Vishen Lakhiani recently authored The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Laws to Enhance Happiness, Mindfulness, and Influence (Rodale). Blending history, evolutionary biology, computational thinking, integral theory and more – the book provides a new framework for understanding, and thus ‘hacking’ and enhancing, the human self.
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind draws from countless interviews and questions Vishen has personally posed to the world's brightest minds like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Ken Wilber, Dean Kamen, Arianna Huffington and other respected game-changers today, ranging from billionaires to bio-hackers. The book also features a number of powerful exercises and methods to untrain and retrain the mind to hack everything important: goal-setting, happiness, compassion, human kindness, and how we work, love, parent and heal.
Lakhiani is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a ground-breaking company specializing in learning experiences in life-long education by introducing mindfulness, wellbeing, productivity, personal development and more into global learning through its online academies, apps, events and websites.
I had a chance to interview him to learn more.
1. Why did you start Mindvalley?
In 2002 I found myself in San Francisco working hard at a sales job that gave me very little inspiration. At one point I ended up Googling for answers on what to do with my life; and it led me to a meditation class in Los Angeles.
After I attended that class and returned to work, something mysterious happened. Within one week, my performance doubled, and in a month it doubled again. The results continued to accelerate as I invested more time in refining my meditation practice by studying it further and attending more classes.
Four months later I had been promoted three times. I stayed on at the company until I was appointed Business Development Manager and Top Salesperson simultaneously. But eventually I started to feel unfulfilled, and decided to start something I believed was better for my purpose.
I asked myself – how can I contribute best to the world with my experience right now? What came back was what had helped me the most then – meditation. So I bought a domain online and called it Mindvalley, and started a little ecommerce store that sold meditation courses so that others like me could benefit from the lifechanging practice. And the rest is history :)
2. What inspired you to write your new book?
In the past decade as an entrepreneur in personal growth, I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interact with all kinds of extraordinary personalities in the world – from scientists and billionaires to monks and teachers – to try and understand how their minds work and what makes them unique in what they do.
Having a background in computer engineering (my major in college) has also given me the ability to see patterns, models and systems that people are often using unconsciously, and what I realised is that all these personalities have their own personal codes of habit and living, which contributed to their success and their achievements.
As I continued to observe and had conversations with these extraordinary men and women, I thought – how cool would it be if I could reverse engineer this into anyone? Be it a teenager who is still in school or an an adult at the dead end in his career? That's
what sparked the book, T he Code of the Extraordinary Mind. The book illustrates 10 different models that you can pretty much download and implement into your mind to instantly kickstart you towards your level of extraordinary. Each model builds up on the other, and once you start thinking according to these models, amazing changes begin to happen in your life – because you’ll begin to make amazing decisions.
I recently came across a n article on a South African news site called IOL about Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities for Western Cape, who decided to disregard convention and m ove his ministry into a shop, despite resistance from fellow bureaucrats, so that he could be “as close as possible to the real life of the business community whose scope for growth and job-generation is his priority.”
Minister Winde credits my “brules” concept as one of the inspirations behind his decision. Brules is short for “bull-- rules”, which questions and calls out indoctrinated beliefs and assumptions that may limit our potential, fed to us throughout our lives by previous generations and society as what is accepted or the right way to be.
3. How can people crack The Code of the Extraordinary Mind?
The 10 principles that I highlight in my book fall into 4 different levels, which represent areas of expansion in your awareness.
Throughout these levels you’ll learn to observe the web of habits, rituals, ideas and beliefs that you have unconsciously lived in (I refer to it as the “Culturescape”) so you can identify the ones that have been holding you back; understand how your mind works and you can program it like a computer; access your inner self so you can explore beyond your conscious mind and study your subconscious; and finally you’ll learn how to take the extraordinary you out into the world so you can contribute to it and spark positive impact on humanity.
4. What are some things that happen when people unleash their potential?
Here’s an example that affects me as a parent. Most of us were raised – in fact children today are still raised – to answer the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? According to J aime Casap, Google Global Education Evangelist, you create greater impact through the conversation by asking children w hat problems they want to solve.
Asking a child what they want to be when they grow up forces them to think within the culturescape and narrows their vision down to a conventional or acceptable role, like an entrepreneur or an engineer. But encouraging children to think about the kind of change, impact and contribution they hope to achieve opens up whole different levels, and teaches them to identify solutions and paths that may be unconventional, but leads to happier and more fulfilled definitions of life and success.