• Elizabeth Wells

Review for "Take the Stairs" by Rory Vaden

*Workbook in Progress*

I am still catching up on creating workbooks for the previous books I posted questions for - including this one. All questions will remain available to you here in the meantime!

Intro to the Review

We have all had the experience of enthusiastically starting a new book only to realize that it is not what were expecting. The purpose of the following review is not to express my opinion on whether the book is "good" or "bad." I expect most of the books I read to be "good," Whether or not it is the right book for you is another question entirely. My goal for this and every review I write is to help you decide whether this book would be a good fit for you.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Does it seem like the content covered in this book aligns with what I was expecting to find?

  • Is the main problem addressed in this book similar to my own goal for what I would like to get from reading it?

  • Is the style and format written in a way that will not hinder my ability to get the most value from this book?

  • Am I the intended audience for this book?

If after reading the review, you can answer yes to all these questions, there's a pretty good chance this book is the right fit for you. If not, well, there are plenty more books out there just waiting for you to read them.

Take the Stairs

7 Steps to Achieving True Success

Rory Vaden

219 pages - Ⓒ 2012 TarcherPerigee

“I’m not prepared to leave my life’s success up to chance. Are you?”

Pick up where you left off:


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Vocabulary List



Book Review

Author Background

Rory Vaden is an author and business motivational speaker who specializes in self-discipline strategy. He is a 2x World Champion of Public Speaking Finalist, has been called one of the top 100 speakers in the world by Inc Magazine and was inducted into the professional speakers Hall of Fame. His other book titled Procrastinate on Purpose (affiliate link) was published in 2015. His website has lots of resources and can be found here.

What Problem Does This Book Attempt To Address?

Our society has been brainwashed to believe that everything we want should be easy and quick to obtain. We have lost the foundational principle for creating success – self-discipline. The purpose of this book is to provide instructions on how to develop, improve and consistently demonstrate self-discipline through mindset and daily habits. As the subtitle suggests, there are 7 different strategies within the book on how to go about doing this.


· Concept explanation: Clear

· Related stories: Many

· Data references and studies: Few

· Charts and graphics: Few

· Practical application: Strong

The concepts in the book are outlined, defined, and then extrapolated on in a very easy-to-understand and practical way, while still keeping the reader’s interest. I appreciate that the information is accessible to everyone, regardless of education level or previous experience. It feels very inclusive in the way he explains and presents his points. There is one central theme – improving self-discipline - and then each chapter talks about a different aspect of building and maintaining it. The guidelines are simple and clear and easily translate into daily habits. There is a workbook section at the end of the book with reflection questions and action steps.

Writing Style & Presentation

· Tone: Conversational

· Organization: Excellent

· Flow: Excellent

Each chapter is dedicated to one of the 7 strategies laid out in the introduction. The organization is very effective and makes the material easy to digest and remember. The flow is excellent. Most stories are written in separate blocks. Some of the main ones, particularly ones regarding the Vaden’s own personal experience, are written in the main text. The flow is very logical and feels cohesive and well executed.

Bringing It all Together

One thing done really well: The explanation of the main concept in the introduction section does an excellent job preparing a foundation for the 7 steps to follow in the rest of the book. This makes it easy to tie all 7 chapters back to the main point as you read.

One thing that could be better: Nothing comes to mind that I would change.

One main thing I took away from this book was: Self-discipline isn’t a personality trait or an innate gift of willpower; it is a series of emotional, mental and physical habits that successful people have learned and that anyone can adopt.

Overall Recommendation

Who I would recommend this book for: Someone looking for motivation and tips on how to do the things they know they should be doing but aren’t.

Who I wouldn’t recommend this book for: Someone who feels they already have good self-discipline and productivity habits – this is more of an introductory book for people who do not have those skills yet.


Discussion Questions


Why do we look for the “escalators” in life?

What has been the result so far for Americans adopting the escalator mindset?

What central value is lacking in our society?

What are the drawbacks to the escalator mindset?

What is causing the lack of accountability in our society?

How has society shaped our mindset to look for shortcuts?

What do successful people have in common?

What does becoming successful require?

Why is discipline mandatory?

What does self-discipline mean?

What does self-discipline not mean?

What is the payoff of having self-discipline?

Why is it sometimes difficult to detect lack of discipline?

How do distractions impact self-discipline and success?

How will self-discipline help during curbside moments?

Where does success come from?

What are the two types of activities?

What is the relation between habits and success?

What is the disadvantage of chasing a finish line?

What is the Rent Axiom?

Chapter 1

What happens to problems when they are ignored?

What are the two opposing criteria influencing our choices?

Which of these criteria win in the short-term?

Why is taking shortcuts a counterintuitive strategy?

What is the Pain Paradox?

How do successful people respond to emotional pulls?

How do the compound effect and self-discipline work together?

What is the cost of procrastination in business?

What are the unquantifiable costs of procrastination?

What is the best way to reframe sacrifice?

Chapter 2

What is the Buy-In Principle of Commitment?

What is a pivot point?

What is the significance of emotional energy when striving for success?

How do we approach decision making in order to be successful?

What is the mindset of someone who is truly committed in an endeavor?

What question do successful people ask instead of “Should I?”?

What must be a characteristic for unacceptable consequences to be effective?

How do we identify our unspoken “conditions” for commitments?

What is the benefit of stating conditions in advance?

What is a sign you are looking for circumstance-based success?

What is the definition of attitude?

Chapter 3

What are the 3 types of procrastination?

What is the Law of Douglas McArthur and which type of procrastination is it connected with?

What are people with “priority dilution” falling victim to?

What is more important than determining what to do?

What are the three aspects that need to be focused on?

What happens when we do not consciously focus our thinking?

How can you use positive self-talk to improve self-discipline?

What technique allows us to control our emotions?

What is the importance of having a vision?

Why is having a VAST vision beneficial?

Chapter 4

What is the Creation Principle?

How do intention statements influence outcome?

What is the benefit of gratitude?

What is the best way to hold people accountable?

What are the 3 ways to get people to take action?

What examples are given of things that weaken your words?

What role do words play in the creation of new ideas?

List the 7 guidelines for harnessing the power of your word.

Chapter 5

Why is it crucial to plan life around harvest seasons?

What is the myth of balance?

How do we create true balance?

How does focusing on seasons provide clarity?

What shift in thinking can yield massive results?

What is the Take the Stairs mindset about?

How does discipline create freedom?

What is double part-time?

What does being on schedule mean?

What happens when you don’t allow yourself to say “I don’t have time”?

What are the Fundamental 5?

What is the value of planning protected time?

Why is important to monitor and measure our schedule?

How do we recover when we go off-schedule?

What is meaningful about the delay between being on schedule and getting results?

Chapter 6

What can you do to change your behavior?

What does perspective provide when looking at failures?

Why is faith in the future important?

When does frustration show up?

What is the only thing that matters in the Take the Stairs mindset?

What does taking action on critical tasks demonstrate to yourself?

Chapter 7

What is the difference between understanding and believing?

What does being a successful person require?

How do successful people handle inadequacies?

Why is it important to have a strong connection between vision and action?

What is wisdom?

What is the Law of Diminishing Intent?

How is the Rent Axiom related to the Law of Diminishing Intent?

What are the three attitudes that cause inaction?

What is the cure for fear?

What should you do when you are scared to do something?

How does entitlement impact self-discipline?

Why do perfectionists avoid action?

How do successful people view mistakes?

What thoughts can shift you out of a perfectionist mindset?

What is the importance of accountability?

What are the 4 accountability relationships needed for success?

Vocabulary List

These are words I noticed while reading that some people may be unfamiliar with. Use the worksheet to customize this list for yourself.

None for this book! Please feel free to add your own.

Discussion Question Workbook

The workbook that accompanies this post includes:

  • All discussion questions with space for writing answers

  • All vocabulary words with space to write definitions and add your own words

  • Chapter reflection questions

  • Final reflection questions

  • A condensed list of all discussion questions, for reference.

You can download this complimentary workbook for free:

Take the Stairs Rory Vaden Discussion Question Workbook - Oak Tree Reading
Download PDF • 493KB

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