Better, faster, and cheaper are three magical words to remember when thinking about how to create value.” — P.85

“As Winston Churchill put it, ‘Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.'” — P.98

“How well do you practice what you say you believe in? Bodhidharma, the sixth-century Zen master, put it simply when he said, ‘All know the way, but few actually walk it.'” — P.117

“The gracious person purposely avoids looking victorious over underlings, peers, and, above all, superiors. There is no easier way to damage relations with others than by being arrogant in victory. Many of the most successful people I know are gracious, polite, and considerate when they accomplish an outstanding feat. It’s a great way to make and keep allies with a minimum of effort.” — P.121

“Keep reminding yourself that you do not have a right to someone’s love, friendship, or respect. All these, and more, must be earned. If you choose to act contrary to this principle, the result is likely to be frustration and disappointment.” — P.128

“Opposites may attract, but they tend to end up strangling each other.” — P.129

“Don’t expect even the most ethical people to live up to your moral expectations of them 100 percent of the time. All people, at one time or another, deviate from their moral beliefs; i.e., they are sometimes hypocritical. By now you know the lure: instant gratification.” — P.129

“People talk endlessly about freedom but rarely take the trouble to examine its roots. Freedom begins with a concept called natural law. The underlying premise of natural law is that every individual owns his own life, and for that reason possesses the right to do whatever he desires with that life so long as he does not forcibly interfere with the life of another person. Many people, of course, do not agree with the underlying premise of natural law, particularly those who want to be free to curb the freedom of others. This is what most political action groups are about.” — P.163

More often than not, when you eliminate the world ‘but’, you eliminate the excuse itself. Instead of relying on but, practice saying things such as. ‘I know it’s wrong to think about the past, so I’m going to stop,’ or ‘I know I can’t do anything about it now, which is why I am going to forget about it.’ — P.164

“Like most things in life, however, deep thinking becomes a problem when carried to the extreme of evolving into what I call the why? syndrome. Unless you’re working towards a master’s degree in rocks, is it really important to know why a rock exists? From a utilitarian point of view, the fact that a rock exists and that you have no use for it is sufficient information. The simplicity of such an observation allows the utilitarian to move quickly on to more important matters of his life, which is much more conducive to success.” — P.177

“When I mentioned the term African American, Marilyn grimaced and said, ‘I cringe when people refer to me as an African American. I wasn’t born in Africa; I don’t know anything about Africa; and I don’t plan on ever going to Africa. So how do I qualify as an African-American?’ Good question.”

“Every age has its ‘robber barons’ — from J.P. Morgan to Howard Hughes to Michael Milken — and the devil of choice in this new millennium is Bill Gates. Being the richest man in the world makes him an easy target for the envious. The reality, of course, is that Gates is the world’s richest man because he probably created more value for more people — particularly people of lesser means — than any human being in history. The measly billions he personally possesses pale by comparison to the uncountable trillions of dollars people have earned, and will continue to earn, as a result of his entrepreneurial exploits. Bill Gates and Microsoft have dramatically changed for the better the way that we live, and ‘we’ includes those who don’t even know how to use a computer.” — P.188

“The ultimate legal entanglement is a nasty little invention commonly referred to as a lawsuit, which anyone with the slightest business experience knows is a losing proposition for both the plaintiff and the defendant. There is, however, one winner: Legalman, also commonly referred to as ‘attorney,’ ‘lawyer,’ or by a variety of obscenities.” — P.191

“An innate sense of fairness compels me to point out that it’s really only about 97% of the attorneys in this country who are lazy, incompetent, negligent, and unethical, yet they make a bad name for the whole profession.” — P.192

“In fact, an excellent definition of maturity is the willingness to forego instant gratification…” — P.199

“To many people, spontaneity is the ultimate symbol of freedom — do what you want, when you want, how you want. Routine — which is an integral part of life maintenance — represents a form of imprisonment to such people. Personally, I have found the opposite to be true. For me, a routine is an ongoing catharsis resulting not in imprisonment, but in freedom. When my life is in order, I have more time to work on constructive long term projects, not to mention more time for pleasurable activities. The more religiously one maintains a daily routine, the less his mind is clogged with petty problems, which, in turn, translates into lower stress and anxiety.” — P.203

“Don’t try to do everything, just do something. If you don’t learn to take life one wave at a time, it will overwhelm you. The aphorism ‘the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time’ is all too appropriate. Since it’s impossible to get everything done, you should discipline yourself to prioritize. And since circumstances continually change, always consider present conditions when setting priorities, then let those priorities determine your actions.” — P.209

“It’s wise, then, to avoid revealing the heart of your enterprise to more people than are absolutely necessary to bring about its success.” — P.217

“To take action based on what I believe to be right rather than on what others believe to be right, I find it helpful to constantly remind myself that civilization progresses as a result of the bold actions of a small minority of earth’s population. The masses don’t invent lightbulbs, automobiles, airplanes, or computers. They simply go along for the ride.” — P.218

“Most people will expend huge amounts of energy to avoid expending the energy needed to do the job they were asked to do in the first place.” — P.220

“The word exception is almost a misnomer, because in the real world exceptions are rarely the nonrecurring phenomena that people would like to believe they are; i.e. exceptions have a tendency to become the rule. That’s because exceptions are usually made to accommodate one’s desire for instant gratification, and instant gratification is addictive. Isn’t it true that there’s always a special game, a special event, or a special dessert to tempt you? And isn’t there always someone around to chide you, ‘Aw c’mon, just this one time. What’s the big deal? It’s not going to kill you.’ — P.222

“…Consider the possibility that man is to God as a dog is to man, and a dog is to man as a flea is to a dog; i.e., the man, the dog, and the flea, who are merely tagging along for the ride, have neither the faintest idea as to why their masters do what they do nor the means to ever understand why.

The question then becomes: Is God indifferent to us, as the dog is to the flea, or does He allow us to suffer for reasons we do not understand? When someone takes his dog to the veterinarian, the dog has no idea why his master allows pain to be inflicted on him. In the same way, perhaps, God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He knows what we need.” — P.229

“There is always a reason for a bad consequence, but a reason is different from an excuse. An excuse implies an attempt to escape accountability. The fact that someone may have been dishonest with you might be a legitimate reason why you were harmed, but if you use the other person’s dishonesty as an excuse for what happened to you, you are letting yourself off the hook and thereby escaping personal responsibility.” — P.231

“By perspective, I’m talking about the capacity to view things on their relative level of importance. Today you’re passed over for a promotion and you think the world is coming to an end. Tomorrow, you lose your job, and a promotion is no longer important to you; you just yearn to have your job back. Then you lose your health, and suddenly you realize how good you had it when your only problem was not having a job.” — P.237

“In particular, the capacity to deflect rejection and forge ahead as though it were nothing but a minor irritant is the key to ensuring that the Law of Averages will deliver positive results.” — P.245

“You’ve heard this theme many times before in such expressions as ‘Every failure plants the seed of an equivalent success’ and ‘Always look for the half-full glass rather than the half-empty glass.’

People who think this way are not blind optimists. Rather, they simply understand that there’s an equal and offsetting positive to every negative occurrence, so they immediately look for the hidden positive the moment something goes wrong. More specifically, what they do is maximize the positives in every negative situation.” — P.246

“In the words of Voltaire, ‘Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know of no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.'” — P.247

“Real happiness lies not in the achievement of goals, but in the striving towards goals. Striving implies action; achievement implies inertia, or an end to the action that brought about the achievement. You have to have a purpose in life that does not fade away once you achieve a goal or reach a milestone.” — P.253

“Perhaps we should all heed the words of Michael Landon — producer, director, writer, and superstar — who died of pancreatic cancer in 1991, at age fifty-four, at the peak of his career. Said Landon, ‘Somebody ought to tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.'” — P.261

  1. Winning Through Intimidation:
  2. Looking Out for #1:
  3. Action!: Nothing Happens Until Something Moves:

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