The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari Summary And Analysis

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma is one of the most profound books that I have ever read. This article will give you a brief summary of the book, and will have an in-depth analysis of the contents of the book.

Brief Synopsis Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The vast majority of the book is a dialogue between characters named Julian Mantel and John, the narrator. The narrator’s last name is never mentioned in this book. Both John and Julian worked at the same law firm together, somewhere in America presumably, though the exact location is never mentioned.

Both John and Julian studied at Harvard Law School. Julian was a high-powered, distinguished trial attorney who was also one of the top lawyers their law firm, and he was extremely successful.

Julian was able to get basically whatever he wanted: a great income, nice houses, was able to date beautiful women, and even had his own private jet. And his most prized possession of all was his Ferrari.

The story starts out when Julian, who’s a workaholic, collapses while having a heart attack at court, and then he is rushed to the hospital.

Julian was under near constant stress and was working himself to death.

After his heart attack, Julian then decides to radically change his life after being given an ultimatum by his doctor: either give up his law career or his career and lifestyle would eventually kill him. From the hospital, it was announced that Julian was quitting his law career.

Then, Julian then seemingly fell off the face of the Earth. Three years go by, and nobody knew where Julian went.

Julian’s Return To America

Three years later, Julian mysteriously returns to America and is completely transformed from the former person he was. His physical appearance is greatly improved, almost miraculously better, and similarly his mind and attitude on life are far better. While working as a lawyer, the constant stress in his life took a major toll on his physical and mental health. But after he came back from India, Julian returned a transformed man. Of Julian, John says, “Gone was the elderly appearance and the morbid expression that had become his personal trademark. Instead, the man in front of me appeared to be in peak health, his lineless face glowing radiantly.”

Julian came back to America to teach John, and later others, the wisdom he had learned in India from some great sages, hoping that John and others could later spread that wisdom.

After his heart attack, Julian realizes that the life he was living was without meaning, and so he basically sells everything he has, including his prized Ferrari.

Julian’s Visit To John’s Office

Julian unexpectedly, and mysteriously, shows up to meet John at his law office one day. In fact, he insists on meeting with John to the receptionist, but he doesn’t say who he is. Finally, John agrees to meet the unknown person, and was amazed to find it out it was his old friend Julian.

Julian goes on to explain what he had done and where he went. It turns out that he went to India and went on a spiritual journey.

Later, Julian meets with John at his home, and for many hours teaches John what in the story we learn as wisdom from the Sages of Sivana in India.

Julian’s Quest For Enlightenment

As Julian recounts his journey to John, he talks about his travels to India and how he eventually ends up in Kashmir, next to the Himalaya Mountains. He meets a man named Yogi Krishnan who for a short time becomes a kind of mentor to Julian. Yogi Krishnan also happened to be a great trial lawyer earlier in his life. Among other things, Yogi Krishnan tells Julian, “I have realized that failure, whether of the personal, professional or even spiritual kind, is essential to personal expansion. It brings inner growth and a whole host of psychic rewards. Never regret your past. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.”

Yogi Krishnan then tells Julian about some mysterious, mystical monks who “have discovered some sort of system that will profoundly improve the quality of anyone’s life“. The monks are called the Sages of Sivana.

Finding And Living With The Sages Of Sivana

Sadly, Yogi Raman doesn’t know where the Sages of Sivana are, so Julian goes on a quest to find the monks.

Although the group was very difficult to find, and many had failed to find them before, somehow Julian amazingly finds one of the monks who then introduces Julian to the rest of his group. The monks take in Julian for a few months, and teach them their wisdom and ways. The mysterious monk later who Julian first met reveals himself to be named Yogi Raman who is the eldest and leader of the Sages of Sivana.

Yogi Raman would go on to teach Julian much of what he then goes on to teach John.

Julian is invited to live with the monks for a few months. Later, the monks’ only request of Julian was that he spread the wisdom that he had taught them, to the West and beyond.

Julian then becomes a monk himself , whose life purpose is to work on helping others and spreading the wisdom of the Sages of Sivana. So, Julian is the eponymous monk from the title of the book.

The Main Fable On Which Most Of The Book Is Based

The majority of the book contains wisdom which centers around the following fable from the book as told by Julian based on what Yogi Raman taught him. Do your best to really imagine it in your mind’s eye to get the maximum benefit. Later I will provide some images to help you in case you have difficulty visualizing the following fable.

“[Imagine] you are sitting in the middle of a magnificent, lush, green garden. This garden is filled with the most spectacular flowers you have ever seen. The environment is supremely tranquil and silent. Savor the sensual delights of this garden and feel as if you have all the time in the world to enjoy this natural oasis. As you look around you see that in the center of this magical garden stands a towering, red lighthouse, six stories high. Suddenly, the silence of the garden is disturbed by a loud creaking as the door at the base of the lighthouse opens. Out stumbles a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred-pound Japanese sumo wrestler who casually wanders into the center of the garden.

‘It gets better,’ chuckled Julian. ‘The Japanese sumo wrestler is naked! Well, actually he is not totally naked. He has a pink wire cable covering his private parts.’

As this sumo wrestler starts to move around the garden, he finds a shiny gold stopwatch which someone had left behind many years earlier. He slips it on, and falls to the ground with an enormous thud. The sumo wrestler is rendered unconscious and lies there, silent and still. Just when you think he has taken his last breath, the wrestler awakens, perhaps stirred by the fragrance of some fresh yellow roses blooming nearby. Energized, the wrestler jumps swiftly to his feet and intuitively looks to his left. He is startled at what he sees. Through the bushes at the very edge of the garden he observes a long winding path covered by millions of sparkling diamonds. Something seems to instruct the wrestler to take the path, and to his credit, he does. This path leads him down the road of everlasting joy and eternal bliss.”

In case you can’t visualize the story in your head well, I have found some images that may be able to help you below.

A Beautiful Garden

A beautiful garden
A beautiful garden

A Lighthouse

A lighthouse
A lighthouse

A Sumo Wrestler

A Sumo Wrestler. Image via Wikipedia.org

A Wire cable

A wire cable
A wire cable. Notice how it is made up of many smaller wires.

A Gold Stopwatch

A gold stopwatch
A gold stopwatch. Image via Wikipedia.org

Yellow roses

A beautiful yellow rose
A beautiful yellow rose

Path Of Diamonds

A beautiful path
A beautiful path

Diamonds

Some diamonds
Some diamonds

The 7 key elements in that fable to focus on, which most of the book depends on are:

  1. The beautiful garden
  2. The lighthouse
  3. The sumo wrestler
  4. The pink wire covering the sumo wrestler
  5. The gold stopwatch
  6. The yellow roses
  7. The path of sparkling diamonds

Each of the 7 elements aforementioned are one of the seven basic virtues of the Sivanan System. Later, one chapter in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is devoted per virtue where Julian teaches John about each of the virtues.

The crux of Yogi Raman’s teachings are based the previous fable which contains the most important aspects of the Sages of Sivana’s wisdom. The fable happens to use memory pegs which makes the story easier to remember.


The 7 Virtues Of The Sages Of Sivana

Below are what each of the different parts of fable represent:

  1. The beautiful garden represents your mind
  2. The lighthouse represents goals and purpose
  3. The sumo wrestler represents kaizen which means constant self-improvement
  4. The pink wire covering the sumo wrestler represents discipline and willpower
  5. The gold stopwatch represents respecting your time.
  6. The yellow roses represent selflessly serve others
  7. The path of diamonds represent living in the moment and to some extend, enlightenment

The Mind As A Beautiful Garden

From the aforementioned fable, the beautiful garden symbolizes your mind. The mind, which is the first part of the fable, really is like a precious, beautiful garden.

In fact, literally everything about how you are as a person comes from your mind and brain; your thoughts, emotions, habits, actions, behavior, personality etc all come from your mind and brain. In fact, your destiny whether good or bad, in a very large way, is determined by how good and healthy your brain is. For more on this, I recommend reading Dr. Amen’s book called Use Your Brain To Change Your Age.

The chapter devoted to teaching about the mind is the longest in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and the most important in my opinion.

From now on, I will use the words brain and mind interchangeably in this article.

It’s been said by many different scientists and academics that the human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe.

SO much about your reality, success in nearly all aspects of life, and happiness is determined by your mind.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari gives us SO much wisdom about the mind, how to train it, and how to use it properly, but in this article I will only include what I feel is the most important, relevant, and useful knowledge.

Guard And Treat Your Mind Like You Would For Anything Precious – Control Your Thoughts

Would a loving gardener allow poison or contamination into his garden? NO! Such it is for your mind. Do the best you can to control your thoughts and prevent toxic and other kinds of negative thoughts from entering your mind so that they don’t negatively affect you.

You can also think of your mind like a precious jewel. Imagine a precious ruby, or the Crown Jewels.

Would a wise person who has such jewels just leave them completely unprotected against potential thieves? NO. You can think of “thieves” as toxic thoughts coming into your mind.

As it says in this book, “If you care for your mind, if you nurture it and if you cultivate it just like a fertile, rich garden, it will blossom far beyond your expectations. But if you let the weeds take root, lasting peace of mind and deep inner harmony will always elude you.”

The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life

Julian teaches, “Thoughts are vital, living things, little bundles of energy, if you will. Most people don’t give any thought to the nature of their thoughts and yet, the quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life. Thoughts are just as much a part of the material world as the lake you swim in or the street you walk on. Weak minds lead to weak actions. A strong, disciplined mind, which anyone can cultivate through daily practice, can achieve miracles. If you want to live life to the fullest, care for your thoughts as you would your most prized possessions. Work hard to remove all inner turbulence. The rewards will be abundant.”

Mental Mastery Comes From Conditioning

To be truly extraordinary, you must condition your mind. What really separates people who are successful or truly happy from those who are not is how they use and condition their minds.

Train Your Brain – DAILY

In order to have a good mind, and have mental mastery you MUST train your brain DAILY. In some ways, the brain is like a muscle. To make it smarter, stronger, and more resilient, you must train it often. If you don’t train continually train your brain and learn new things, it will atrophy like a muscle. Though mind training doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time every day.

Perceptions in life and external events

We can’t control the external events in our lives. But to a great extent we can control our reactions and interpretations of those events. For any given event, you can choose to interpret it positively, negatively, or neutrally. It is best to have a positive mindset, and to be an optimist as much as possible.

Only work on what you can control

We should only really work on things that which we can control. It is futile to try to work on things we can’t control. Thus, is there is no point worrying about things we can’t control. As Wayne Dyer once put it, “it makes no sense to worry about the things you have no control over, because if you have no control over them, it makes no sense to worry about them. And also, it makes no sense to worry about the things you do have control over, because if you have control over them, it makes no sense to worry about them. And there goes everything that it is possible to worry about. Either you have control or you don’t, and worry is just a waste of your precious, present moments.”

Be An Optimist

I have definitely been a pessimist for many years, if not most of my life. You don’t have to automatically prime your brain to assume the worst. You have a choice. Why not assume, from the beginning, that positive things are possible and many in fact WILL happen. Maybe you try and fail, but failure can be very helpful if you learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them.

Studies have shown that on average, optimists live longer and happier lives. See here and here for discussions on studies of optimism and lifespan.

One study called “Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being” done in Italy, had the following in the paper’s abstract: “A significant positive relation emerges between optimism and coping strategies focused on social support and emphasis on positive aspects of stressful situations. Through employment of specific coping strategies, optimism exerts an indirect influence also on the quality of life. There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists. Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.” Read that paper here.

Also another interesting study came up with the following conclusions about being an optimist:

  • Greater optimism predicts greater career success.
  • Greater optimism predicts better social relations.
  • Greater optimism predicts better health.
  • All these effects appear to reflect greater engagement in pursuit of desired goals.

Your Thoughts Control Your Life

On average, most people have several thousand thoughts per day. Either indirectly or directly, your thoughts control your life. But, thankfully, you can literally rewire your brain by first changing your thoughts.

Success Starts with the mind – your outer world reflects the state of your inner world

Julian teaches, “All success in life, whether material or spiritual, starts with that twelve-pound mass sitting between your shoulders. Or more specifically, with the thoughts that you put into your mind every second of every minute of every day. Your outer world reflects the state of your inner world. By controlling the thoughts that you think and the way you respond to the events of your life, you begin to control your destiny.”

The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master

If you know how to use your mind, it is a wonderful servant, but if you can’t control your mind, it will control you. Thus, you must take control of your mind. If you are impulsive, you will be a slave to your mind, but if you can control your impulses, you can truly harness the power of your mind towards whatever you want.

A key principle for mental mastery: concentration

Concentration is an absolute essential thing to have in order to control your mind. If you can learn to focus your mind like a laser beam, you can achieve a lot more. The power of the mind is magnified if you can concentrate intensely for long periods of time.

In fact, in order to become a master of anything you have to be able to devote many thousands of truly focused hours. K. Anders Ericsson is a famous psychologist who coined the term “deliberate practice”. Ericsson and 2 of his colleagues wrote a great paper called “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” which you can read here.

In order to actually get work done well, you need to be in a state of “deep work”. Cal Newport, who coined the term “deep work” defines it this way: “deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book called Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Practical techniques for training your mind

  1. The Heart of the Rose – This technique is similar to meditation. Essentially, with this technique, you have a fresh rose and you train yourself to only focus on the center of the rose. Distracting thoughts will pop up. Just notice those thoughts, and go back to staring at the rose.

With meditation you generally close your eyes, and just focus on your breath, tuning out all distractions. When distracting thoughts come in, you just acknowledge them in your mind, and go back to the meditation. 

With The Heart of the Rose or meditation, start out small. Maybe just start with 1 or 2 minutes to do the technique(s). Once you can consistently do the Heart Of the Rose or meditation for 1 or 2 minutes, continue adding time in following session. As you keep adding time in new sessions, your concentration and focus will increase. Adapt this technique as you like.

My Own Experience With Meditation

I usually meditate at least 20 minutes per day, but I originally started out small. I think I started out with 5 minutes or less to start, and slowly built my concentration power up.

I personally have found that meditating at least 10 minutes per day has really helped. I highly recommend you do either the Heart of the Rose or meditation daily.

  1. Opposition Thinking – The next technique for training your brain is called “Opposition Thinking”.  Essentially this is the active replacement of negative thoughts with positive ones. This will take work, but can have big benefits. You can’t allow negative thoughts to control you. Eventually, the negative thoughts will grow, like an embryo, and can consume you both mentally and physically.

This technique requires self-awareness. If a negative thought pops into your head try to kill it as quickly as possible. If you encounter a negative situation, know that you can interpret the situation in a positive or at least in a neutral way. Remember that your thinking ultimately affects your whole reality.

  1. The Secret Of The Lake (visualization) – This technique for training your brain gets its name from a monk from the Sages of Sivana who traveled to a beautiful lake to visualize how he really wanted his life to be. While this technique can be done outdoors and ideally next to a lake or the ocean, the technique can be done anywhere. Essentially it is all about visualization; specifically visualizing yourself accomplishing your goals and visualizing how you want yourself to be.

My Own Experience Visualizing

Since reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, I personally meditate and visualize nearly every day. The meditation helps to calm my mind among other things. Visualization helps me to actualize my future, constantly remind myself of my goals, and encourages me to work on my goals.

Visualization In All Aspects Of Life

Visualizing can also be useful in nearly all aspects of life. Many professional athletes visualize themselves competing before events. For example, Michael Phelps, one of the top swimming Olympians in history used visualization a lot while training. From a magazine article, according to Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman, “’For months before a race Michael gets into a relaxed state. He mentally rehearses for two hours a day in the pool. He sees himself winning. He smells the air, tastes the water, hears the sounds, sees the clock.’ Phelps takes visualization one step further. He sees himself from the outside, as a spectator in the stands. He sees himself overcoming obstacles, too. For example, what would he do if he fell further behind in a race than he intended? Phelps practices all potential scenarios.”

One thing which fascinates me about visualization is that the same part of the brain that processes visual information also processes visualization. Read Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert for more info on that.


The Light House Representing Purpose and Goals

The light house in the book’s main fable represents purpose and goals. Lighthouses directs ships to go in the proper directions and they help prevent accidents and shipwrecks.

From the book Julian teaches, “You will recall that in the middle of the garden stood a magnificent lighthouse. This symbol will remind you of yet another ancient principle for enlightened living: the purpose of life is a life of purpose. Those who are truly enlightened know what they want out of life, emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually. Clearly defined priorities and goals for every aspect of your life will serve a role similar to that played by a lighthouse, offering you guidance and refuge when the seas become rough. You see, John, anyone can revolutionize their lives once they revolutionize the direction in which they are moving.”

Have a Target (Know what you want)

In the The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Julian recalls a time when his teacher, Yogi Raman asked Julian to blindfold him, and then put a target somewhere on a tree. Yogi Raman is an expert archer, but when he tries to shoot the target on the tree while blindfolded, he misses.

The point of the story is to show that without a target (knowing what you want), you basically can never accomplish your purpose and probably will never be happy long term.

Real Source Of Happiness – Achievement Of Your Goals And Advancing In The Direction Of Your Life’s Purpose

I found this bit of wisdom quite interesting from the book: “‘Life is funny,’ observed Yogi Raman. ‘One would think that the less one worked the more one would have the chance to experience happiness. However, the real source of happiness can be stated in a word: achievement. Lasting happiness comes from steadily working to accomplish your goals and advancing confidently in the direction of your life’s purpose. This is the secret to kindling the inner fire that lurks within you.’”

Risks And Self-Discovery

Anything worth having in life will require risks to get or achieve. If you never take risks, you’ll never accomplish anything great. Your objective may anything: starting a new career, finally creating the company you’ve always dreamed of, or maybe asking out that girl or guy you’ve had a crush on for a while. All of those things are involve some kind of risk. But, in the end, the risks will be worth it. Even if you fail, you could use the failure as a learning opportunity.

Self-discovery also will require taking risks but is very good for you. As Julian puts it, “there is never a risk in discovering yourself and the mission of your life. Self-knowledge is the DNA of self-enlightenment. It is a very good, indeed essential thing.”

People Often Put Very Little Time Into Planning Their Goals – Make Goals And Strive Towards Them To Have A Better Life

Julian teaches, “People spend their whole lives dreaming of becoming happier, living with more vitality and having an abundance of passion. Yet they do not see the importance of taking even ten minutes a month to write out their goals and to think deeply about the meaning of their lives, their Dharma. Goal setting will make your life magnificent. Your world will become richer, more delightful and more magical.”

Set Goals To Improve Your Life

On goals, Yogi Raman teaches Julian, “Anyone who wishes to improve the quality of their inner as well as their outer worlds would do well to take out a piece of paper and start writing out their life aims. At the very moment that this is done, natural forces will come into play which start to transform these dreams into reality.”

Why Even Spend The Time Writing Down Goals —  Why Not Just Try To Remember Them?

This is a question that I have probably thought about for years. I’ve heard about goals so many times over the years, but never really thought about the actual power of writing down the goals. What’s so special about writing down goals? As the book teaches, the act of writing down your goals messages to your subconscious mind that the goals you are thinking about are very important. Also, writing down your goals can be a great way to motivate you. I have a good, very successful friend who often re-writes his goals daily.

Techniques for working on purpose and setting goals

  1. Self-reflection. Self-reflection can be really hard, but it is one of the best ways to discover your purpose. This may be one of the most difficult questions you have to answer in your life. But, to get you started, here are some useful questions to ask yourself: Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose? Whom do I love? Who loves me?
  2. A Five-step step method for planning and achieving your goals
    1. Have a clear vision of what you want and be able to visualize it– First, and most importantly, REALLY know what you want. This may be the most time consuming step of all. You need to really think about what you want. Once you have specifically decided what you want, write it down, and later create an image of your mind of what that is. It is generally best to be as specific as possible for what you want. You should visualize your goals daily to really burn them into your mind. In addition to visualizing your goals and yourself accomplishing them or simply reviewing your goals daily, it can be helpful to re-write your goals and/or read out loud your goals daily.
    2. Positive pressure Primarily this step uses carrots and sticks to keep yourself working on your goals. Publicly committing to your goals is a good way to motivate you to keep working on your goals. Additionally, as a stick, I personally like the idea of forcing yourself to pay a friend or family member money if you don’t finish your tasks for the day towards your goal. Stickk.com is a website where you have to pay some kind of self-imposed financial penalty to anyone or any organization of your choice you don’t complete your tasks for the day. Stickk.com was founded by an economics professor at Yale University and others. As stickk.com’s faq page says, “Studies show that financial incentives and accountability get people to do stuff.” You don’t have to use stickk.com, but  think it is a helpful tool to keep you working on a goal. Another idea is to do another kind of self-punishment if you don’t finish your self-imposed tasks for the day. For example, maybe you would not use social media for 1 day or longer, take only cold showers for a few days etc. It’s all up to you. Be as strict or as lenient with yourself as you want. The main point is to work on and accomplish your goals.
    3. Make a deadline for the goal – Deadlines will force action and attention towards a goal. I’ve found out the hard way that you can be very well intentioned with your goals, but other things in your life will always come up. Without a deadline, it is difficult to prioritize your goals.
    4. The Magic Rule of 21 – Basically this means that it usually takes about 21 days of doing something every day in order to turn it into a habit. Rituals can be very helpful in developing habits. If you want to learn more about habits, one of the best books I’ve ever read about habits is called The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
      For our purposes, a habit is a routine you do unthinkingly based first on a trigger and which then finally leads to a reward. You want to work on your goals so often that the act of working towards your goals becomes a habit.
    5. Enjoy the process and have a passion for life – Working on goals shouldn’t be torture. Have fun while you are working on your goals and purpose. Any goal that is worthwhile is usually difficult to achieve, but enjoy the process. In addition to actually accomplish your goal, you can develop your character and become a better person from having worked on the goal.

Dream Books – This is an idea I got from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Basically, a dream book is a notebook of any kind where you write all of your main dreams, goals, and objectives down. Review your dream book daily.

Furthermore, it can be very effective to cut out and paste pictures into your Dream Book of things you want to acquire based on your goals, and of people who have already achieved similar goals to what you want. This is similar to the idea of a vision board.

In addition to the 5 step method for setting goals, you may also want to consider using SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. SMART goals can be very effective ways to work on goals.

Happiness And Progress Towards Goals

  • A major source of happiness is achievement. You won’t get long term happiness from relaxing or sleeping but you can get long term happiness from working on your goals.

Prioritize and daily action

It is very important to prioritize your tasks daily. We almost never have enough time to do everything that we want to do. Therefore, you must prioritize your tasks. It is best to work on the most important tasks first, then as you finish a task, work on another task less important.


The Sumo Wrestler Representing Kaizen

The sumo wrestler in the fable represents kaizen which is a Japanese word meaning constant and never-ending self-improvement. Another way to translate kaizen is “change for the better” with the implication being constant change for the better.

You Must Make Time For Self-Improvement

Julian teaches, “You might think that you are too busy to spend time working on yourself. This would be a very big mistake. You see, when you have taken the time to build a strong character full of discipline, energy, power and optimism, you can have anything and do anything you want in your outer world. When you have cultivated a deep sense of faith in your abilities and an indomitable spirit, nothing can stop you from succeeding in all your pursuits and living with great rewards. Taking the time to master your mind, to care for the body and to nourish your soul will put you in a position to develop more richness and vitality in your life. It is as Epictetus said so many years ago: ‘No man is free who is not a master of himself.’”

Of what Julian taught, John recalls “He spoke of the importance of building strength of character, developing mental toughness and living with courage. He told me that these three attributes would lead one not only to a virtuous life but to a life filled with achievement, satisfaction and inner peace.”

  • building strength of character
  • Developing mental toughness
  • Living with courage

What is courage with respect to goals and life?

Julian says,  “Courage allows you to run your own race. Courage allows you to do whatever you want to do because you know that it is right. Courage gives you the self-control to persist where others have failed. Ultimately, the degree of courage you live with determines the amount of fulfillment you receive. It allows you to truly realize all the exquisite wonders of the epic that is your life. And those who master themselves have an abundance of courage.” 

Kaizen as a practical concept

Julian teaches, “How could a person possibly lead a corporation if he cannot even lead himself? How could you nurture a family if you haven’t learned to nurture and care for yourself? How could you possibly do good if you don’t even feel good?”

The Ten Rituals Of Radiant Living

Julian teaches what he calls “The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living” as practical ways to work on kaizen. I will take the liberty to rename them to make them sound a little better than what they are called in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

  1. Daily solitude – Every day, we all need a little time to ourselves. This technique involves taking time to be alone every day and it can include techniques like meditation and/or The Heart Of the Rose exercise. You can sit quietly in a park, in nature, or just be in a quiet place inside.
  2. Daily exercise and proper breathing – Generally at least 5 days per week, make sure you are exercising. In addition, take time to make sure you are breathing properly and taking in enough oxygen. Better breathing can literally improve your mood and have many other positive functions.
  3. Proper diet – Make sure you are eating a proper diet. While many people have different ideas of what a good diet entails, try to eat several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. In addition, avoid junk food. It is OK to have meat, just make sure to eat good quality meat, and eat it sparingly. If you are training specifically to get more muscle, you will need to eat lots of protein so make sure it is good quality protein. Also, don’t overeat. Eating salads every day can be good because they are usually low in calories, and are healthy.
  4. Daily learning – This involves lifelong learning and expanding your knowledge base. But, importantly, you must apply the knowledge you learn in your life. Knowledge is only potential power. Knowledge only becomes power when you use it. Many people stop learning after they leave school or university, but this problematic. People’s brains can literally atrophy if they stop actively learningforsometime.
    1. Reading –  Additionally, a very important type of learning you should be doing daily is reading. And especially reading books that can improve you. To get the most out of books, read them actively, study them, and think about the material. Books already have the answers to so many questions you may have, and have tons of wisdom. You don’t have to figure out everything on your own if you read books.
  5. Daily Personal reflection – This helps a lot in self-mastery. As it says in the book, “after all, how could I ever hope to improve myself and my life if I hadn’t even taken the time to figure out what I was supposed to improve?”
  6. Waking up early daily – There are many benefits to waking up early. Waking up early may require a bit of suffering to train yourself, but the pain will be worth it in the long term. Additionally, the 1st 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of day are extremely important. So, when you first wake, don’t just try to sleep in. Get up, and try to do something productive. Likewise, right before going to sleep, don’t be spending time on things like social media. Maybe you could be doing self-reflection or planning for the next day or week.
  7. Listening to music – Listening to music can be a great way to calm down or be more productive. Good music can also motivate you.
  8. Daily mantras – On mantras Julian teaches, “In Sanskrit, ‘man’ means ‘mind’ and ‘tra’ means ‘freeing.’ So a mantra is a phrase which is designed to free the mind.” Mantras can be effective to psych yourself up or keep yourself motivated.
  9. Improving your character daily – Every day, do little things to work on your character to be a better person. As the saying goes, “You sow a thought, you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap your destiny.’
  10. Simplify your life – Simplify your life in all the ways you can. In a way, try to be minimalist. Don’t focus much on materialism. Also limit your time on social media etc. To be most efficient and productive, focus only on your priorities.

Below Are Some More Tidbits Of Wisdom About Kaizen From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

  • Self-mastery is the DNA of life mastery
  • Change on the outside begins with change on the inside
  • Do what others don’t like doing and put off short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment
  • The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself
  • Do the things you fear and live your dreams

The wire cable around the sumo wrestler representing discipline and willpower

How A Wire Cable Is Made And How Self-Control And Willpower Are Like A Wire Cable

Julian teaches, “[a wire cable] consists of many thin, tiny wires placed one on top of the other. Alone, each one is flimsy and weak. But, together, their sum is much greater than their constituent parts and the cable becomes tougher than iron. Self-control and willpower are similar to this. To build a will of iron, it is essential to take small, tiny acts in tribute to the virtue of personal discipline. Routinely performed, the little acts pile one on top of another to eventually produce an abundance of inner strength.”

What is Willpower?

On willpower Julian says, “Willpower allows you to do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it. It is willpower that allows you to get up at five in the morning to cultivate your mind through meditation, or to feed your spirit by a walk in the woods when a cozy bed beckons you on a cold winter’s day. It is willpower that allows you to hold your tongue when a less actualized person insults you or does something you disagree with. It is willpower that pushes your dreams forward when the odds appear to be insurmountable. It is willpower that offers you the inner power to keep your commitments to others, and, perhaps even more importantly, to yourself.”

The power of self-control and willpower

There are many advantages to having self-control. Julian teaches, “When you have self-control, you will have the resolve to do the things you have always wanted to do. For you, it may be training for a marathon or mastering the art of white-water rafting or even giving up the law to become an artist. Whatever it is you are dreaming of, whether it is material riches or spiritual riches, I will not be your judge. I will simply tell you that all these things will be within your grasp when you cultivate your sleeping reserves of willpower.” 

Self-Discipline = True freedom

With discipline, you can have true freedom. By this, I mean you can have freedom from your impulses. So many people are slaves to their impulses, but with willpower and discipline, you can truly be free.

Freedom Is Like a House

I really like this quote from Julian, “Freedom is like a house: you build it brick by brick. The first brick you should lay is willpower. This quality inspires you to do what is right in any given moment. It gives you the energy to act with courage. It gives you the control to live the life you have imagined rather than accepting the life that you have.”

Benefits of self-discipline

  • Having less worry
  • Being healthier
  • Having more energy
  • Having more self-respect
  • Being more productive

Developing Self-Discipline bit-by-bit

Julian gives the example of having a goal to get up early every day in order to exercise to lose weight and get into better shape. You basically have 2 choices regarding such a goal:

  1. Waking up early and not sleeping in. You decide to wake up early, and you actually do it and work out soon after.
  2. You sleep in, make excuses, and give up on the idea of waking up early.

Waking up early is hard, at least for me. But, while you may suffer a little bit from getting up early, in the long term, the pleasure and self-respect you will get from developing your willpower will definitely be worth it.

Techniques to cultivate self-discipline and willpower

  1. Mantras – Your self-talk, how you talk to yourself, can greatly influence how you feel. With mantras, you actively plant a seed in your mind of how you want to feel, and of the things you want to accomplish. If you are having difficulty in any part of your life, you can create a positive mantra that you say many times per day to psych yourself up. If you don’t want others to think that you are “weird” saying a mantra, you could always say the mantras whenever you have privacy: for example in the shower, in your own car etc. Additionally, it can be beneficial to add creative envisioning while you are speaking the mantras. Creative envisioning is similar to visualization, and with it you basically you envision your life as you want it to be.
  2. Do things that you don’t like doing – For example waking up very early every day, taking cold showers, or generally doing anything that you know is good for you, but you don’t want to do. This way, you are training yourself not to be a slave to your impulses.
  3. Vow of silence – This is just as it sounds. Try not speaking to anyone for an entire day. It may be extremely difficult. But, if you can do this, you may appreciate speaking more, and be more disciplined in how you speak.

Real freedom comes when you decide once and for all to take charge of your life

John says, “I resolved to fulfill my dreams and make my life far more than it had ever been. That was my first taste of real freedom, the freedom that comes when you decide once and for all to take charge of your life and all its constituent elements.”


The Gold Stopwatch — Value Your Time

In the fable, the shiny gold stopwatch represents time, our most precious commodity. We can lose other worldly things and later buy more of those things, but we can never get time back lost time.

Guard Your Time — Learn To Say NO

Learn to say no, and to protect your time. Everyone only has 24 hours in the day to get done what they want to get done. To maximize whatever you want to do, you have to guard your time fiercely.

Have the discipline to focus your time around your priorities

Techniques for working on time management and getting more time in your day

  • The 80/20 rule – The 80/20 rule, also known as the Paretto principle, says that “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”. For example, it may be the case that the top 20% of the world’s population has 80% of the wealth. In business, it is often the case that 80% of a company’s business comes from 20% of its customers. And on and on it goes. There are so many applications of the 80/20 rule. Sometimes, the cases are even more extreme like 90/10, or cases where it is even more skewed. To apply this to your own life, look at all the things you do with your time. It is very likely that only 20% of less of what you do actually contributes to 80% or more of your income. Find that 20% and put even more effort into it. You could do the same in your own business, or in anything you want to accomplish.
  • The Deathbed Mentality – This is the idea that you think about what you would be thinking and feeling on your deathbed. Try to live with as few regrets as possible. People usually regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did do. Additionally, various studies have shown that people are usually happier from having experiences rather than having lots of “stuff”. Live every day to the fullest and as if it were your last day on Earth. All we have is now; tomorrow is not guaranteed to come for us, and yesterday is already gone.
  • Say NO more often – We only have so much time in the day And we can only accomplish so much in a day – People may try to interrupt us, ask favors of us, and so on, even though we have a lot of work to do. We need to have the courage to say no, even to our friends and family. Sure, you can be generous and help other people, just make sure not to overextend yourself. You can’t be all things to all people. It is best to commit to doing a few things well, than doing many things only semi-well or badly.

Working on procrastination

One way to work on procrastination is to do things that you know you should do, yet most people wouldn’t want to do. It can be painful to do, but in the process, you will be working on your willpower, and the proactive approach will probably benefit you in other aspects of your life as well.

The root cause of procrastination

The root cause of procrastination is usually wanting to avoid something that we feel will be painful. Eventually, the pain of not doing the activity becomes more painful than doing that activity. We can however choose to break the cycle, and actively work on things even if we don’t want to. If nothing else, this can train our willpower.

A Method to work on procrastination: Do Things While They are Still Small

Instead of taking on big tasks, which can overwhelm us, we can take on little tasks bit-by-bit. This is a great way to work on limiting procrastination. This reminds me of part of verse from the Tao Te Ching: “Take on difficulties when they are still easy; do great things while they are still small. The sage does not attempt anything very big, and thus achieves greatness.”

Ritual of Simplicity

By simplifying your life, you will have time for the most essential things. Many of us want to accomplish quite a lot. Yet, there never seems to be enough time. In order to “gain back” more time, we have to consciously choose what to work on and give time to, and what things we will not work on. The deliberate prioritization of time may be difficult, but it will benefit us in the long run.

The Art of personal governing

Time and discipline go hand-in-hand. You can have more time to spend on things you want if you have more self-discipline, and if you have more time, you will be able to work on self-discipline more.

High Achievers Vs. Average People

Every person only has 24 hours in a day. The difference between the high achievers and average people is how they use their time.

The logic of planning out your days

I often used to think that planning out my day was a waste of time. While planning itself does take time, it is a great time investment which will reap benefits. You will actually save lots of time by planning out your days rather than by spontaneously making up what you will do for the day.

This is really profound!!! It takes lots of effort, but it WILL benefit you. Besides giving you more time in your day, it can make your more productive, more efficient, and it helps train similar parts of the brain that also controls willpower; the prefrontal cortex.

Read more about the prefrontal cortext here and here.

Julian gives a very profound teaching about the logic of planning out your days: “Rather than getting up at your usual 6:30 a.m., gulping down a cup of Java, speeding off to work and then spending a stressful day of ‘catchup,’ let’s say you took fifteen minutes the night before to plan your day. Or to be even more effective, let’s say you took one hour on your quiet Sunday morning to organize your entire week. In your daily planner, you wrote out when you would meet with your clients, when you would do legal research and when you would return phone calls. Most importantly, your personal, social and spiritual development goals for the week also went into your agenda book. This simple act is the secret to a life of balance.”

Having better time management can make you happier in all aspects of life

John has some self-dialogue on having better time management could make him happier, “Time management was not just something to focus on at the office and discard at closing time. It was a holistic system that could make all areas of my life more balanced and fulfilling, if I applied it correctly. I learned that by planning my days and taking the time to ensure that I was balanced in the use of my time, I would not only be far more productive — I would be far happier.”

Think About Your Long Term Future — Will It Change How You Act Now?

Even though it may be difficult, try think about how you want your life to be 1, 2, 5, 10 years from now. Will this change how you act today?


The Flowers – Selflessly Serve Others

The flowers are a clever memory peg because of their relation in a Chinese proverb. Julian says, “The flowers will remind you of the ancient Chinese proverb, ‘a little bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses.’ The meaning is clear — when you work to improve the lives of others, you indirectly elevate your own life in the process.”

Serving Others

  • One of the most noble things you can do is to serve others
  • Serving doesn’t have to involve money. In fact, your most precious resources are your time and energy, so you could just serve with those.
  • Of course, money helps if you are able to give it.

So Much About Life Is About Perspective

Is your glass half full or half empty? Helping others can help you improve your perspective on life. 

Working On Our Legacy By Helping Others

Though we will all pass away someday, we can all leave a great legacy by serving others.


Path of diamonds = living in the now; embracing the present

The diamonds in the fable represent living in the now. On this topic, Julian teaches, “never put off happiness [just] for the sake of achievement. Never put off the things that are important for your well-being and satisfaction to a later time. Today is the day to live fully, not when you win the lottery or when you retire. Never put off living!”

Life shouldn’t only be about achieving wealth, fame, or success. Though those things can be great, there is much more to life than those things alone. 

Techniques for learning to live in the now

  • Practice the art of gratitude– Every day, even if just for 5 minutes or less, have a practice of gratitude. You can write down on a computer or in a journal what you are grateful for or just speak them out loud or maybe even meditate on what you are grateful for.

Conclusion

I truly believe that The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is an excellent book. And, I would recommend it to everyone. Its teachings are timeless, so the wisdom would be just as relevant today as 500 years from now.

I’ve read many books in my life, and this book was one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. It really has had a big impact on my life.

Great things I’ve learned from this book and attribute to this book

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising more and getting in better shape; I usually exercise 5-6 days per week, even when I don’t want to exercise
  • I meditate daily and have better mental health
  • I am working on purpose
  • I am now more productive
  • I work on goals more and generally visualize my goals daily
  • Have more willpower and self-discipline

Comparison Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari To Other Books

I think that this book has similar themes to books like The Alchemist and Who Moved My Cheese?. All of these books are novels with stories meant to inspire you to change yourself. Additionally, most of these type of books teach you some deep wisdom in persuasive ways.

Be Like An Empty Cup – Always Be Open To New Learning And Changes In Your Life

Zen saying empty cup
An Empty cup

There are several different Zen stories about being like an empty cup. In the different Zen stories, a full cup represents being obstinate while an empty cup represents always being open to improving yourself and learning new things. Never assume you know everything or that you can’t improve yourself to an even higher level no matter what you are doing.

Did you enjoy this article? Do you have anything to add? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

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