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We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation. Well, the late Jim Rohn aimed for the inspiration, always emphasizing the importance of taking responsibility for self-improvement and showing people how to reach for bigger, better lives.

Who inspired him? His mentor, Earl Shoaff, who told him this: If you want to be wealthy and happy, learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. And so began Jim Rohn’s belief in the importance of self-improvement. In his classic book, 7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness, Jim Rohn wrote an essay entitled “The Miracle of Personal Development” in which he explains why working on yourself is a never-ending pursuit:

Ever since Mr. Shoaff woke me up with that statement, I worked hard on my own personal growth, and I must admit that this was the most challenging assignment of all. But understand, this business of personal development lasts a lifetime.

You see, what you become is far more important than what you get. The important question to ask on the job is not, What am I getting? Instead, you should ask, What am I becoming? Getting and becoming are so closely intertwined—what you become directly influences what you get. Think of it this way: Most of what you have today you have attracted by becoming the person you are right now.

I’ve also found that income rarely exceeds personal development. Sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but unless you learn to handle the responsibilities that come with it, it will usually shrink back to the amount you can handle. If someone hands you a million dollars, you’d better hurry up and become a millionaire. A very rich man once said, “If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before.”

It is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development. So here’s the great axiom of life:

To have more than you’ve got, become more than you are.

This is where you should focus most of your attention. Otherwise, you just might have to contend with the axiom of not changing, which is:

Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got.

Related: Mentor to the Masters

This post originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

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