Review: Code of the Extraordinary Mind
WHAT IS THIS BOOK?
CEM is a passionate self-help book that offers a road map for radical individualism. Written by Vishen Lakhiani (trained as a computer engineer and now a personal growth entrepreneur), CEM offers a series of “laws” designed to help a person break free from the limits of their culture and education, to replace outmoded ideas with better beliefs and habits, and to become happy in the now, while setting heartfelt goals that amplify future happiness. The book is also an autobiographic journey tracking how the author came to believe these laws (he experienced a series of failures that led ultimately to successes).
WHY SHOULD YOU READ IT?
So many people who are depressed are stuck. Being stuck means losing vision, hope, goals, and the energy to pursue goals. While CEM has appeal for anyone interested in self-improvement, it's particularly relevant to the DA audience as a book for getting a person unstuck.
The premise of CEM is that there's value in rebuilding your life from the ground up. A first step is to question your views and beliefs. CEM provides tools to take a deep dive into virtually everything you might think you know about how the world works— about love, education, spirituality, work, happiness or love — and sort out which beliefs you're following out of drift — what he calls Brules (short for bullsh*t rules). Brules get passed unthinkingly from generation to generation. You shouldn't follow Brules. You should only follow beliefs that are authentically yours.
Using the extended analogy of hardware and software upgrades, Lakhiani helps the reader see how his/her particular background may have programmed beliefs and habits. He makes the excellent point that while we rush to upgrade to the latest devices and systems updates for our new phone or computer, we rarely give the same attention to upgrading our own models of reality and systems for living. Upgrading habits and routines may sound like an abstract proposition, but CEM makes this enterprise surprisingly concrete and practical: Each concept is illustrated with stories from Lakhiani's life or snippets from entertaining interviews with eminent non-conformists.
The book is bold, but this does not mean all the ideas in CEM are original. In considering how people upgrade their lives, many of his "transcendent practices" are likely familiar from other self-help books—gratitude, forgiveness, self-love, positive visualization, and the ability to see failure and difficult times as opportunities for growth. Despite this overlap, CEM still feels like an original synthesis, spoken in a unique voice.
CEM is clearly written and well structured. The 10 laws provide signposts throughout, and the text is peppered with straightforward 'exercises' to reinforce understanding. And if you want more of anything, don't worry; there is much more on-line on an elaborate companion website. If you zone out during any of his lessons, don't worry. Lakhiani is a good teacher; he has a recap chapter at the end to help drive home all the major points.
To give you a little bit of the flavor for his teachings, here are some select quotes from CEM.
"The key to being extraordinary is knowing what rules to follow and what rules to break."
"Culture isn't static. It lives and breathes
"The brules [ bulls*it rules ] of the father should not be passed to the son."
"You're choosing what to believe, and your life is yours to control."
"Giving is a powerful system for bringing bliss into your life."
"Your true greatness comes when you focus not on building a career but on finding your quest"
The author is proud, intensely passionate, and enthusiastic about his journey and his message. CEM strikes an evangelical tone, which some readers might find grandiose. There might be one too many anecdotes about his famous friends (including Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, and Ken Wilber). However indulgent, the stories do serve the book.
A vital self-help book for charting a new course in life.
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