You don’t have to spend 10 years in a Monastery and give up all pleasures to find enlightenment. This is what Vedran Rasic discovered last December. You will now read the story of Vedran, an entrepreneur who was hit twice in the headwith a baseball bat by four guys. The police had to intervene and when the ambulance arrived to take him to the emergency room, Vedran thought he may have incurred severe, long-term brain damage.
If you can see yourself do what Vedran did, his story will inspire you. Vedran kindly agreed to me sharing his story openly, so you will find a copy of the email I received from Vedran, at the end of this story.
Chapter 1: The day we met.
Vedran contacted me via LinkedIn in August because he wanted help to grow his business.
I don’t coach people who are only after making money, so I asked him to dig deeper. What Vedran really wanted was to "help people grow, and leave unproductive, boring things aside to robots”.
I liked the idea, so for the next 6 weeks, I asked Vedran a bunch of questions by email, to go deep into his real purpose. He diligently answered all my questions, and showed a willingness to fail and get uncomfortable. In one email he wrote:
"For my whole life I was complaining (maybe a better word in English is = wail / lament etc). Complaining. Complaining. I want to change that."
When he convinced me that his commitment to change was beyond “curious interest", I invited him for a coaching conversation in October.
Like everyone I know (myself included), Vedran had conflicting desires and priorities: parts of him wanted change, other parts didn’t.
When we have a lack of clarity as to what we REALLY want, the pull in different directions is strenuous and causes us to lose focus. As a result we can’t make a clear commitment.
To help him with being pulled in different directions, Vedran was invited to a challenge that he completed dutifully: he created a spreadsheet to sort through the voices in his head. You can do a light version of the exercise if you follow the instructions at the bottom of this article. Vedran did the exercise, but he wasn’t impressed. Both his personal and professional lives seemed to be thriving without the need for our work, and he sent me an email saying:
“it helped me to map my mind a bit”
"I don't find time to structurally focus on those voices”.
If I hadn’t engaged with over 25,000 people in the last 10 years, I would have thought he’d never get back to me because I hadn’t coached him well enough.
The shock that woke him, arrived faster than I had expected: within 2 weeks he wrote me a long email about his 5-year relationship breaking down. It suddenly felt like the world had collapsed on his shoulders, and that everything in his life had turned into a disaster.
In this email, he wrote:
"I see her as my wife. I still believe she can be that. But does she want?”.
"I assume a lot about her. She is this, she is that. She feels/she doesn't.”
"I so want to help her but I cant help myself either."
For the first time since he had contacted me, Vedran understood that he couldn’t help himself and even more importantly, he admitted not knowing.
Seeing our own limitations, and accepting that we don’t know are two major components to making massive leaps in personal growth. That’s why I knew that Vedran was now ready to make a real commitment to himself…and I had no idea how true this would be!
When this happened, I was in the middle of a three-week tour in London to deliver training, speaking and coaching. It meant that the only free hour I had that week was between two meetings the next day. Vedran was in so much distress, and had such a genuine desire to grow, that I offered to call him the next day. Instead of taking the tube, I walked for an hour from one meeting to the next, so that I could coach him on the phone. Vedran was at a business event and took an hour out of it to call my mobile, all the way from his home country.
During our coaching, Vedran got to talk about who he REALLY is and what he REALLY wants. He came to realize that he cannot control his girlfriend or anyone else. He understood that whatever happens to him, is the best thing that can happen. He also understood that others make their own decisions, and that the best thing you can do is to be yourself fully.
I eventually asked:
“If you were REALLY being Vedran, without fears and without all the noise in your head, what would you do that you’re not doing now? And who would you be that you’re not being now?"
Vedran made a list of 7 things that if he was REALLY being himself, he would do every day for 20 minutes each. That meant two hours and twenty minutes a day of focused attention and actions, which are in line with who he really is. It’s a big commitment, so I asked him if he was really going to do these things, and he said “yes”.
I already knew a bit about him so I asked a more precise question, “so are you saying that you’re actually going to focus for two hours and twenty minutes every day, on top of your regular job, your six-hour of commute a day, the company you’re starting, your social life and moving apartment?"
To make sure we understood each other clearly, I asked again “are you saying that you will work on these 7 areas for a total of two hours and twenty minutes, every single day including weekend?”
I was curious to hear for how long he was going to commit to doing this so I asked.
“Until the 1st of January”.
It was just over 2 months from the day of our conversation, so I asked again to make sure he wasn’t changing his mind: “so you’re saying you’re going to work on these 7 areas for a total of two hours, twenty minutes every single day including weekend, for the next 2 months?"
I asked a final time: “You’re ACTUALLY going to do this?"
I knew from our first conversation that he couldn’t afford my regular coaching program, so I made him an offer that I’d never done with anyone else. He was so passionately committed that I couldn’t not offer my help:
If you are being yourself every day for 7 days - ie. complete 20 minutes for ALL of your 7 areas of being Vedran - I will offer you a Deep Reflection written coaching course, and if you are being yourself for 14 days, I will offer you a one-hour coaching conversation via Skype."
I added "I know you can’t afford my regular coaching: if I make this commitment to you, what financial commitment are you ready to make that will convince me you’re serious about this? And I won’t be offended by any amount you say, no matter how little it is."
He said that he was ready to commit 15% of his income to being himself, and agreed to my conditions. In the absolute, it’s the lowest I’ve ever been paid for coaching… but relative to one’s income, it was probably the highest ever paying coaching client, so I couldn’t stop thinking:
“This guy is ready to pay 15% of his income upfront, and if he doesn't do EVERYTHING he said he would, he doesn’t get any coaching... that's pretty serious commitment! He has to REALLY believe he will do everything he said!”
I was impressed so I gave him a day to think it over. The next day he confirmed that he was “in”, agreed in writing to all conditions, and within a few days he had gathered the money to pay me: now there was no way back for him.
He created his Daily Greatness spreadsheet with the 7 actions to take every day.
I was excited to see the result of this “special offer”, and when I looked at the first day result… he had failed to do what he committed to.
He failed the FIRST DAY of his coaching program!!
Let me tell you: I wasn’t impressed. And it got even worst:
For the first 3 days, he didn’t complete all actions he had committed to so I emailed him saying that if he continued like that, he was wasting his money. I like to serve my clients, to see them grow, and I don’t want people wasting their money.
He sent me a long email back that started with: "What's going on would be a bunch of excuses."… and then followed through with a bunch of excuses.
The good news was that my message had hit home: the 4th day was a success.
So was the 5th.
And the 6th.
And then Vedran went through a 15-day streak of successfully being himself, for two hours and twenty minutes every day, including weekends. All of this despite 10 to 12-hour working days and a 6-hour daily commute.
Fast forward 45 days later, and he has completed 32 days of being himself fully. In 45 days, he has spent over 220 hours doing what he really wanted to do. On top of his massive commitment towards deep reflection - for one of his written coaching courses he worked for 9 hours - he spent over 15 hours focusing on his mission and purpose, 14 hours meditating, and over 140 hours growing his business.
His new business was ready to take off, he was emotionally stable and meeting new people. He was back into a healthy routine and everything was getting better in his life. There were less and less clouds in his life, so he was happy.
Then he got hit twice by a baseball bat on the head, and was sent to the hospital.
The following day he sent me this email:
I was in my photo-shoot session on the 18th. It was amazing and interesting. We had a great time. Then we met some old friends. Had couple of drinks, went out.
At around 3.30am, I was going for a ride back to [CITY], and some girls were standing outside, and we exchanged some looks.
Then, guys came on us, one has tried to hit me, I managed to avoid, and hit him back.
Then the other guy took a baseball stick, and hit me 2x times on the back of my head.
I am ok now. Relaxing. It doesn't even hurt so much.
That night I've tried to be objective, and say that for sure, I did something as well.
Now after my friends confirmed that I didn't even talk to those girls, and that 1st time I tried to avoid the fight, then came the 2nd case, where the guy decided to hit me.
So the point is:
- I am thankful that I am alive, and that everything is okay - That I have friends with me who helped me - That I still have a lot to learn about observing the situation, and understanding the motives behind something
** in the emergency center, all the doctors and m-sisters were around me, literally we had something like a party :) because I was super positive and grateful to have them helping me.
We'll talk very soon my friend.
He later told me during his next coaching session:
“It was amazing, really, to go through that experience, to see that friends are there for you, to see that you know… “fuck it” because I didn’t know what happened to me… I didn’t know if I’d have brain damage, or if something was going to happen to my body… and I was like: it just happened, and now I’m going to make the best out of it… and make sure my friends are feeling OK, that the doctors are having fun, and that I’m not just a random guy feeling hatred, but the opposite… to share love. And I was so happy, I cannot explain to you…"
I couldn’t stop thinking about what Byron Katie said, because Vedran loved being hit on the head, and sent to hospital.
He has reached the level of enlightenment at which he can see that everything that happens to him is the best thing that can happen. He can now have his car towed, and love it. In just 45 days, Vedran went from being scared, angry and sad, to being enlightened.
He achieved this because he was deeply committed, he followed a thorough and focused routine, faced his fears during our conversations, in real life, and learned to know himself better than ever before.
He learned to be comfortable with a wide range of emotions, and learned to let anger and pain flow through him. He became skilled at using various techniques to “think about thinking”, and he practiced the art of seeing problems as blessings in disguise.
You can achieve what Vedran has achieved, if you follow a few steps I will guide you through:
ACTION 1: Take a moment to think about all the problems in your life driving you crazy / something or someone that angers you / frustrates you / disappoints you
ACTION 2: Next to each statement answer the question “when you think of this problem, how do you react / behave?”
ACTION 3: Next to each statement answer the question "if this problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise, what difference would it make to you?”
Like Vedran, you can learn that all the problems you’ve listed only exist because you think they do. All your problems are about you: it’s not about your wife or your husband, it’s not about your mum or your dad, it’s not about your boss or clients, it’s not about your children or anyone else.
It is about the commitment you make to yourself about being you. At the end of the day, you’re stuck with your thoughts. It only really matters what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror, and the stories you tell yourself about what happens to you.
Vedran got enlightened through two hours and twenty minutes of focused attention for 45 days. He didn’t know it was going to happen, and there was no magic to it. If you get as much clarity about what you want as this entrepreneur did, it will be impossible for you NOT to put in the commitment and dedication he made. If you make an extraordinary commitment, you will get extraordinary changes.
'Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.’ - Aldous Huxley
If you want to be amazed by what you’ve achieved, and who you’ve become when you look at yourself in the mirror, you can make YOUR commitment right now. Start by answering the three questions above. When you’re done, you have the chance to make a massive commitment, a chance to turn all these problems into great things in your life.
Now you’ve got to make a commitment you can’t walk away from.
Make it public, if it’ll make your commitment stronger.
Write it in big letters in your bedroom, your bathroom, your office, and as your computer and mobile wallpaper.
Do something every day to remind you of who you are.
Set reminders to take massive daily actions.
Get a coach. All the best people have coaches: take 47 seconds to hear what Bill Gates and Erik Schmit say about having a coach:
I discovered the power of having a coach when I started judo at 6 years old. Since then I’ve never looked back, and had more coaches than anyone I know. Investing in a coach makes your commitment real, and gives you the continuous support you need to go through the tough times and challenges ahead.
And this is not an advertisment for myself, because my coaching is not for everyone: my time is limited, I only work with people who are creating masterpieces in their life and work, and I can only take so many coaching clients a year.
This is an encouragement for everyone to get a coach, because there are plenty of great coaches out there, and every coach has his / her own individual styles, methods, structures, fees, and areas of interest.
For example, I’ve just finished a program with a business coach (JP Morgan Jnr), and right away I started a new program with an internet business coach (Nathan J Thomas). I also work with a spiritual coach (Chris Morris) and an art coach (Ralph de Lange), because they’re all people who push to me improve the areas of my life that are important to me. Whatever area of my life is important, I get a coach to help me see myself from the outside, and commit to making change happen. And it works: just look at my about.me page to see what coaching has done for me.
For everyone who’s reading this article, there is at least one coach waiting.
Whatever personality or area of your life you want to change / improve, there are tons of coaches who can guide you.
You don’t have to say “yes” to the first coach you talk to.
ACTION 4: Make a list of all areas in your life that you want improvement in. Then rank them from most important to least.
ACTION 5: If, like Vedran, you were to make a massive commitment to improve in the top 3 areas you wrote about, what difference would it make for you?
ACTION 6: Write down the commitment you want to make, and reach out to 3 coaches to explore which one works best for you.
Here's what Vedran said at the end of his coaching program:
"There is one ultimately big difference that it did for me: I do feel happy. At the end of the day, this is really what matters. I accepted myself, obviously not fully and I still thrive for it, but I do to a certain point. I moved more towards the actions I wanted to take. More and more, I feel these sensations of true happiness… in small things. I am being 100% of who I am. And now I want to push it even further, and share it with other people, and to help other people feel that as well. This is the exact difference that I see. It is buried in all my daily actions."
Keep creating, keep shining, Noam