Lessons from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

September 20th, 2011   •   no comments   

Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Are you tired of running the rat race? Wonder how you can better fulfill your life dreams and live more abundantly?

Part self help book, part fable, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by leadership guru Robin Sharma is a slim novel that packed powerful life and leadership lessons.

Written in a semi-autobiographical manner – Sharma himself was a hotshot lawyer before he switched paths to become a personal development life coach – the book borrowed ideas from religious leaders and spiritual thinkers throughout history.

In The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, we read the story of superstar lawyer Julian Mantle. Collapsing from a heart attack on the courtroom floor one day, his near-death experience resulted in a complete turnaround in his life.

From being an overworked and highly paid legal eagle, Mantle transformed into a sagely monk. Schooled in the Himalayas by the “Sages of Sivana”, the lawyer turned ascetic related various life lessons to his new apprentice John.

Shrouded in Eastern mysticism, Sharma’s lessons are embodied by the 7 Timeless Virtues of Enlightened Living. These are conveyed in a rather whimsical fashion in the form of a tale involving a beautiful garden, a towering lighthouse, a path of diamonds and a sumo wrestler, amongst others.

Let us go through each of these virtues.

1) Master Your Mind

The first life lesson is to cultivate your mind to focus and meditate, develop “opposition thinking” (ie replacing a negative thought with a positive one), wipe out your negative/burdensome worries and embrace a spirit of mindfulness.

I guess the key skill here is to “bracket” those negative thoughts and metaphorically “cast” them aside from your mind through the power of visualisation and meditative reflection.

2) Follow Your Purpose

The key idea here is for you to live a life of purpose and meaning. You can do so only if you establish clearly defined personal, professional and spiritual goals.

In the book, the author urged readers to have the courage to act on their life purposes and to do it as soon as possible. It is important here for you to focus you mind on what you seek to ultimately achieve, while shutting out all distracting and negative voices of detractors along your path.

3) Practice Kaizen

Borrowing from the Japanese concept of continuous improvement, kaizen comes from doing the very things which we fear, and practicing the 10 ancient rituals for radiant living.

These are solitude, physicality, live nourishment, abundant knowledge, personal reflection, early awakening, music, the spoken word (mantras), congruent character, and simplicity.

4) Live with Discipline

Represented by a pink wire coil, the notion of discipline entreats you to consistently perform small acts of courage, strengthen your will power, and develop the strength of self discipline.

5) Respect Your Time

Here, the concept of time as a precious commodity is emphasised.

We are told to focus on our priorities and to simplify our lives by embracing the Pareto principle (80/20 rule). It is also important for us to have the courage to say “NO” and to live as if each day is our last.

Steve Jobs said this very well with his famous quote:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” – Steve Jobs

Courtesy of The Healthy Gurus

6) Selflessly Serve Others

Giving to the greater good is elaborated here.

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your contributions to the greater world. To achieve wholeness, you should practice daily acts of kindness, give generously, and focus on your relationships with others.

7) Embrace the Present

Perhaps the most memorable of the 7 lessons, the idea here is to savour the gift of the present and not to sacrifice happiness for achievement.

There are three techniques you can apply to fully embrace the present. They include living your children’s childhood, practicing gratitude and gently growing towards your destiny. It is also important for you to be fully present and engaged in whatever you do.

Be the Change You Wish to See

To strengthen these lessons, Sharma shared lots of little anecdotes to drive home certain points. These are heavily peppered with quotable quotes.

They include Mahatma Gandhi’s famous “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” and the author’s own “The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master“.

Personally, I found the book highly refreshing and inspirational. Although it was published way back in 1997, its lessons still ring true in this day and age, especially with its global uncertainties and the frantic pace of living in a continually digitally connected world.

Robin Sharma is still active in the personal development and leadership space. You can follow his teachings on his blog. I have already started practicing some of its principles and hope to embrace more of its tenets on living (and working) more effectively.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Courtesy of Anand Kumar Jha

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