Life lessons

Invaluable Life Lessons from Bon Jovi (That Don’t Involve Living on a Prayer)

Jon Bon Jovi is a legendary rock star from next-town-over-from-me New Jersey. At the same time he’s a songwriter, actor and accomplished entrepreneur. To put some frosting on the cake, Jon went from sweeping floors at a recording studio to selling over 120 million records world-wide.

Some people call it luck, some people call it talent, but I know for a fact that it is Jon’s out look on life that brought him every ounce of success that came his way. The beauty of life is that it is within all of us to adopt a paradigm that will bring us more happiness and success than we could ever imagine.

1. “Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.”

One thing that I think we can all agree upon is that when the going gets tough giving up is easy. Life is made as such that accomplishing easy goals is not nearly as satisfying as going through trials and tribulations acquire a well deserved prize.

That’s why for Jon it was important to trudge past all his failures and get back on his feet until he accomplished his goals. These trials came over and over again in his career and life, and I’m sure he has learned to look forward to the hard times because they are a sign of the rewards to come.

2. “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.”

There’s something inheritantly boring about the 9-5, which is why many people speak badly of it. Not necessarily because it’s too hard, or because we might fail, but certainly because of the fact that boredom kills off who we are.

Passion, in any way shape or form, is what sparks the vitality within us. If we’re going to be spending the better part of our day working and earning a living (or making a fortune) we should at least be doing something that we love, so we’ll love our lives.

3. “Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.”

The infamous comfort zone, oh killer of hopes and dreams. When our stomachs are full, and we’re totally satiated, we have no desire to go look for food. When we are comfortable enough with our living condition, we will most certainly not strive as hard to go after our dreams.

Going after your dreams, while exciting and fun, is designed to be hard. Laying around in the sack, stuffing ourselves with junk food, and numbing ourselves with alcohol is much easier, and is the trap that we must all avoid in order to experience a much grander journey to illustratious destinations.

4. “Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.”

My biggest pet peeve would have to be complainers. I know this sounds like complaining, but it breaks my heart to see people blinded to the beauty of life by putting all their focus on the negativity. Life has good stuff and bad stuff, and whatever we think about expands.

Part of our test, the one where passing leads us to a more fruitful existence, is becoming conscious of ourselves and of our self-talk. By concentrating on the positives, and letting the negatives hang by the way-side we are effectively making our overall experience and perception of life more positive. This is all done without actually changing what the rest of the world is like.

5. “Each one of you has something no one else has, or has ever had: your fingerprints, your brain, your heart. Be an individual. Be unique. Stand out. Make noise. Make someone notice. That’s the power of individuals.”

On one hand, the one that looks at the grand scheme of things, we are nothing. Nothing compared to God and the vastness of the universe. On the other hand, we are just a part of a collective of people who are very much the same, and want similar things out of life.

That’s why we have to stop looking at those hands, and create a universe where we can function in the collective, but do so with style and flare so that we may stand out and leave a legacy.

6. “Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.”

Jon’s life was not written in stone, it was flexible and took many unexpected twists and turns. This makes him just like us. His ability to be spontaneous and comprise made his life more exciting.

While there is great merit to being a stand for what you want to do, and have an unshakeable commitment to a cause, there are many paths that will lead to that goal, some more fun than others. It’s your life, take the scenic view.

7. “The only enemy is ignorance.”

This comes out of you from nowhere, just when you thought ignorance was bliss. The truth is that it’s not a sin to be ignorant, but it is a sin to remain ignorant. Being closed off, and uneducated will lead one to live a shallow life where nothing more than carnal pleasures exist. That’s what Hitler’s goal was for every person in the world, to be nothing more than an animal.

By being open minded to any possibility, reading, learning, and fully experiencing life from all angles we are allowing ourselves to grow. We are allowing ourselves to make a positive influence on our neighbors and on shaping and changing the world.

Go ahead and study the great, successful, and happy men of history. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel and there’s a good chance that anything you could come up with has already been thought of before. Use their knowledge to take your life experiences to the highest level.


This article is contributed by Alex Shalman, a freelance writer with degrees in Psychology (BA) and Biomedical Science (MS). Alex writes passionately and extensively about Personal Development at while making his way through further studies.

42 Responses to Invaluable Life Lessons from Bon Jovi (That Don’t Involve Living on a Prayer)

  1. Robert O'Shaughnessy says:

    Great all round article. Bon Jovi, what a legend!

  2. Natural says:

    I agree with no. 7 and I tell people all the time, the library is open 7 days a week. Like you said there’s no shame in being ignorant, but there is shame in staying there. The opportunities in this country is just too many for an excuse. Success doesn’t come to the lazy.

  3. Alex Fayle says:

    This is one of those “perfect” posts to which I can only say: Hear! Hear!

  4. Alex Shalman says:

    I’m glad you guys are enjoying the Bon Jovi article. He really is full of wisdom, so he was a pleasure to write about.

  5. Bob says:

    Great post! I love it. Yes, I agree with every one of these. I must confess, till now the only thing I knew about Bon Jovi was what I listen to on my ipod. You’ve whetted my appetite to find out more now.
    Funnily enough, I just posted about passion on my blog the other day there. I do think it’s a key. (

  6. To the author of this post, Alex:

    I must give you some credit for an inspiring and mostly useful post but I must also shine light on some statements that, at a minimum, may be misleading…

    You state, “I know for a fact that it is Jon’s out look on life that brought him every ounce of success that came his way.” You “know for a fact?” Do you really know that it was “every ounce?” What supporting evidence do you have? What about all of his co-writers, studio musicians, live musicians, music publisher, producers, managers, and record label? What about his parents? What about his wife?

    I worked at PolyGram Music Publishing (now MCA Universal), where Bon Jovi wrote and co-wrote with some of our house writers. I can tell you from this small experience of mine that Bon Jovi does have good looks, good business sense and a good “outlook on life,” but he vastly falls short in song-writing and musicianship compared to those who helped him achieve “every ounce” of his success…

    Also, you state, “Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.” How does one truly know who they want to be without first knowing who they are? Your statement would be more true if it were stated completely the opposite: “DO get comfortable with who you are or you will not KNOW who you want to be…”

    You state, “Be an individual. Be unique. Stand out. Make noise. Make someone notice. That’s the power of individuals.” I humbly submit that this is the weakness of individuals — not the power. As some of the greatest thinkers in history argued (Lau-tzu, Buddha, Hegel, others), NON-being is the key to well-being and contentment. Trying to “be somebody” is hyper-intentional and pretentious — it actually is a distraction and impediment to our true self. Being “nobody” removes this pretense and promotes contentment, which promotes well-being. We are already “unique” so there is no need to prove it to others…

    There are other points that are misleading and others that are quite useful. My intention here is not to take away from the post but to add to it by offering a different perspective…

    Thanks for the post…


    Kent (The Financial Philosopher)

  7. Awareness says:

    What I became confused about reading it, and was confirmed by the philosophers comment is whether these are Jon’s life lessons, or Alex’s that he is projecting on to Jon’s. What relates these lessons to Jon’s life except Alex’s opinion? Did he read his autobiography that he took them from. Is Jon a child hood friend? There’s no connection.

  8. Ari Koinuma says:

    I no longer enjoy his music, but I do respect Jon Bon Jovi — not just for all the success, but for the fact that he’s stayed married while achieving all the success.

    To Kent and Awareness — I didn’t have a trouble seeing that this post was about how Alex interpreted JBJ’s words and life. I personally had less expectation of the factual nature of the post, and more on drawing lessons.


  9. ari:

    I will agree that the post does have potential, as you say, for “drawing lessons.”

    The problem is that our reality can be distorted by our perception. For example, you say you “respect” Jon Bon Jovi for remaining married. What do you know about his marriage? Has he remained faithful? Is it a happy marriage? If you do not know, then you are putting forth your perception…

    In addition, I would say that this post’s greatest point is the final one: “The only enemy is ignorance.”

    I will add that the true ignorance is being unaware of our ignorance. If we pretend to know what we do not know, we are being ignorant (or deceptive). Being aware of our own ignorance is the definition of wisdom…

    “The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ~ Shakespeare

    Once again, I am attempting to open eyes to the truth and certainly do not wish to cause animosity or pretend to know more than anyone else.

    I am simply making observations…

    Cheers to all…

    Kent (The Financial Philosopher)

  10. Barbara says:

    I love this post. Bon jovi clearly has a lot to offer that we perhaps hardly think about. One of his messages seems to be that the future is what we make of it. Well, let’s get started :).

  11. I enjoyed the post. #4 is my pet peeve also. People would be so much happier, if they could focus on the good of every situation, and stop complaining/whining all the time.

  12. Philosopher,

    You stated “Do you really know that it was “every ounce?” What supporting evidence do you have? What about all of his co-writers, studio musicians, live musicians, music publisher, producers, managers, and record label? What about his parents? What about his wife?”

    Wouldn’t you say everyone is responsible for his/her own success? Possibly he couldn’t write, but he’s the one that found the writers to write – I’m sure he got support from his parents/wife etc, but having support doesn’t make you successful.

    Any successful person is successful because they took the action neccessary. They found the people with the skills they lacked in order to achieve their personal goals.

    I believe NO one can make or break another person.

  13. Philosopher,

    RE: you statment
    You state, “I know for a fact that it is Jon’s out look on life that brought him every ounce of success that came his way.” You “know for a fact?” Do you really know that it was “every ounce?” What supporting evidence do you have? What about all of his co-writers, studio musicians, live musicians, music publisher, producers, managers, and record label? What about his parents? What about his wife? – –

    Wouldn’t you say any successful person is there only because of the actions they took to get there? They were intelligent enough to find people with the skills they lacked. They counted on their loved ones for support?

    Regardless of how much support and wisdom one has they can not achieve success without taking action on things that are within their control.

    Personally I would say that “every ounce of success” any person has is based on their own determination, action and outlook on life.

  14. Ari Koinuma says:


    I do get your concern for distortion. However, let me offer a counter-argument, in the spirit of a healthy discussion.

    Let’s say we’re discussing the capacity of a chair to hold weight placed on it. We can gauge its strength from its material, construction, craftsmanship. We can discuss laws of physics, gravity, and how the chair’s design takes advantage of it.

    But most of the time, we don’t. We see a chair standing, and if it appears to be made of decent material, we jump to the conclusion that it is safe to sit on it. Well, maybe one of us won’t — if you have been injured by a chair breaking beneath you, then you learn to be cautious. But otherwise, I think it is expected for one to interpret the strength of the chair without knowing everything there is to know about it.

    True, I don’t know JBJ personally. I’m not even a loyal fan. But the fact remains: he is married to his first wife, and it has lasted over a decade. I have also seen interviews on him and he appears to be honest, smart and decent guy. It may be an abusive relationship. There may have been an infidelity. I don’t know, but they have stayed married and he appears honest enough to me, so I am jumping to conclusions. There is a risk involved in this: that I may be wrong. They may divorce tomorrow, citing physical or emotional abuse. But we all take those risks, and we must, for we cannot possibly know everything about everything on which we have to form an opinion.

    That’s all any of us can do. If we insist on complete and thorough knowledge of every issue, none of us can form political opinions, for example. It’s true that we need to always strive to identify and improve upon our ignorance — to make informed decisions. But still, the truth remains — we can’t always know all there is to know, and we’re interpreting facts based on only what we know, and our own interpretation is undoubtedly colored by our own life experience.

    So, everything is interpretation, and most are done without completely eradicating ignorance. I agree with you that it’s a distortion. It may even be unjust. But one thing is that I am aware that everything is interpretation. Perhaps that is the point you were trying to make. Regardless, I am choosing to accept this, with its risks and all, as a part of life.


  15. ari and Alex:

    I believe we agree more than we disagree. Once again, I am simply making observations. I agree with ari that there are no absolutes and that “everything is interpretation.”

    Since I manage investment assets for a living, I am quite aware of the distortion of perception. For example, the average investor perceives risk as highest when “real risk” is lowest and perceives risk to be lowest when real risk is highest, which would tempt them to “buy high” and “sell low” rather than the opposite, or even better, to be a passive investor.

    This is where self-awareness is so important and the typical modern “self-help” movement is potentially harmful.

    I also agree with Alex that an individual, while certainly assisted by others, is responsible for their own successes and failures. Depending upon our definition of “success,” it is simply my belief and personal observation that people will fail more often without self-awareness.

    I imagine Jon Bon Jovi, for example, is quite aware of himself.

    Thanks for the discussion and the thought provoking responses.

    I hope I have not distracted from, but added to, the post…



  16. Alex:

    I certainly do not want to be difficult but you state in your reply, “Possibly he couldn’t write, but he’s the one that found the writers to write.” In fact, I worked for the publishing company that represented Jon Bon Jovi as a writer and I can personally attest that several of his co-writers were hand chosen for him — not BY him.

    I will find common ground with you in that, ultimately, the individual is “the master of their own destiny;” however, to truly become “master,” the individual must have self-awareness, which I would imagine Jon Bon Jovi possessed.

    Thanks for provoking thought. I truly gained value out of the comments here today…


  17. Ari:

    Wow! Your reply to my comment is the most valuable and best-communicated comment I have read all day!

    I will only reply that I agree with your wisdom that “everything is interpretation.”

    Well said…


  18. RaAr says:

    Discusing about some one succuss & achivement realy inspires us to move towards succuss but we have to take that things how it apply to our situations & conditions, there may be rules which successfull person followed & that we have to turn towards in our way. No one succussed at first instant, they fail many times but they used that failure into steping stone & from that they rised in that way.

  19. CV says:

    Hi Alex– Your post is pretty intriguing to me, because my parents live ‘just one town over’ from JBJ and I also have an ‘admiration-dismissal’ reaction to JBJ similar to some of your readers….
    I personally am not that into his music (never have been) b/c it’s a bit cheesy, a bit too “Jersey”, a bit too anthemic. But at the same time, the guy has his values and seems to live them (first wife, support of community & causes, a Democrat, etc.).
    It can be hard sometimes to take advice from– or even see the wisdom accrued by– a person whose public aesthetic isn’t particularly appealing to you. Sometimes a post like yours helps… it slows us down, points out a few things, gives some examples, and viola a little insight from a place/person we wouldn’t have paid attention to before. So thanks for that. Next time I’m cruising down the Navesink with my dad, I’ll bring this post up!
    Two questions–
    Where did your quotes come from? Did you summarize them from an article about JBJ, take them from an interview, or see them on a fan site?
    — Did you send JBJ a copy of the post? I bet his kids would like it.
    cheers- cvh

  20. Chompa says:

    That honestly was one of the best motivational articles I’ve read. Sadly, some people decided to ignore point #4 and nitpick it, but for me – this is golden. Thanks.

  21. Open Heart says:

    I’m really impressed! Who would have thought… Bon Jovi…
    Loved and fully agreed the points about passion and also mapping life out in pencil!
    Really nice and surprising post!

  22. Fabulous article. Wonderful reminders of the preciousness of our lives. I always smile when I think of Jon Bon Jovi (who is so likeable) because I once heard him say how his wife of many years always kept him grounded by saying things as, “Hey Rock Star, take out the trash.” Don’t you love it.
    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

  23. “Change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.” This is so true. I think that often we assume that a miracle is some grandiose event but many are small miracles that happen daily if we choose to see them.

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  25. Thanks for the article,

    Where are the quotes from?

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  27. They were from Oprah’s show when she interviewed him!

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  32. Hey Guys,

    Creative people listen to a different drum beat. If you are a creative personality I’m preaching to the choir. If you are not, I don’t mean to be mean, but it will be hard for you to understand. That’s just the way that it is.

    Be your best self, make every day matter, be kind, conscious and especially be honest with yourself first and others second.

    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

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