Book: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
Author: Vishen Lakhiani
I recently read The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. The book is an attempt by Vishen to summarise, into almost 300 pages, his personal development journey, experience and philosophy. The book contains many practical examples as well as a companion app and free tools which accompany the reader of his/her journey. These can be found at Mindvalley.com (Vishen’s company’s website).
The book is split into 4 sections:
Section 1 deals with the Bullshit rules (Brules) of society by which many of us now live our lives. These include all the rules of family, religion and society in general. Vishen calls it the Culturescape
Section 2 is about consciousness engineering. We are encouraged to look at the “12 areas of balance” in our lives and to rate how happy we are in each area. Here we start to re-examine our lives in terms of the reality we would like to exist in. Vishen calls it “ re-writing our models of reality”.
Section 3 is about recoding ourselves. Here we are guided to come up with new systems for living and new models of reality. Vishen helps us to come up with a way to combine happiness in the moment with an exciting vision for the future. He says that when we master this balance between ‘now’ and ‘the future’, we are able to ‘bend reality’ (life seems to just work for us).
Section 4 is called “becoming extraordinary” and helps us go to a new level of personal happiness and contentment in the moment, whilst identifying our ‘quest’ for our lives.
Some of the ideas dealt with in TCOTEM are discussed in other personal growth books, however what I liked about this book is that everything is in one place and has been pulled together in an elegant framework which is relatively easy to put into practice.
There is a lot about self-love, gratitude and forgiveness….which seem to be the keys to living happily in the moment, even when the future is uncertain. These were not new ideas to me but I enjoyed practicing the suggestions made.
Goal Setting and Meditation
Goal-setting and meditation were two areas where I really found Vishen’s approach useful. As someone who has struggled with meditation (falling asleep, wandering mind, not sure what to do, uncomfortable etc) I found it refreshing to have some clear steps to focus on. I also really like the way the meditation practice is a balance between happiness in the now, and envisioning our dream of the future.
Goal setting also gets a makeover. Vishen encourages us to do away with ‘means goals’ and replace them with ‘end goals’. Essentially the difference is that the end goal is what you get when you keep asking why a means goal is important. I actually find it quite refreshing to be setting goals which don’t involve earning ‘x’ amount of money or achieving ‘x’ promotion. However I do find that end goals such as ‘to always be surrounded by love’ seem a little wooly and hard to measure. Maybe that’s the point.
In fact money is not really discussed in this book. Vishen talks a lot about his meeting and interviewing billionaires etc, but he doesn’t seem to advocate setting financial goals for oneself. Again I found this reasonably refreshing……but then again I find the idea of making lots of money exciting so shouldn’t that be a goal of mine….?
The message of TCOTEM is in line with much of the personal development literature at the moment. The book encourages us to really question the way we all live our lives. I actually found the message similar in many ways to James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. Both are about finding your own personal way in life using the advances in technology combined with spiritual knowledge.
There is emphasis on finding our ‘quest’ which I also also took to mean ‘life purpose’. This is a common idea now although that does not make it wrong. Personally I find it very difficult indeed to find my ‘quest’. I find it tough to identify my ‘life purpose’. It’s always at this point in these sorts of books that I come a little unstuck. Perhaps need to be more willing to take leaps of faith.
The writing style is fairly straightforward and conversation, which I enjoyed. There are lots of little anecdotes and personal stories woven into the text and they give a nice change of pace from the core instructions in the book.
Essentially that’s what this book is – an instruction book. This is indeed a practice for daily living which is designed to help you ‘level-up’ your life and the way you live. It is spiritual instruction combined with practical tips on how to improve different aspect of your life on a day to day basis (the systems for living).
I noticed that some other reviewers became annoyed with the references to Richard Branson, millionaire retreats and various other ‘impressive’ references. Some seemed to think the author was bragging or being arrogant. Personally I didn’t find this. I felt the various references in the book indicated clearly that Vishen has spent time in the company of pioneers and great people – which gives the book credibility. I like the fact that someone who is into personal growth has done more than just read books – but has actually gone out and interviewed/spent time with the people he admires.
Overall I found this book an excellent read. I found a good balance between philosophic insights, opinion and practical advice. Clearly TCOTEM is written by someone who genuinely cares about people and their growth. The content is new and fresh.
I am sure that some people will not find it quite down-to-earth enough. Perhaps the goal setting will not be measurable or specific enough. Perhaps it won’t be ‘realistic’ enough. For me though, I don’t always want to be realistic – I want some new and fresh ideas that I can try in my life. If they are a bit different, so much the better. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone interested in personal growth.