Review: The Monk who sold his Ferrari

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This inspirational book came into my life when I was exploring the duty free shops in the airport of San Jose, Costa Rica. I had spent a relaxing two weeks travelling a small section of the country and was cruising the isles of the (over-priced) gift shops to find something to take home.

This book captured my attention as I had spent the last week of my trip focused on how I would follow my aspirations to become a professional writer. The tagline of the book stood out to me immediately; “A fable about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny”. Once I had picked it up, I struggled to put it down. Lovingly, knowing how much I really wanted to chase my long-held dreams, Paul bought me the book as a gift and I became the proud owner of “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”, by Robin S. Sharma.

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I had not read a fable before; I had started The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho but for some reason, I still haven’t committed to finishing it. As I sat on the plane, ready to embark on the 11 hour journey home, I was immediately captivated by the story.

“Act as if failure is impossible, and your success will be assured. Wipe out every thought of not achieving your objectives, whether they are material or spiritual. Be brave, and set no limits on the workings of your imagination. Never be a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future. You will never be the same”.

The fable begins with Julian Mantle collapsing in the court of law from a heart attack. The story is told from the perspective of a lawyer named John who has worked alongside him for seventeen years and is probably the only friend Julian has left. Julian is described as one of the country’s most distinguished trial lawyers who over time has become so consumed with success, money and an unhealthy drive for perfection that he was finally brought to his knees in the courtroom, when his body decided it could take no more.

The book takes you through a journey of how this heart attack made him face the reality of what his life had become. He had become sick and tired and aged beyond his years. He was emotionally, physically and spiritually drained and after years and years spent over-working, over-eating and drinking far too much, his body finally decided enough was enough and intervened.

“At fifty-three years of age, Julian looked as if he was in his late seventies. His face was a mass of wrinkles, a less than glorious tribute to his “take no prisoners” approach to life in general and the tremendous stress of his out-of-balance lifestyle…”

Julian survives his heart attack and abruptly leaves the world he has spent many years building, without a trace: “No one had received even a postcard from him since he left for his self-imposed exile from the law”. Three years pass and then John gets an unexpected visitor. This visitor is a lean and strong man, “radiating an abundance of vitality and energy”. We quickly learn that it is Julian and he has come back from his exile to share, with John, the secrets of life, inner harmony and peace learnt during his time with The Great Sages of Sivana.

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You learn that three years ago, Julian undertook a pilgrimage to The Nirvana of Sivana and spent many years with Yogi Raman, a Sage who taught him ancient principles “that anyone could use to live longer, stay younger and grow far happier.”

“Julian also learned how the twin disciplines of personal mastery and self-responsibility would keep him from returning to the chaos of crisis that had characterised his life in the West.”

This fable is a fantastic vehicle for teaching the reader invaluable lessons about how to improve the quality of their life. It is a known psychological fact that story-telling is one of the most powerful ways to activate the brain while learning; if you want your listener/reader to remember something – paint a story. This fable teaches the reader invaluable morals, techniques and behavioural practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to change the way you think; and it does so in a way that embeds the messages into your memory effortlessly. It is an inspiring story that drives you to want to be the best version of yourself.

“Most people live – whether physically, intellectually or morally – in a very restricted circle of their potential being. We all have reservoirs of life to draw upon of which we do not dream.”

Each chapter begins with a quote that captures the message of the chapter and from chapter 7 onwards (when the lessons really start rolling in), each chapter ends with an “Action Summary – Julian’s Wisdom in a Nutshell”. Each action summary is broken down into 5 sections: The Symbol, The Virtue, The Wisdom, The Techniques and a Quotable Quote.  These are very useful to summarise the main techniques and learnings in each chapter, and this also helps to ensure you haven’t missed a vital lesson.

There are so many techniques in this book, so many invaluable lessons that I would like to share with you; but as usual, I will cover just a few in the hope that this blog post encourages you to purchase your own copy of this invigorating book. In my recent blog post ‘Opposition Thinking: The Master of your Mind‘, I discussed a key technique from this book called Opposition Thinking. I will not cover it again here, but I would recommend checking out that post.

Five Step Method

Julian discusses a five step method to reach your desired goals and fulfil the purpose of your life. He walks John through the simple but practical steps to help anyone start their journey towards any goal. You too can apply these to your life today. I have summarised these below.

  1. Form a clear mental image of the outcome: Every morning when you awake, picture your goal as if you have already achieved it. Tip: Visualise this in detail; use all your senses – this is the method of actualisation.
  2. Positive pressure: Apply positive pressure on yourself. Train your brain to associate pleasure with good habits, and punishment with bad. Tip: Apply pressure with a public pledge or simply by telling your spouse. Either way; having someone to hold you accountable makes all the difference.
  3. Never set a goal without a timeline: To breathe life into a goal, you must attach a precise deadline to it and commit it to paper. Tip: Create a dream book.
  4. The magic rule of 21: For new behaviours to crystallise into a habit, you must perform the new activity for 21 days in a row. It takes only 3 weeks to form a new habit… consistency over 3 weeks could change your life as you know it. Tip: Don’t try to install too many new habits at once, take one at a time – imbed and repeat.
  5. Have Fun: Remain spirited, joyful and curious. Stay focused on your life work and giving selflessly to others. Have fun while advancing along the path of your goals. Tip: Apply the mind set – ‘I just want to see what I can get away with’. You don’t think you can achieve 100 blog followers in 3 months? Just try it; have fun chasing your goal and stay curious about just how much you can do. Push your limitations – why not just try and see what you can achieve?

The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living

A huge section of the book discusses The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living. These are rituals that Julian explains to be behaviour and habits that you should practice every day for the rest of your life, in order to live the life you desire. There are far too many to discuss in this blog (I have already written far more than planned); but they include life lessons about the importance of solitude in your daily schedule, the importance of movement and exercise, the importance of personal reflection and the importance of lifelong learning. These are just a few of the ten wonderful rituals which will improve your life.

I cannot recommend this book enough – it is worth reading and trying to incorporate these rituals into your daily life.

Self-Imposed Limitations

The book promotes the development of a heightened sense of self-awareness in order to understand your purpose and abilities, and it teaches that self-improvement and self-mastery is the best thing you can do for yourself. Improving your inner world enables you to do anything you want in your outer world. A lesson within this book that really stuck with me was gleaned from a practical illustration that Julian used to make a point to John. Julian begins by getting John, an incredibly unfit and overweight lawyer, to assume the push-up position. He asks that John complete as many push-ups as he can possibly do. At 23 push-ups, John gives up, crying out: “No more, Julian. This is killing me.” At this point, Julian questions whether this is his limit and commands him to do ten more before he can rest.

As you can guess, John achieves 10 more push-ups. From this, Julian explains:

“… People grow the most when they enter the Zone of the Unknown. (…) You told me after you had done twenty-three that you couldn’t do any more. You told me that this was your absolute limit. Yet, when I challenged you to do more, you responded with another ten push-ups. You had more inside of you and when you reached for your resources, you received more.”

And from this illustration, Julian made an incredible powerful point: “The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself.”

“When you dare to get out of your circle of comfort and explore the unknown, you step towards self-mastery and mastery over every other circumstance in your life. When you push beyond your limits (…), you unlock mental and physical reserves that you never thought you had.”

I tried this on Paul and experienced the same outcome; he was able to tap into unknown reserves.

This works: try it with someone today.

Prove to yourself, and others, that the limits in life are imposed by you, and you alone.

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You have 168 Hours

I will leave you on a final, but incredibly profound message that I gleaned from one of the ten rituals discussed briefly above. If you only take one thing from this blog, let it be a reminder that we have 168 hours in a week.

Take a second and really reflect upon that; where do you spend those 168 hours? How many hours do you lose every day on Social Media? How many hours to you spend procrastinating or debating with yourself about what you want to do… or what you don’t want to do?

Break your week down into hours and then reflect upon how you can utilise your time more efficiently. There will be mandatory activities in your day that you will need to do, such as sleeping, eating, working and washing – but where do the remaining hours go?

I spend a maximum of 49 hours asleep a week, 40 hours at work, about 14 hours preparing food / eating and 7 hours a week washing and getting ready. This is a mere total of 110 hours of mandatory activities a week. Yes, I also drive for about 8 hours a week – but I have begun utilising those hours to increase my knowledge through audio books. So… where do the remaining 50 hours go? That’s over 7 hours a day.  Do the same for yourself – how do you choose to spend your 168 hours?

Utilise your time – it is a gift.

Your life is made up moments and this is the only gift you cannot replace.

So, what are you waiting for? Make the most of every moment.

So, that’s it folks. I hope you garnered some valuable inspiration from my review of The Monk who sold his Ferrari. This review can only cover so much, therefore if the book sounds like something you’d enjoy; invest in a copy now. It really is worth a read and well worth your time.

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