Some “self help” books really aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Many of them seam to focus on theory and end there. One of the reasons I really enjoyed “Take the Stairs” by Rory Vaden, was because he didn’t just end on theory, he followed through to application. “Take the Stairs” is about self discipline, taking the stairs instead of the escalators. Two things that stood out to me in this book were the action items (the application part that is missing from so many books) and the Rent Axiom.

The Action Items are the application part of the book. There are some simple questions and ideas for how to put the ideas covered in the chapter into play in your life. There are a set of questions and an action item for each of the chapters in the book. Throughout the chapter, author Rory Vaden speaks of the theory of the topic, but also has some points of putting things into action. The Action Items at the end are really the fuel for the fire in my opinion that helps the read to start using the things discussed in the book.

One interesting thing about these Action Items, they’re at the end of the book. At first I thought it was a little odd that these were left for the very end of the book, but then I remembered something mentioned in the Introduction section of the book – Rory Vaden says very simple “Most people won’t finish this book.” Sadly, many people who buy a book like this never read it or even open the book. By saving the Action Items at the very end of the book, it served as a sort of reward for those who have shone the dedication to “take the stairs” and read the whole book (and it’s only about 150 pages, a fairly quick read).

The other part of the book that really stood out to me was what Rory Vaden calls the Rent Axiom. The Rent Axiom states that “Success is never owned, it’s rented. And the rent is due, every day.” The really powerful point about the Rent Axiom is that the “success” part can be taken out and replaced with anything and the statement is still true. For example:

The idea behind the Rent Axiom is that just because you’ve attained something, doesn’t mean it’s there to stay. Just because you have a happy marriage doesn’t mean that it will last if you don’t work at it. Just because you have the best skill set of any employees in your company doesn’t mean you always will if you don’t keep learning. Just because you have a successful business today doesn’t mean you always well if you don’t continually mange it. The Rent Axiom reminds you that even though we may have achieved [you fill in the blank], we must keep working at it and improving it and keep earning it.

Every semester I provide my students a list of books that I recommend they read if they want to be successful in any given field. After ready “Take the Stairs” I quickly added it to that list. We live in an era when everyone is looking for the escalators or the micro-wave dinner. If you’re looking to get things turned around in your life and build some self-discipline skills and get more accomplished, I highly recommend “Take the Stairs” and adopt a take the stairs mindset.