10 Punk Rock Rules for Success

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

“I just wish to shine brighter, and if it burns my body to a crisp, I’m happy to go right now.”

That bit of high-intensity wisdom comes from a man who I admire deeply; singer, songwriter, spoken-word artist, author, actor, radio and TV show host, publisher and true renaissance man, Henry Rollins.

Henry made his mark on pop culture as the frontman for the quintessential punk rock band Black Flag, and then later via the Rollins Band, and he turned that experience into a multi-faceted and eminently interesting career fit for a true polymath. His career continues today, mostly through writing and one-man spoken word shows that combine the intensity of a punk rock concert with the intellectual stimulation of a Ted Talk.

If you are a long-time reader of The Deep Woods, you probably know that I am a huge music fan and a huge fan of renaissance men (and women) who are able to do many different things in life and to do those things very well. In fact, I have an entire website and podcast appropriately called Way of the Renaissance Man, which is dedicated to extracting wisdom and knowledge from these types of individuals so that we can apply that wisdom and knowledge to our own lives.

A couple of years ago, another polymath I admire, entrepreneur, investor and business inspirer Evan Carmichael compiled a list that he called “Henry Rollins’s Top 10 Rules for Success.” You can watch the video on YouTube. I recommend doing so, as it will give you a sense of the intensity and focus Henry puts into just about every breath he takes.

Here is a list of those top 10 rules (complete with sage advice straight from Henry himself), rules that I also try to live by, and rules that can help everyone — regardless of what stage they are in life — achieve just that little bit extra that makes life glorious.

Rule 1: Be Driven

Rollins says he uses childhood anger and fear of failure to fuel his sense of drive. “I descend from the sky and land on things really hard, and I go at everything with that amount of fury,” Rollins says. Now that is a definition of drive that we all can admire.

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Rule 2: Work Hard

Rollins says that no matter what he does, he goes at everything “fully engaged, and that intensity has served him quite well.” He also credits his punk rock roots for that work ethic, as everything in the early days was a sort of do-it-yourself exercise in just trying to make it from week to week.

Rule 3: Keep Moving Forward

Continue to consistently work hard and always move forward in life. “I keep moving forward boldly because I have nothing to lose,” Rollins says. Of course, regardless of whether you think you have nothing to lose, life requires constant movement, or we fall into stagnation. “I like to work… It’s about activity and challenge,” he adds.

Rule 4: Just Do It

He tells the story about starting his own book publishing company, which was the essence of punk rock “DIY.” “You just do it; you don’t even think about it… and without hesitation I’m making my own book company. Stop me. I dare you,” Rollins recalls.

Rule 5: Take Your Shot

The “shot” for Rollins came when he was asked to audition as the singer for the iconic punk band Black Flag. He took a train from his home in Washington, D.C., to New York City and sang every song the band had. About 10 minutes after the audition was over, he was offered the job as the frontman of his favorite band. Now that is taking advantage of your “shot” in life.

Rule 6: Communicate Emotionally

“I feel a genuine need to communicate with an audience,” Rollins shares. That’s the way he describes his interaction with a crowd, because he sees it as the best way to genuinely connect with others. “It’s about communication, warning, broadcasting, emitting and trying to leave something of myself with the audience,” Rollins says. This rule is one of my favorites, because it’s also what I attempt to do each week in this publication.

Rule 7: Try Out Different Things

“Yeah, I’ll try that. I mean, why would I hold back?” This also is one of my favorite rules, as it encapsulates the fearlessness with which life should be approached. If there is something you want to do in life, try it out. The worse that can happen is you don’t like it, or you aren’t good at it. So what, at least you challenged yourself to stretch out and experience life in a different way.

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Rule 8: Manage Yourself

“The repeating factors of my life have been application, discipline, focus, repetition,” Rollins says. These keys for Rollins are also largely the keys to success of many high achievers. The reason why is because application, discipline, focus and repetition are how you really get good at something. No matter how much natural talent you might possess, you never will be extraordinary at a skill unless you apply yourself with the requisite discipline, focus and repetition required to achieve the highest levels of whatever it is you do.

Rule 9: Learn from Your Past

“The past holds all of your mistakes and humiliations. The future holds whatever you can make it,” Rollins says. He doesn’t think you should ignore the past, but he doesn’t think you should dwell on it and be miserable. Instead, you should learn from it and move on. “The future’s ready for you to not make those mistakes,” Rollins adds.

Rule 10: Have Passion

Here is the key rule to life that both Rollins and I embrace, as it’s really at the heart of your existence. Because whatever you do, and whatever time you have to do it, why not live it all the way? Forget about half-hearted effort or “just okay” results.

Have the passion to attack life like a punk rock front man — with all the intensity and hard-core aggression that meets life head on and that embraces the struggle. Because in the end, all we have is how we lived.

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It’s Almost Time to Get Buck Wild in Las Vegas!

The time to get intellectually wild is almost here. Yes, I am referring to this year’s FreedomFest conference and this year’s theme: “The Wild West.”

This conference has been called “The World’s Largest Gathering of Free Minds,” and for good reason, with more than 2,000 attendees and some 250 speakers and workshops.

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I cordially invite you to join me, as well as some of the world’s most renowned and celebrated heroes of the liberty movement such as Penn Jillette, John Mackey, Congressman Justin Amash, Dr. Mark Skousen, Glenn Beck, Charles Murray and scores of others on July 17-20, at the Paris Resort, Las Vegas. Use the promo code EAGLE50 for a special discount offer of $50 off the “Full Conference Pass” price of $595 per person… So that’s $545 per person/$845 per couple.

Come find out how those of us who love liberty celebrate this virtue, and how we get buck wild in Las Vegas!

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Unencumbered by Prejudice

“I have been blessed all of my life; I have never been encumbered by the prejudices of sight.”

–Anonymous

Today’s beautiful sentiment comes courtesy of reader Marc S., who sent this to me last week, along with some kind words about this publication. Now, what makes this quote so powerful is the context. You see, Marc is a former airline pilot, and on one flight, he had a passenger tell him the very words from the above quote. As Marc writes, “This was said by a blind man, blind from birth, elegant in dress and stature, a black man, with a depth of conversation I shall enjoy remembering till I pass.”

I love this man’s sentiment, as it reminds us that not only should we think of our shortcomings as blessings, but we can also use our own circumstances to combat the ugliness and irrationality of prejudice. Now that, dear reader, is flat-out awesome!

Big thanks to Marc for sharing this wisdom with us and for the kind words about The Deep Woods.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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