February 24, 2021 by Dymphna

What the monk said shocked them!

One monk’s take on seriousness

Money is a serious business.

Well, it is and it isn’t.

But some people take it very, very seriously.

You should see some of the people that come to me. First day (back when we used to do live events.. sob!), they’d have everything in colour-coded folders. Pencil’s sharpened, highlighters ready. A set of spare pencils and highlighters in their bag, and another in the car.

They had their bums on the seats, 10 minutes before kick off, eyes front and centre.

And look. That’s awesome. I love to see a student take it seriously. I get more inspired to invest in someone if I know that they’re taking it that seriously.

But there’s an important difference between “committed” and “serious.”

Commitment is useful. Seriousness… not so much.

It’s like that story I love about the famous Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on his first trip to America.

He had entered the monastery at age sixteen, and had lived through the horrors of the Vietnam war.

So when he was invited to speak at a Zen Centre in San Francisco, people were expecting them to lay down some strict guidelines for how to practice.

People probably thought he was going to hit them with a bamboo stick or something.

But when they asked him what they could do to be better students – to improve their practice and advance along the long and gruelling road to enlightenment, they got a surprise.

Thich Nhat Han said:

“You guys get up too early for one thing; you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.”


Just breathe. Just smile.

(Sounds simple, but see how long you can do ‘just’ that.)

I think the old imperial school system has done most of us a massive disservice.

We think we’re only learning if we’re quiet and focused and sitting down and taking good notes.

We think we’re only learning if we’re miserable.

But we’ve got to have fun. I think the science of learning is even showing us now that people learn more and retain more when they’re having fun.

And I’m here to tell you, as crazy as it sounds, making money is fun. Learning how to make money is fun.

Of course it is.

So we need to go into it lightly. We need to let our system relax and have a little fun with it.

Serious is not sustainable. If we’re going to be able to follow the long road, then we need to let ourselves have a little fun, and travel lightly.

So yes, bring your committed self. Bring all the commitment you’ve got.

But don’t think you’re doing anyone any favours by getting all ‘serious’.

And that’s true whether you’re with me…

… in a monastery…

… or anywhere at all.