By Parveen Chopra
Robin Sharma, 40 years old and single father of two, gave this interview to life positive from Toronto
There is very little of your personal life story available, even on your website…
I have no problem talking about my personal life. My father grew up in Jammu and my mother – who is also of Indian descent – in Nairobi. I was divorced a number of years ago and am raising my children as a single father. Notwithstanding my professional success, my greatest source of joy comes from my two children. They are the number one priority in my life.
What is your connection with India?How often have you visited the country in the past? Any plans for the future?
I am proud of my Indian heritage. I have visited India on two occasions, the last in mid-2004. I will be there for a few weeks in 2005 to shoot the movie being made on The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I plan to visit India at least every six months to do seminars and coaching sessions for Indian corporations. I have worked with many organisations such as Nike, General Motors, Microsoft, FedEx, Panasonic, Kraft Foods, and IBM, helping them become even more effective and successful and would like to share my ideas on elite performance and leadership with more Indian organisations.
Why did you choose the fiction format for The Monk… and for most of your other books too?
We all love a good story. The inspiration for The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari involved offering powerful ideas to help people improve their lives. And if it was in the form of an entertaining and engaging story, people would not only read the book but would remember the concepts. I also find it easy to write fiction given my vivid imagination.
What was in your mind when you wrote The Monk…? Were you inspired by the success of The Celestine Prophecy?
What was in the forefront of my mind when I wrote it was the passion that I had to share the life-changing ideas I had with as many people as possible. I am an ordinary person who used these ideas to recreate my life and to find much more happiness. I wanted to write a book that would touch people not only at an intellectual level but an emotional level also and have a deep impact on the way they thought, felt and acted.
Is the idea of Sivana inspired by Shambhala or Gyan Ganj?
No. It came from my imagination.
Do you owe your wisdom to Indian sources alone, or do you owe a debt to western thinkers too?
I am a student of life. I draw wisdom wherever I can find it. There is much Indian philosophy in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari but also a lot of western philosophy. All that matters to me is to convey ideas that work and move the reader into their highest action.
Your admirers say that you ‘put all the truths in one place’ in your books. So, what’s left for your workshops?
There is so much more that I share at my workshops than what’s in my books and at my website. Take The Elite Performers Series, a 2-day leadership workshop, where I help people manage change, become more effective in terms of time management, build high performance teams and become more innovative. In my personal development workshop, Awakening Best Self, I help people break through their fears and live their lives at the highest level. There are many things I can teach in a workshop that I cannot convey in my books.
What are your future projects?
I am working on more books in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari series as well as other books on personal leadership.
What are the three guided visualisations that you offer?
Each year, I accept three or four coaching clients and serve as their personal executive/success coach. I have been blessed to help these people become far more successful in their professional as well as in their personal lives. These three visualisations are designed to help an individual become far more focused, at peace and happier. They are available on a CD I have created called Meditation for Elite Performers, available at www.robinsharma.com.
Did you have a guru/master yourself? Did you get IT in India too like John in The Monk…?
I do not have a guru. But I have many wonderful and wise people who I surround myself with and I learn from them every day. As I say at my seminars: ‘You are who you have lunch with.’ The way we think is determined by the people we associate with. Even one idea in a good conversation with a wise person can move your life in a whole new direction.
Do you think Indian civilisation/heritage has something valuable to contribute to the world?
Yes, of course. I think it is one of the richest cultures on the planet and the ideas from India have touched so many of the world’s wisest thinkers.
Will it be correct to say that your later books expound on the principles outlined in The Monk… and offer applications in specific areas?
My other books contain fresh ideas that will help people find greater happiness, success and personal fulfilment. Many people know me for The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari but are not aware that I have written six other books. And many of my clients find the other books even more helpful than The Monk…
The bulk of the book is conversations between the Sivana sage and Julian Mantle, and Julian and John the narrator. Wouldn’t it make for dull viewing?
The screenplay for the movie is being prepared. It will be in English and will be released worldwide. We are also looking at doing a Hindi version for India. The people making the movie will ensure that it is a world-class production, full of entertainment as well as wisdom.
Have you trained other people who can lead your seminars in your stead?
We are in the process of training coaches who will deliver my material in seminars around the world.
What is your own routine like? What daily meditation/ yoga/ exercise/ rituals do you do yourself?
I try to get up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. I meditate for about half an hour and then write in a journal or I read. I then get my children ready for school and go to my office. On the days that I am travelling, I give my speech and then make sure that I exercise and find some time for myself. I try to ensure that I never go to sleep without reading for at least 60 minutes a day. I also try to inject a period of silent reflection into my day where I think about what’s most important and try to learn the lessons from the previous days.
Have you found the purpose of your own life? What does your personal mission statement read like?
The purpose of my life is to serve as many people as possible by sharing the ideas that I have learned to help people live their best and highest lives. My personal mission statement reads: ‘To help people remember who they truly are and play their best game as human beings.’
More books, now a movie too, more workshops for the high and mighty, what else do you look forward to?
I don’t really know what the future holds for me. I am enjoying coaching business leaders and entrepreneurs. I plan to do even more of that. I also plan to make music. I am a guitar player and would like to make music with a positive message.
What kind of set-up do you have in Canada?
We are a small team of six people. We are focused on the mission of getting my message out to as many human beings as possible.
When you work with a corporate, how do you deal with the possibility that it may be following some unethical practices?
I don’t work with unethical companies.
Most thinking well-to-do people in India feel guilty about the country’s abject poverty. How can they feel good?
Mother Teresa once said: ‘If I didn’t pick up that first person in Calcutta, I wouldn’t have picked up the 42,000th.’ Each and every one of us has the power to make a difference, even in small ways. By simply being kinder to other people, we improve the world. By simply championing someone we may work with so that they can see more of who they are truly meant to be, we make a difference in the workplace. By simply being a better listener to your children or teaching them some powerful leadership ideas, you will make a difference in your family culture. The whole idea is to do small things each day to improve the way that you live. Leadership is all about continuous improvement by taking small steps in the direction of your dreams.
Could Self-help books be a disservice in countries like India where the ‘system’ is so oppressive that it is difficult to make any headway?
Anyone who says personal development books are doing a disservice is not aware of the truth. Any human being, no matter what his position is in life, can improve his circumstances by thinking new thoughts and taking new actions. The wisdom literature is full of stories of people who came from very, very humble beginnings and built glorious lives by making small changes in their thinking or behaviour. A good self-help book inspires its readers to run towards their fears and to take the steps required to lift their circumstances to a higher level. Philosophical books have been around for many thousands of years and modern self-help books are simply an embodiment of the old philosophical texts. Human beings have always wanted to improve their circumstances and a good self-help book does just that.
What good is personal/spiritual growth when tsunami waves hit and you go down under?
No one is suggesting that personal growth can prevent you from being caught in a tsunami. The whole idea behind personal growth is to show you ways to improve your personal and your professional life. The best move a human being can make is to take personal responsibility over the way their lives look and take the steps required to improve it.
Anything else you want to share, particularly with Indian readers?
I have a deep love of India. I want to thank the readers of my books from the bottom of my heart. I do what I do for my readers. I hope they will continue to read my books and share the ideas from them with as many people as possible so that even more people see how beautiful their lives can be and live at their highest and best. I look forward to visiting India on many more occasions in the future and to make new friends in your great country.
Contact: www.robinsharma.com; email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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