The Buddha and the Badass: The Secret Spiritual Art of Succeeding at Work

The Buddha and the Badass: The Secret Spiritual Art of Succeeding at Work

by Vishen Lakhiani

We’ve been told that hustling is the only way to succeed at work and in life. Yet the average person spends most of their life toiling at a job they hate without feeling fulfilled. It’s no wonder that we often feel disconnected from our mind, body, spirit, and soul. The Buddha and the Badass is an inspiring reminder that there’s much more to life than eking out a material existence. 

In this 3-part book, you learn how to uncover your soul mission and attract allies to help you achieve your vision. It will teach you how to find your inner power to transform your work. You’ll also discover techniques to awaken your spiritual master while embracing your role as a change-maker who can aid in humanity’s progress. Ultimately, The Buddha and the Badass teaches you how to find inspiration, bliss, and abundance in your work and life! 

Summary Notes

Uncovering Your Foundational Values

“Every person’s life unfolds in a way that is unique to them. Each significant event you experience leaves a trace. These experiences shape you into who you are meant to be. And when you decode them, you’ll discover that the Universe has a plan for who you are meant to be”

Your foundational values determine every decision you make. These values cannot be made up. They come from deep within your soul and are meant to guide you to your unique destiny. However, societal brainwashing disconnects most people from their foundational values. We’ve been trained since childhood to chase the material illusions of this world blindly. This is why many feel disconnected, dissatisfied, and lack a clear purpose in their lives. To reconnect to your true self, you must discover your foundational values.   

Knowing your values is important because it makes your life much easier. For instance, it enables you to start a company that fulfills your soul instead of one that only generates money. You can also use your foundational values to define the soul of your company, thus attracting the people who also share your values. Your values help you launch unique products and businesses that nobody else can imitate because they’re based on your unique life path.

Everyone has a unique origin story that defines their hidden motivations in life. This origin story is often based on an extremely painful or joyful event from your childhood. During these peak moments in your past, you decided to embrace specific values that created the foundation of who you are today. You must recall these significant moments from your past to regain awareness of your foundational values. Once you do so, you’ll only be interested in people, projects, businesses, and careers that align with your values. You’ll accelerate your success and feel more fulfilled than ever before.

Actions to take

Attracting Your Allies

“Greatness is best achieved with others. The greatest gift you can give someone is to invite them to share in a dream. This is how you become magnetic and align yourself with the people you need to make any vision a reality.”

Most people have brilliant ideas that they never manifest because they are paralyzed by the fear of not having all the answers. They think the idea isn't worth acting on just because they don’t know how to achieve a goal. Thus they quit and settle for whatever life offers them. They spend the rest of their days torn up by secret failures and ideas they never shared with the world.

To avoid this fate, you need to understand that you don’t have to know how to achieve an outcome. All you need is an inspiring Why and What. Whether starting a business or a movement, focus on creating a compelling manifesto that can attract the people you need to achieve your mission. 

With your powerful manifesto, share your idea passionately with others so that they can understand your innermost beliefs. Rely on emotion rather than logic, so your message resonates with the hearts of potential allies. This will draw in people who have the skills necessary to achieve the How of your vision.

Once you’ve attracted the right people, you can then craft a vivid vision to reflect the future you want to realize. A vision provides clarity of purpose to your team, clients, partners, and media. It enables you to take intentional actions that align with your future goal. This vision should be inspiring enough to encourage your allies to stay with you for the long haul. It’s recommended that you create a 3-year vision as this is enough time to achieve desired results but not too far off to dampen people’s excitement.

Actions to take

Forging Deep Connections

“The need to belong is in our DNA. While we may see ourselves as separate from one another, the truth is, that we are connected by invisible bonds. When you understand how to influence this space, you create communities where everyone is greater together than apart.”

We all have a biological need for love and belonging. Everyone wants to feel connected to someone else, whether it's family, friends, or even colleagues. Since most of us spend much time at work, workmates have become our new tribe. Studies show that strong social connections at work greatly influence our productivity, creativity, and intelligence. A deep sense of connection also positively correlates to our happiness and fulfillment.

Yet the workplace is one place where we struggle to create deep conversations and profound human connections. Most office retreats are filled with strategy meetings and OKRs (objectives and key results). By putting business needs before people, companies miss out on the chance to make a difference in employees’ lives. Managers today expect their employees to be professional and not show too much emotion or weakness. But this is an old model from the authoritarian era after WW II. Allowing for casual Fridays or dishing out free food at the cafeteria is insufficient for fostering human connection.

Companies should be ready to bend the rules to strengthen employee bonds. If you’re in a leadership position, encourage employees to form stronger friendships by initiating more social events. You can have weekly get-togethers, a monthly social night, or annual parties outside the office. Create space for colleagues to be vulnerable with one another and share details of their personal lives without feeling judged.  The goal is to turn the workplace into an environment where people openly celebrate each other regularly and enjoy a strong sense of community.

Actions to take

Becoming Unfuckwithable

“In a world of many options, we seek to follow others rather than follow our own inner guidance. The key is to learn to love yourself deeply and learn to trust your inner yearnings. As you do, you can channel these dreams, visions, and desires into a masterpiece of a life.”

We all want to feel significant to those around us, often leading us to adopt other people’s opinions and beliefs instead of our heart’s desire. Perhaps, you studied a course you don’t enjoy just to please your parents. You might also think there’s something wrong witty you after your date failed to text you back the next day. In these instances, you question your worth and decide to comply with other people’s opinions just to prove that you matter.

Unfortunately, listening to all these external voices causes you to lose touch with your true self. You sacrifice your dreams and vision just to make others proud of you. The fancy job title, sports car, and large bank account become tools for validating yourself to the world. But these are just weak attempts at feeling significant and raising your self-esteem. You’re so caught up with getting people to love you that you gradually become fuckwithable.

When you release yourself from the need to feel significant and know that you are good enough, you start to live life with incredible power. When your need for significance is met internally, you become unfuckwithable. You find true peace within yourself, and other people’s negativity no longer troubles you. But to get to this place, you must love yourself and be grateful for your uniqueness. Once you do this, you start to influence others to also unleash the greatness within them. Whether with colleagues or friends, this is a powerful way to create an unfuckwithable team.

Actions to take

Growing Your Soul

“The true reality is that success and failure are illusions. The only thing that matters is how fast you’re evolving. Your journey is about removing all the barriers that hold you back from self-actualization.”

Most societies have adopted a flawed model for success and happiness. We’ve been conditioned to believe that a fulfilled life means having a prestigious job title, a large bank balance, and many material possessions. The problem with this  thinking is that it leads to an “if/then life.” If your business fails, then you’re a failure. If you make a lot of money, then you’re happy. But how many times have you achieved something yet still didn’t feel fulfilled? 

The truth is that neither success nor failure matters in life. You can live a fulfilled life even if your business fails or you’re making a small salary. The most important thing you need for happiness is growth. As long as your soul is transforming, you’ll be fine. 

Transformation comes in two forms—pain (kensho) or insight (satori). If getting your heart broken causes you to contemplate the qualities of a future partner seriously, accepting the pain as necessary. If reading biographies teaches you something about success, let yourself celebrate the insight. But don’t get intoxicated by material success, and don’t let failure get you down. Real fulfillment is only defined by how much you grow from your experiences.   

Furthermore, transformation shouldn’t be confused with learning. Learning is something you get from a class—a bunch of facts you soon forget after your final exam. Transformation is more powerful than learning because it involves a permanent shift in how you see and experience reality. 

Though transformation occurs slowly, you can accelerate the process by taking deliberate steps to evolve your soul. You can create a personal growth routine or use specific techniques to turn your workplace into a growth-centric environment. Either way, your transformation can inspire others to follow suit.

Actions to take

Choosing Your Mission

“As you self-actualize, you gain an edge in life. The next step is to use this edge to lift others up and enhance the world—this is self-transcendence. When you live from this plane, you will tap into a level of fulfillment beyond anything you can imagine.”

As human beings, we’re naturally inclined toward goal achievement. For our ancestors, it was hunting for a meal or looking for berries on trees. In today’s world, it can be playing video games or working for a green technology company. If the mission is massive and motivating enough, it may attract others who are also prepared to contribute to a cause that positively impacts humanity.

However, this is easier said than done. Many entrepreneurs and visionaries start companies and movements but never make the impact they expected. The secret to succeeding in your mission is to identify and hire people who are smarter than you and then convince them that they are part of a worthy mission. Once they see their work as a mission, provide them with inspiring projects and set them free to do their work. As the leader, delegating tasks allows you to focus on the overall vision. Your main role is to remind everyone—including yourself—of the mission and keep your team focused and motivated.

But you don’t need to have a great vision and many resources to contribute to humanity. As an individual, you can simply ask yourself this question: Is the daily work that I devote myself to contribute to Humanity Plus or Humanity Minus? 

Work that falls under Humanity Plus adds value to the world, while those in Humanity Minus harm people’s lives, e.g., marketing cigarettes and sugar-filled soda to teens. Take a hard look at your company's products or services to determine whether your purpose is to benefit humanity or simply make a profit at all costs.

Actions to take

Activating the Visionary in You

“There is no greater experience than to live your life working to achieve a vision so bold that it scares you. When you live this way, you may find that the vision is not coming from you. Instead, the Universe is choosing to go through you to realize what the world needs.”

One of the defining characteristics of a great visionary is their willingness to destroy a part of their life that is merely good to create a truly great life. This idea is known as Beautiful Destruction. 

Most people get comfortable with having tiny goals or visions that don’t inspire them much. This often leads to an attitude of complacency. However, a visionary understands that the fastest way to achieve a worthy and captivating goal is by destroying that mindset of complacency. This means aiming much higher by envisioning a big and scary goal.

People often assume that the bigger the vision, the harder it is to achieve. This isn’t true. When you envision audacious goals, you also attract and motivate the best brains to join you. But having a small vision shows people that you’re problem isn’t much of a challenge and thus isn’t worth solving. When speaking to people about your vision, talk about it as if you’ve already achieved it. This helps you come up with action steps that are aligned with what you believe you can achieve.

In your journey, facing obstacles is inevitable, so be prepared to stay committed for the long haul. Though your vision should be audacious, it must not be fluffy. Ensure that it’s achievable so that you can create short-term targets that are practical and measurable. Remember to infuse your enthusiasm into every team member so that they can dream as boldly as you do. A team that shares a bold vision of the future and acts as if it’s already accomplished can make miracles happen.

Actions to take

Operating as a unified brain

“To tackle a truly grand vision, you need to have many brains; you need a team of people to act as one unified superbrain. When you learn to create a unified brain, you move with amazing speed and prowess.”

In the traditional workplace environment, a CEO at the top makes all the decisions, and then employees at lower levels are expected to implement them. This hierarchical separation between a leader and their team can often be destructive because most employees perceive their CEO as unrelatable. As a result, colleagues may avoid or resent their CEO, curtailing the flow and exchange of innovative ideas within the organization.

For a company to succeed long term, it must operate with a unified brain. The team has to function as a singular mind, with each team member acting as a neuron sending ideas back and forth. Studies show that whenever you conceive of an inspirational idea and share it with someone else, your brain releases a surge of serotonin and dopamine. 

The act of coming together with separate ideas and fusing them to form a superior idea is referred to as idea sex. It generates a thrilling experience as the brain frequencies of the people involved mirror each other. This effect, known as brain coupling, can be harnessed within the workplace to boost teamwork, creativity, and innovation. It can also be used to enhance social relationships.   

But to achieve this, there must be a break in the hierarchy and a shift in beliefs. The unified brain cannot work inside the current outdated chain of command with its rigid flow of ideas. The organizational structure can be maintained, but the communication structure must change. Ideas must be allowed to flow in as many different directions as possible—even across departments—to unlock higher levels of inspiration, collaboration, and innovation. Therefore, any strategy that optimizes sharing of ideas should be encouraged.

Actions to take

Evolving Your Identity

“Sometimes in life, you have to destroy what is merely good to allow what is truly great to enter.”

Destruction can be a painful process, especially when you lose something important to you. It could be a job loss, business collapse, a divorce, or moving to a far-off country. You’re forced to confront many unknowns as you rebuild a new life from the ashes of the old. 

However, there are times when the destruction of a part of your life allows you to become a newer and better person. In such moments, you’re asked to shift your identity and evolve into a new individual. It is this new identity that then inspires you to create change in your world.

To experience an identity shift, you must change your self-perception about the world. Life doesn’t give you what you want. It gives you who you are. This is why vision boards and creative visualizations rarely work. If what you desire doesn’t resonate with who you truly are, the universe won’t give it to you. On top of that, we falsely believe that work must be hard, and the harder you work, the higher your chances of success. But many entrepreneurs have proven that you don’t have to spend 18 hours daily sacrificing your health and relationships to find success.

Instead of falling for this societal myth, understand that life is about your soul experience. The soul’s experience is not about toil and goal achievement. It’s about freedom, ease, and expansion. Life is about transforming your soul by adopting a new identity based on your spiritual and physical existence. This means merging your inner Buddha with your inner badass. Like the Buddha, you can live a life of flow and grace where your desires naturally gravitate toward you.  As the badass, you’re the change-maker who creates systems and structures that push humanity forward. Therefore, to reveal your core identity, you must envision the life you want, create an identity around it, and adopt a new mindset.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning