In practical terms, Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is the story of Julian Mantle, a wildly successful attorney who suffers a massive heart attack in the courtroom due to his heavily unbalanced lifestyle. Recovered, but facing a physical and spiritual crisis, Julian travels East in search of answers to easing the nagging sense that his life is somewhat lacking. Several years later, upon his successful return, Julian shares his findings with another lawyer, destined for the same fate as he once experienced, to teach him the error of his ways. That’s in practical terms.
In reality, it’s a book about passion. About imagination and dreaming. It’s a book to remind you of what it was like to be a child filled with limitless potential and wonder. Sharma uses terms like “rusty soul” and “Kaizan” – the Japanese concept of constant and never ending improvement to make us aware of our actions, and how they affect our long term happiness and achievements. Ultimately though, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a book about getting the most from every second of every day – appreciating what you have now, while you work to achieve all that you desire.
Sharma effortlessly blends fiction with a step-by-step guide to creating a life of balance, a life of purpose, and a life in full appreciation of the moment, while teaching how to appreciate everything that right now has to offer. I won’t begin to pretend that I can wrap every valuable detail from this book into one thought, but if I had to pick one gem that stood out as the most impactful, it would be:
“… saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you’re too busy driving. Eventually it will catch up with you.”
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, page 59
The Big Idea
Take the time for a mental refuelling
With this analogy, Sharma makes us aware of how foolish it is to put off activities that will improve our health (mental, physical or spiritual) or our sense of balance. It’s a fact that for the vast majority of us, attitude runs our lives. How we respond to the world, what activities we choose to undertake, even how tired or energized we feel is directly tied to our current attitudes. And unlike some would like to believe, our attitudes are completely within our mental control. There are a few quick, key tips that can help you stay enthusiastic, energetic, and able to bounce back from disappointment.
Even ten minutes of focused reflection a day will have a profound impact on the quality of your life.
Take the time, in the morning if possible, to stop what you’re doing and think. Not in the shower, not in the car, not as you check messages, just… sit. Sit and think. That’s it. What you think about is really up to you. Some people use the time to mentally run through the day ahead, like an athlete before a big event. Others use the time to plan; to mentally schedule their day. I use it mostly to dream. I dream about what I want this day to be, what I want my life to mean, what sort of a difference I want to make. What you think about is up to you, but I recommend you spend it focused on what gets you excited. Not everyone bounds out of bed, excited every morning about life and ready to take on the world. In fact, few of us do. But if, and it is a big IF, you carve out that little bit of time for yourself to focus on what it is that makes you excited in life, you’ll find that amazing things start happening. You might get that little tugging in your chest that hints at passion. Your mind might start running faster, and on its own volition. You might even smile. Amazing things can happen when you take the time to just…. think.
“Self Knowledge is the stepping stone to self mastery”
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, page 63
Everyone has bad days. Everyone has mornings where they wake up on the wrong side the bed… late for work. What separates the greats from the average is what they do when they find themselves in that state. Those who are great acknowledge the bad day, the bad attitude. They force themselves to consciously recognize the fact that they are in a bad mood and make the choice to create a more positive attitude, right then and there. Nice thought, huh? It takes some time, and some practice. But it can be done. Robert Allen, in one of his tape series, suggests using imagery – for example, a giant red stop sign. Every time a negative image enters your head, flash up the giant red stop sign, and then replace the thought with a positive one. Another is to picture your thoughts as slides in a slide show. Your conscious brain, like a projection screen, can only hold one thought/image at a time. When a negative one enters the show, just flick the switch and replace it with a positive one. As strange as it may be to believe, you can actually train your mind to filter out unwanted, non-beneficial thoughts. Powerful concept.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a great book; full of humour and wit, as practical as it is inspiring. I have no doubt I will be revisiting this book in the months to come, but in the meantime do yourself a favour and pick up a copy, it’s the best $19 you can spend on yourself. And if you really need any other reason to buy it, Sharma’s a Canadian. So there you go.