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The Rediff Interview/Robin Sharma
'The greatest risk in life is not taking any risks'
October 18, 2005
Robin Sharma, author of the bestselling The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, was in India recently for the release of its translations in Hindi and Marathi.
Sharma, author of six other bestsellers on spirituality and leadership, is widely recognised as an expert speaker on personal growth and performance.
A lawyer, he began writing after he went through a spiritual transformation. rediff.com Deputy Chief Copy Editor Dominic Alapat spoke to Sharma at the Oxford Bookstore in Mumbai, during an author-reader interactive session.
Tell us about your background.
My father is from Jammu and Kashmir. My mother is also of Indian origin. She grew up in Nairobi. I come from humble beginnings. I grew up on the east coast of Canada in a town of 2,000 people, and went to Dalhousie Law School (Halifax, Nova Scotia). I am a small town guy.
You were a successful lawyer. When did you decide to become a writer? Was there any specific incident that led to it?
I was a very unhappy lawyer, just like Julian Mantle in my book. I was successful and led a fast-paced life. Just like Julian went on a search for meaning and the secret of happiness, I too went on my search. I read more, thought a lot, talked to many people. I experienced a profound transformation in myself as a human being.
What caused me to write was the thought that if an ordinary man like me could make such a big change, I ought to share those ideas with others.
Did you go to writing school or attend any writing programmes?
No, I write with my own passion.
What elements of Western and Eastern spiritual traditions can an individual, living in an increasingly global world, adopt in life?
Firstly, the importance of waking up at 5 am daily -- the holy hour. That is the time to read, think, listen to beautiful music, write in a journal and exercise. I consider waking up early to be a very Eastern practice.
Secondly, run towards, not away from your fears. The fears you do not face then become your walls.
The greatest risk in life is not taking any risks.
Risk-taking is more of a Western concept.
You should enjoy the journey of life when you climb the mountain.
Another Eastern thought is it is not only important to be successful, but also significant.
Happiness comes from what we give, not what we get.
Like Julian Mantle, there are many professionals in India who lead lives packed with work, deadlines and parties. What advice would you like to give them?
Please don't be so busy that you miss out on what's most important in life.
Yes, reach out for your best and find success, but also remember that no obituary ever said, 'He died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his accountant, his stockbroker and his lawyer.'
Who are the authors, past and present, you admire most?
Herman Hesse (Siddhartha), Khalil Gibran (The Prophet), Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale. I also enjoyed Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.
You have written many books. You also give lectures to corporate houses on leadership and life management. What are your plans for the future?
I have been overwhelmed by the response of Indian companies who have engaged me to do leadership development programmes with them. I not only write books, but also spend most of my time helping companies develop leaders.
I work with companies like Nike, Microsoft, IBM and Fedex. I also want to make music with a positive message. I play the guitar. I would like to bring out a CD someday. I want to get more involved in peace efforts too.
The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari is going to be made into a film. Can you tell us something about it?
Yes, it will be made into a film in 2007.
We are talking to a major Hollywood star. It would be too early to mention names. I will also be acting in it.
Like Julian Mantle, you are a busy man today -- what with the writing, the lectures and travelling. Do you feel the heat sometimes?
Very rarely, because I'm doing what I love to do. I've got inner peace. I'm very good at time management. So my life is very balanced.
For more about Robin Sharma, drop by his web site.
The Rediff Interviews