Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks

If you read my previous post you know that I committed, publically, to reading 2500 books in my lifetime. I want to share the wisdom, or the lack of wisdom, from those books with you. It would be selfish to keep that information all to myself and not give it away. Hopefully, someday you will read something on this site that will help you in your life.

Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks was given to me by my boss Wayne. It is not a book that I would have ever picked up on my own walking through the bookstore, and I know why. My bias is directly linked to my flawed thinking. In this particular instance, thinking that I don’t need the wisdom or knowledge of these monks. Because “us” on the outside don’t know what “they” are doing. They seem weird, right? They don’t speak, they dress funny. What could I learn from them? I put off reading this book for months.

Well, let me tell you I had to eat a nice big piece of humble pie… again.

An extremely quick rundown…

The author August Turak is an extremely successful entrepreneur and executive. He has started multiple multimillion dollar businesses. However, during his journey, he experienced a few hardships and finds himself at the Mepkin Abby in South Carolina to try and turn somethings around. While there he witnesses how the monks sustain their lives through their various businesses and their interaction with the secular world. The monks are business savants and August walks us through why that is. He also relates the lessons to his own businesses and shows that any person or organization can be some successful by doing what the monks do.

Business Secrets Trappist Monks

The reason for their business success is comically simple…

The monks focus their lives and therefore their business decisions around service and selflessness. Their success is just a byproduct of living that ideology. 

Clearly, this is the complete opposite of what comes to mind when we think about business, profit, and capitalism. But the amazing thing is they succeed in inconceivable ways not in spite of their selflessness, but because of it.

Most of this book has nothing to do with business. It is mainly a story of how in the process of trying to become a better person you will learn the lessons of becoming better at business. I would go further and say not just business but every area of your life.

Some of the themes and concepts that resonated with me are below. (Some are direct quotes, some are my paraphrasing).

  • The purpose of every human life, whether we realize it or not, is to be transformed from a selfish into a selfless person.
  • While it may seem like we want an easy life of self-indulgence and immediate gratification, if we look a little closer, we would probably admit that we are most satisfied when we are selflessly sacrificing for something eminently worthwhile.
  • Go first – Whatever we want from others we must have the courage to offer first.
  • If the singular focus is selflessness and service the money (or success, or contentment) will come. The less you worry about making money the more you will make.
  • Profit is not the goal of a business. It is merely a yardstick that measures how well we are accomplishing our true mission. If we are serving our clients better than every other competitor out there, then, the money to support our mission will flow to us freely.
  • Putting people first is more important than making money.
  • We are happiest and most satisfied in our lives when we are sacrificing for something bigger than ourselves.

You know that I write a lot about self-improvement. It is a path that I am on, and I intend to stay on the path for the long haul. This book helped me take a huge step down that path. It has really coalesced some concepts that I have been working on in a way that I haven’t heard before. It helped to elevate my thinking and became another tool that has exposed my flaws.

I showed you a picture of a quote from the book in my last post. Here is another one. This sentence sums up everything.

Business secrets

I fully agree with this sentence. Trying to be the best human being I can possibly be will only bring success and happiness. And being the best possible human being I can be is to be on a journey of attaining complete selflessness through serving all other humans.

This book hit me deep. Much deeper than I ever expected. Especially for a book I would have never picked up on my own.

It hits the bullseye of what we do at our firm. I want to be the best I can be in my profession. To be the best we must serve and be selfless. Those ideals make up the river that runs through the whole culture of the organization. We only do what is in the best interest of our clients. Putting clients interests ahead of our own is how we serve selflessly. You would think that all businesses in all industries would put such a focus on their clients. Afterall, without clients and customers, there is no business. Sadly, that thinking just isn’t so.

The great thing about trying to be better is the journey is a continuum. There is no finish line so there will always be room for improvement. You can always progress and get better. There is always something to work towards and someone to serve.

I hope I am serving the best that I can.



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