Scott Mcculloch is Editor of Families in Business magazine.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
By Deepak Chopra, Bantam Press
Who doesn't want fabulous success? Perhaps the question should be: 'How do you define success?' Or happiness for that matter. That, says mind-body medicine mogul Deepak Chopra, is the goal of goals and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is intended to chart the course towards them. When Chopra first wrote this modest tome in 1994, it shot up the best-seller list. Ten years on it's as relevant as ever. This, his eighth and arguably most important book, is a cracking read – appealing as much to highflying entrepreneurs as the man on the street.
Begin with positive thinking, then add a belief in predestination and a modicum of Eastern Philosophy. Spare us the New Age mumbo jumbo, you say? Hold on a minute. You would be forgiven for thinking Chopra was another modern day charlatan in a pair of suede Guccis, whose stock in trade is preying on the countless souls seeking a little peace of mind and a short cut to paying off their credit card debt.
The endocrinologist, born in New Delhi, cracked the best-seller list in 1993 with Ageless Body Timeless Mind, a discussion of alternative medicine and healthful attitude. Chopra – who before he became a medical guru previously taught at Tufts University and Boston University schools of medicine and served as chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital – prescribes the 'ecstasy of silence' as one antidote to our noise-polluted world. A world that exacts a high cost, he says, in stress, heart attacks, and compromised function of your immune system.
What does this have to with business or family businesses for that matter? In a word: everything. Whether you're an entrepreneur with the loftiest of goals, a manager keen to sharpen your skills or just trying to become a better person, Chopra just might have something for you. The fact that he has his foot in both worlds has galvanised his credibility in the West. His credentials are acknowledged by the American Medical Association and he has studied the Eastern world. He is able to integrate the two, and bring out the best of both, say his supporters. But it's the simplicity of his work that appeals. Goal seekers like tool kits and Chopra had a utilitarian product in mind when he put pen to paper.
He calls Seven Steps a practical guide to the fulfilment of dreams. That fires the imagination. The book itself prods us to act on our dreams by unravelling the mystery of choice, generosity and purpose in life, among others. The key, of course, lies in integrating and applying all seven steps, or chapters, in tandem. With practice, Chopra assures us success is within our grasp. It's a tantalising notion, so much so that when readers apply the steps to days of the week the practice becomes second nature.
The author has distilled the best bits of his earlier work – Creating Affluence – into the 116 pages that make up Seven Spiritual Laws. Given the book's depth and brevity it's hard to disagree. Consider the first law – the Law of Pure Potentiality. "We live in a field of infinite possibilities," writes Chopra. "You and I are essentially infinite choice makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices." This is his stab at bringing quantum physics out of the lab and into the mind of the humble goal seeker. The book doesn't come off as dumbed down science, but rather a series of soothingly reasonable statements from an affable, learned doctor. It's a sort of common sense approach to reviewing our lot to help point the way forward. For some, the concept of choice and all its mystery will go from a practice filled with trepidation to one of fun. "Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening at this moment is the result of the choices you've made in the past. Unfortunately, a lot of us make choices unconsciously, and therefore we don't think they are choices – and yet, they are." In other words, I'm sitting here typing because I have chosen to. You can't disprove the purest of logic. So how do we fulfil our deeper dreams? Turn to the chapter on intention and desire.
Teilhard de Chardin, the visionary French Jesuit, said: "We are spiritual beings having a human experience." Chopra builds on this powerful thought. He explains the laws of pure potentiality, giving, karma, least effort, intention and desire, detachment, and dharma (life purpose) and includes useful suggestions on how to apply these natural principles if one is truly searching for purpose and satisfaction. Anyone for success?