Thou Shall Prosper

"Step one in the process of increasing your income is to begin wrapping yourself around these two related notions: 1) You are in business and 2) the occupation of business is moral, noble, and worthy."

- Thou Shall Prosper, page 19

How much would the wisdom of men from thousands of years ago, when Apple meant an apple, teach us about current business practices?  It turns out, very much.  Thus is the case of Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.  Rabbi Lapin is a bi-vocational Rabbi, meaning he not only leads his congregation but also engages full throttle in the world of commerce and business.  The concepts that he teaches are based off of ancient Jewish tradition and culture.

Rabbi Lapin’s language is clear, straightforward, and challenging from the moment you pick up his hearty discourse.  Below are his 10 Commandments for Making Money:

1. Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business
2. Extend the Network of your Connectedness to Many People
3. Get to Know Yourself
4. DO NOT Pursue Perfection
5. Lead Consistently and Constantly
6. Constantly Change the Changeable, While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable
7. Learn to Foretell the Future
8. Know Your Money
9. Act Rich: Give away 10% of your After-Tax Income
10. Never Retire


The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Buy In to Yourself

"For better or worse, humans are holistic.  Even the human body does best when its spiritual and physical sides are synchronized... People's bodies perform best when their brains are on board with the program... Helping your mind to believe what you do is good, noble, and worthwhile in itself helps to fuel your energies and propel your efforts."
- Thou Shall Prosper, page 22

As you think about business, and the people involved in it, what immediate thoughts come to your mind?  Take your time, and while you’re thinking, ponder this: If you watch popular TV shows or movies, who are most often the bad guys in the films?  Business people.  A strange shift has been taking place in our culture, Rabbi Lapin points out, where what was once a noble and honorable way to go out and earn a living (picture Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life—he was a BANKER!) is now seen as a scummy cesspool filled with deplorable men and women.  And honestly, not much could be further from the truth.

As Rabbi Lapin walks the reader through each Commandment, the common theme he brings up in each is that our mindset on our business, and how we all earn a living, plays a significant role in how much our income is.  You need to, from a spiritual, mental, and physical level, have your “whole self” on board and bought in to the concept that commerce is good and your profession is noble before you can hope to achieve success.  Once you have this buy in, you begin to push yourself into new areas that before had mentally been unavailable to you.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Prayer, Faith, and Focus

"If facts are all you master, then you will always be valuable to the leaders, but you are not destined to become a leader yourself… When I use the word FAITH, I mean the ability to work as comfortably with something yet invisible as if it were already a present reality.  You alone see the desired outcome in front of your eyes, as plainly as if it were already a reality."
- Thou Shall Prosper

Faith is, as the Rabbit stated, belief in the intangible and unknown.  We never have complete grasp of all our circumstances; the times, people, and dynamics in any encounter are often changing faster than we can count.  However, when one has faith, you are able to take that step off the edge and jump into the pool with a mindset focused on your objective.

Prayer is one way that Lapin suggests taking this step out in faith.  Not only does he recommend prayer, he recommends stating it audibly for you to hear what your voice is asking for.  Going back to our point of being holistic in the The Big Idea, this allows your physical voice to capture the thoughts of success much differently than if you had just let the synapses fire across your brain in thought.  The physical act of moving your mouth, speaking the words, and basking in your faith as you step into the new unknown are something that require your mind, body, and soul to be united as one.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Sabbath: Stop the pouring

"The Sabbath - the effect is to create a tranquil oasis in time and space from which the future can be effectively contemplated.  For 25 hours each week, Jews are required to put aside all work related objects and activities.  They are to abstain from activating any form of technological machinery, such as cars, televisions, computers, or phones.  In fact, all devices that assist Jews in reaching out of themselves into the outer world and impacting it are off limits."
- Thou Shall Prosper, page 258

In our connected world, when was the last time you went more than 1 hour without a cell phone, laptop, tablet, e-reader, or other electronic device?  How about 15 minutes?  Today, you can tweet from the toilet, update your adventures to all your Facebook friends while with your real life friends, order a book from Amazon while driving down the highway. The list is endless.

With all this reaching out into the world we can easily slip into a pattern of not reaching inward to ourselves.  The Jewish recognition of the Sabbath represents a way to turn the tide on this electronic onslaught and refocus ourselves on what our minds are telling us.

Have you ever wondered why all these amazing ideas can occur to you when you’re in your shower?  With the rushing water (and hopefully no electronic devices near you…electric shock therapy will be covered in a later summary), your mind is free to access the deeper parts of itself.  And during this time, you can continue building upon the thoughts, prayers, and actions you are undertaking to step out in faith.

Give this a try this coming weekend, or even when you get home from work: Shut your phone off.  Lock it in your car if you have to, give it to a neighbor that has a huge dog and tell him you can’t get it back until a certain time period has gone by.  After a few minutes of detox, you may find new and amazing thoughts come to you that you would never have had had you not stopped pouring into your brain.

Beliefs shape one’s actions far more than facts do. What are you beliefs about business?  Is it moral and right to want to achieve, and to step out in faith for unknown adventures?

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Ben Wallis

ABOUT Ben Wallis

WHO ARE YOU? Ben Wallis: husband, new father, and salesman. WHAT DO YOU DO? I work for eShipping, a logistics technology company in the role of Business Development Manager...
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