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The Code of the Extraordinary Mind

by Vishen Lakhiani
clock21-minute read
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The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
A self-help guide to learning how to break free from the shackles of society and seek happiness and success by adopting the code of the extraordinary mind. What if I told you that all the ideas you think you know about love, education, religion, and happiness are all a bunch of Brules? That’s Lakhiani’s term for bulls**t rules. Generations and generations of people continue to pass these Brules down, but whose decision was it to continue following these outdated customs? These rules are long past their expiration date and it’s time to abandon them. Lakhiani suggests that everything we know about the world is shaped by habit and conformist beliefs, everything from love, work, religion, health, parenting, and more. It’s time to look past these rules and redefine your happiness and purpose. What could your life look like if you abandoned what you think you knew and created a new life for yourself?
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The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
"The Code of the Extraordinary Mind" Summary
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Summary by Lea Schullery. Audiobook narrated by Blake Farha
Throughout The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen Lakhiani explores how successful people become extraordinary while he unlocks the code for achieving success. Lakhiani reveals ten laws that anyone can follow to transform their lives and achieve greatness. By teaching you how to question and challenge the rules around you, can begin to create new rules for your life which will lead to happiness and fulfillment. Through discarding the outdated models of reality, learning how to be happy in the present, and crafting a vision for the future, you can become an extraordinary mind and begin changing your life...or even the world. Anyone can apply these laws in his or her life today and live an extraordinary life.
Chapter 1: Transcend the Culturescape
You might be wondering exactly what a culturescape is. Well, a culturescape is simply a mass of human thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that saturates and influences your life in both conscious and unconscious ways. In other words, the culturescape is a set of arbitrary rules that society has placed which tells you how you should work, worship, love, marry, and even determine how you should measure your self-worth. Your beliefs are not necessarily a result of rational thought, but instead, a result of social contagion. Like sickness, beliefs spread from person to person without question or analysis.
For instance, author Vishen Lakhiani grew up in Malaysia where he was told by his parents and educators that smart kids were meant to grow up and become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. You may feel similar pressure in your life to go on to school, get an education, and work a job that pays the bills. Lakhiani felt this as well and because of this culturescape, he was pushed to study electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, setting aside his true interests in photography and performing arts. Throughout college, he even scored an internship at Microsoft, seemingly achieving the peak of success for any growing engineer. Unfortunately, like many young adults, he realized that Microsoft was not bringing him joy and ended up quitting. This decision opened Lakhiani’s eyes to a world of possibility, he took the first step in transcending the culturescape. As easily as un-following his ex on Instagram, Lakhiani un-followed the social rules that defined his life.
While pursuing a career in science and engineering may bring others joy, Lakhiani recognized that pursuing a “practical” career he had no passion for is a common occurrence among many young adults in today’s society. But why is this? Lakhiani believes it’s because we as a society subscribe to rules in our lives that aren’t necessarily meant to make us better or happy. These rules dictate how you should look and feel, which college you should go to and what you should study, they may even dictate what city you should live in and what type of job you should have. You and others you know may find yourselves taking jobs you have no interest in just to pay the bills and make ends meet, or live in places that you hate just so you can save up for that “dream” home. However, once you recognize that these arbitrary rules control your life, you can learn to break them and begin your path towards an extraordinary mind.
But where did these rules come from? Researchers suggest that Homo sapiens were able to survive due to their ability to communicate survival-related knowledge, preserve this knowledge, and pass it on for generations to come. Of course, communication and rapiddevelopment came with a cost. Suddenly, early men began to set base rules that governed their culture. Today, we now have a set of essential guidelines for survival mixed with a layer of half-true beliefs that humans have created to simplify the world around them. These half-truths make up the culturescape around you, they surround and influence you from the day you are born. Concepts like God, meditation, corporations, and states don’t necessarily exist in the real world, but they influence people’s lives in significant ways.
At the end of the day, we live in dual worlds: the world of hard truths like science and survival and the world of relative truths like cultural beliefs and society’s expectations. Relative truths steep into every aspect of your life and can significantly empower or limit you. Extraordinary minds select which rules to follow and which rules to ignore and consistently push themselves outside their comfort zone.
Chapter 2: Question the Brules
According to Lakhiani, much of how the world runs is based on bulls**t rules passed down from generation to generation. These are what he calls “Brules,” and they are simply outdated rules from the culturescape that we blindly follow, even though they can hinder us from pursuing our dreams. Take a look at the Brules surrounding our views on education. Society largely believes that a college degree will guarantee your success. However, the number of people with no college degrees working for blue-chip companies is on the rise, and a degree results in crippling life-long debt for many college graduates.
People also subscribe to the Brule that you should marry from your culture, race, or ethnicity. By doing so, you will please your family and community. Perhaps you also think you can only subscribe to a single religion. But confining yourself to just one religion limits you from opening your mind to a wide expanse of beautiful spiritual ideas. Lastly, another Brule considers that success only comes from hard work. This belief suggests that work can’t be exciting or fun, yet those who find joy in their work show more commitment and are more productive. Who says work can’t be fun? These are examples of Brules that control our lives whether we follow them consciously or unconsciously.
So how do we absorb the Brules of society? There are many ways this happens, but we begin to subscribe to these rules as early as childhood. Not only do children have malleable brains that make them easily receptive to cultural beliefs and practices, but also, how many times did you hear “because that’s the way it is” growing up? Certainly more than once, and probably often. This phrase becomes powerful when convincing our young mind that some topics and beliefs are beyond our control.
Additionally, we are influenced by authority figures like caregivers, relatives, educators, friends, and even political figures. Take a politician who incites fear among a specific social or religious group to garner support for his election or the parents who instill their religious and cultural beliefs onto their children. While Brules can certainly serve us positively at times, it’s important to question them as we grow older to see if they are serving us instead of hindering us. So how can you question these Brules?
Is the rule based on positive assumptions about humanity? Does it promote equality and kindness? Does the rule bother you? If a rule makes you uncomfortable, simply discard it. Is it a rational rule or a result of contagion? Determine if a socially conditioned rule is meant to serve you or others. Does the rule advance your happiness? Did you make decisions in your life to make yourself happy or to meet other’s expectations? As you begin your journey to an extraordinary mind, you’ll realize that abandoning and questioning these rules is frightening; your family, friends, and society might push back and take steps to try and conform you to their beliefs. But when you stand firm, the result will be well worth the trouble.
Extraordinary minds realize that most of the world runs on outdated rules, and they question the beliefs that are not in line with their vision of the world.
Chapter 3: Updating Your Hardware and Rewriting Your Models of Reality
Conscious engineering is like upgrading the software of your computer every so often. It’s unlikely that you still use Windows 95 or the first iOS mobile operating system. Instead, we upgrade our computers and devices to make them run faster and more efficient. You need to do the same for your consciousness and your mind.
Since you were born, you have accumulated beliefs that Lahkiani considers the models of reality. These beliefs are what shape your personality and your perception of the world like religion, politics, marriage, and education. While these beliefs are significant in shaping who you are, they can be changed as you adopt new models that serve you better. These models of reality are essentially the hardware of your life, and with hardware comes software as well. So what is the software of your life? These are simply your systems for living, in other words, your habits. The way you eat, exercise, work, and deal with money are all a part of your software that determines how you utilize your hardware. For instance, say your hardware and model of reality states that killing animals is wrong, then your software and system of living would guide you to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Practicing conscious engineering will allow you to grow, but how do you start? By remembering that your models of reality are shaped by the “reality” of the world, you can recognize that these models are not absolute. In fact, every aspect of culture is both questionable and malleable. Conscious engineering is a process, but you can speed up your quest for change by focusing on the twelve areas of life that need engineering: ●Break: Your romantic relationship - how happy are you with your current status? ●Break: Your friendships - how strong is your emotional network? ●Break: Your adventures - how much time do you have for new experiences? ●Break: Your environment - what is the quality of your work and personal spaces?S ●Break: Your health and fitness - what is the quality of your general health condition? ●Break: Your intellectual life - how much and how fast are you learning? ●Break: Your skills - are you growing the skills you need to succeed? ●Break: Your spiritual life - how often do you meditate or partake in spiritual exercises? ●Break: Your career - is your career or business growing?●Break: Your creative life - do you partake in activities that boost your creativity? ●Break: Your family life - how happy are you with your family, parents, and siblings? ●Break: Your community life - what contributions do you make to your community?
Through conscious engineering, you can continue to update the software and hardware of your life. This leads to the fourth law of rewriting your models of reality, or your hardware. Lakhani suggests that extraordinary people differ from others because their mental models empower them to feel good about themselves, and allow them to alter the world in line with their vision. For instance, Lakhani was able to alter his model of reality once he found himself at a party talking to the hottest girl in the room. You see, before this party, Lakhani struggled to think positively about himself, growing up he had thick glasses and struggled with acne, so self-esteem was never his strong suit. But now in college, this hot girl is gushing at just how good-looking he is. This experience allowed him to update his hardware, he was able to see himself in a new light and he told himself that he was attractive. Once he updated the model of reality that dictated how he should look, he had a newfound confidence that took his dating life to a new level.
Chapter 4: Upgrade Your Software and Bend Your Reality
Of course, once you start updating your hardware, your software will need to be updated as well. Your software, remember, is the system of living that you adopt, your habits. For instance, your eating and exercise routines, the way you dress, and even the way you handle your relationships, all of these are your systems. Think of your systems as if they were apps on your phone. Once a new version of an app comes out, what do you do? You can update the app and will likely experience an improved version. If you consistently update your own software, you’ll see improvements in your life as well!
There are plenty of ways in which you can update and refresh your systems. Lakhiani implements a three-step-approach of discovering, refreshing, and measuring. The first step of discovering can be practiced through reading a wide range of nonfiction books, attending conferences, taking online classes, or simply engaging in conversations with the people around you. Think of the discovery as turning on your phone and browsing the App Store. Which apps can you download that will improve your life and help you grow?
The second step is to refresh your systems regularly. Your refresh rate is the time you take to update or acquire new systems. An example of refreshing your software would be implementing a new workout routine. For example, Lakhiani adopts a new workout routine each year. One year he tried Christine Bullock’s Total Transformation program and the next he simply tried using kettlebells. Perhaps in your own life, you can try a new exercise program or simply begin attending spin or yoga classes to refresh your system. The final step in updating your software is to measure how effective your systems are. Lakhiani measures his fitness goals simply by tracking the notches on his belt; however, you can measure your own systems by setting goals in your life. Perhaps you want a specific number in your bank account, a number of books you want to read each week, or a number of hours you wish to spend with your family and friends. Set a measurement for success and you’ll certainly see which systems are working for you and which ones you can update.
Once you have a system for discovering, refreshing and measuring your systems, you can begin to recode yourself. Recoding isn’t quite as invasive as it sounds, it merely involves questioning what it means to be happy and successful. You see, happiness exists in your mind, you have the power to stop postponing your happiness and become happy right now. For instance, Lakhiani realized the significance of changing his mindset when building his company. He was so focused and stressed about revenue goals that he failed to live in the present. He learned that he needed to bend his reality and operate in the here and now. By making fun and happiness a priority in his daily life, Lakhiani soon saw his company’s revenue skyrocket.
Chapter 5: Live in Blissipline and Create a Vision For Your Future
You’ve felt happiness before. Perhaps you have felt it when you scored that new job, when your favorite sports team won that championship, or when you successfully got a cute girl's number. These short, powerful bouts of happiness come fast but they leave just as quickly. What if I told you that you could feel this type of happiness all the time? It might sound too good to be true, but by applying three separate systems, you can hack the cycle to enjoy higher levels of happiness every day.
This system is what Lahkiani calls blissipline, and blissipline begins with gratitude. Practicing gratitude not only increases your forgiveness, energy levels, and social connectedness, but it also decreases levels of anxiety and depression. To practice gratitude, you must look at your past. Entrepreneurial coach, Dan Sullivan, suggests that you switch to your “reverse gap.” This idea suggests that, as humans, we are trained to look at our present selves and our future selves. When we focus on who we want to be, we are focused on our future gap; however, the problem with our future gap is that it suggests that we can’t be happy in the present, instead, we believe we can only be happy when we achieve everything that we want to accomplish.
If you switch to your reverse gap, however, you can look at your past and become grateful for your journey. You can appreciate how much you have learned and grown over the years. Begin by listing or thinking about five things you are grateful for in your personal and work life each day. Additionally, you should practice forgiveness and giving to truly achieve happiness and bliss.
Now that you know how to achieve blissipline, it’s time to create a vision for your future. Creating a vision is not simply about setting goals, but it’s about setting the right goals. It’s important to set end goals versus means goals. Means goals are those that society tells us we need to be happy like goals centered around achieving a specific income or being with a certain person. End goals, however, bring joy themselves, they are about being truly happy, making positive changes, and experiencing love. End goals are the goals you pursue without the expectation of a material reward or social recognition. To help ensure that you are setting end goals instead of means goals, ask yourself the following questions: ●Break: What experiences do you want to live through - in your love relationships, friendships, adventures, and your environment?●Break: How do you want to grow - in your health and fitness, intellectual and spiritual life, and skills? ●Break: What contributions do you want to make - in your creative life, family, community life, and career? Think about what will bring you happiness, set goals, and begin your journey to an extraordinary mind.
Chapter 6: Be Unfuckwithable and Embrace Your Quest
How do you seek validation? Perhaps you find happiness from others; however, to be extraordinary you must learn how to ignore an outsider’s praise or criticism. In fact, the essence of being extraordinary means having an internal validation system. Extraordinary people don’t seek validation from others, they simply seek happiness from within. This leads us to the next law: be unfuckwithable. This simply means that you recognize you are dependent on yourself and that no one else can stop you from chasing your dreams.
Being unfuckwithable consists of two components, the first being having self-fueled goals. What’s a self-fueled goal? It means that you have complete control over your goals and no outside force or person can ever take them away. For instance, the goal of getting married is not self-fueled since that is completely dependent on finding someone that both loves and wants to marry you as well. Instead, you should aim for constantly surrounding yourself with love in any form. You see, self-fueled goals free you from depending on others and puts the power back into your hands.
The second component of being unfuckwithable is realizing that you are enough. More often than not, children grow up seeking validation from others to prove that they are enough. The result? When that validation is not given, they begin to blame others for the problems in their life. For example, when someone blames their boss for not appreciating their hard work, or when someone blames their spouse for not making them happy. To be unfuckwithable, you must stop seeking external validation and recognize that you are enough.
To become truly unfuckwithable you can practice self-love. Look into the mirror and tell yourself positive affirmations after brushing your teeth. Say things like “you are enough” or “you are loved” to practice. Make a daily list of three to five things that you love about yourself, and pay attention to the here and now. Practicing daily self-love leads us to the final law of becoming extraordinary: embrace your quest. Extraordinary people have a calling, they dedicate their lives to pursuing their passions and making the world a better place. They don’t allow the daily grind to get in the way of their dreams, in fact, they try to bring their work and passions together. For example, Richard Branson, certainly an extraordinary individual, was once asked about his work-life balance. He replied that work and life are the same things, they are part of living.
Branson was successful in creating work that aligned with his calling, but how can you achieve the same extraordinary success? To begin your quest, you must let go of the Brules that hold you back and stop settling for just any career. Focus on your quest versus your career and you will find true happiness and become extraordinary.
Chapter 7: Final Summary
Living an extraordinary life can be achieved by anyone. By following these ten laws, you can crack the code of the extraordinary mind and begin your quest for happiness. Begin by abandoning society’s beliefs and transcending your culturescape, throw out the Brules that don’t align with your vision of the world, continue to update your hardware and software, rewrite your models and bend your reality, and finally, live in blissipline and embrace your quest. Remember that being extraordinary isn’t just for the successful people of the world, you too can have a meaningful life of joy and happiness, it’s simply up to you take action, change your mindset, and chase your dreams.

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