“I said, ’I’m a lawyer, here’s my story. I’ve self-published it,’” Sharma recalls. “He pulled out his card and said, ’I might be interested. I’m Ed Carson, president of HarperCollins.’ It changed everything.”
It was not only Sharma’s life that changed — millions have, since they heard Sharma’s wisdom. The self help guru’s bestselling books have been published in 51 languages and he remains a sought-after speaker on personal and professional leadership. His latest book in the series, The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, is now in stores. Sharma shared five practises that he feels will help people live a more authentic and meaningful life.
Court fear “Once every seven days, do something that frightens you. Every time we do something that we resist and is frightening, we actually grow in our power. “The fears that you don’t deal with own you. I was down in Trinidad six months ago speaking to kids. I was talking about this and I said, ’Fears are like these monsters if you don’t deal with them. So go hug the monster.’
“I used to be incredibly afraid of public speaking. I started with five people, then I’d speak to 10 people. I made it up to 75 people, up to 100 and now I can speak to a very large group and it feels similar to speaking to you one-on-one. “We have a normal. As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”
Be authentic “Many people are spending the best years of their lives living their neighbour’s lives. We buy into a definition of success sold to us by society rather than asking: Who am I and how do I want to live? Oscar Wilde said it brilliantly: ’Be yourself; everyone else is taken.’
“The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write in a journal. Take long walks in the woods. Disconnect from Facebook for an hour. Read the biographies and the books of your heroes and the people who resonate with you. “I was a litigation lawyer. That’s all very logical. Become a litigation lawyer. Become successful. Have a nice office. But there was some pull inside of me saying, self-publish this book. I followed that intuition and it’s been a great choice for me in my life.”
Remember the power of relationships “We live in a world where many of us have never been so connected by technology yet we’ve never been so disconnected to other human beings. We can have 500 friends on Facebook and yet we’re sitting alone in a room without a real friend. “One of the great sources of happiness is real human connections with people you care about. To do that? Private one-on-one time.”
Work is only work if you choose to see it as only work “Every job is an opportunity to pursue a craft. Have you ever met that one person, they’re flipping a hamburger and most people would see that they’re doing an ordinary job, but they think it’s the most important job in the world? “I’ve met taxi drivers, for example, they say, ’I’ve got the cleanest taxi in the world. This is my job so I have a fresh white shirt on and my goal is to leave you better than I found you.’ They restore your spirit in humanity.”
Remember that you can’t inspire others if you are not inspired yourself “Develop yourself to your highest potential. We have been seduced into thinking that we can measure the value of our lives by our net worth. Yet if you look at the empirical evidence, people who make $5 million a year are only incrementally happier than blue-collar workers. “I’ve worked with billionaires as a leadership coach, business advisor and many of them are the most unhappy and empty people you’ve ever met. Why? Because they have a lot of money and they don’t have much else.
“Take time for yourself to work on your mind, your body and your emotional life. Finally, your spiritual life. It’s great to take care of yourself, your family but what makes a life ultimately matter is living for a cause that’s larger than yourself. You don’t have to be a Steve Jobs or a Nelson Mandela. You can be an ordinary person who says I’m going to do my part to uplift people, take care of the environment and take care of my community.”
The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari ($29.99) is published by HarperCollins. This article was originally published in the National Post on Nov. 18, 2011.