The Buddha and the Badass: Book Overview

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Buddha and the Badass" by Vishen Lakhiani. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The Buddha and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani about? What are the main takeaways of the book?

Most people push themselves to work long, grueling hours, thinking this is what’s needed to achieve professional success. In The Buddha and the Badass, Vishen Lakhiani sets the record straight: “Hustling” won’t make you or your business successful.

Read below for a brief overview of The Buddha and the Badass.

The Buddha and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani

In The Buddha and the Badass, Vishen Lakhiani sheds light on why so many employees dislike their work and why so many modern workplaces fail to adequately support their workers: They buy into hustle culture and the lie that it’s a prerequisite for success. Lakhiani, on the other hand, believes hustle culture is misguided and proposes a different way to go about finding success in work and life: by being both spiritually enlightened—calm, centered, and in tune with yourself—and disruptive: willing to shake things up to make work a fulfilling experience. 

When you merge these traits, you transform your company into an unstoppable force, accelerated by passionate, happy employees who believe in your cause. In such environments, employees can grow and connect, and work becomes play. 

Lakhiani is an entrepreneur and activist who also authored The Code for the Extraordinary Mind and founded Mindvalley, a learning platform. In this book, Lakhiani mainly addresses entrepreneurs and business people, so most of the book is written in the context of ultimately establishing a business. 

The Problem With Modern Work: Hustle Culture

Lakhiani writes that our vision of success in life is based on false information we’re fed from an early age: that you must work harder than everyone else, that you should try to make as much money as possible, and that your personal life must be sacrificed for your professional life. In other words, to be successful, you must hustle. 

However, he argues this simply isn’t true: Success does not require laborious work and long hours. And in fact, this misconception makes people 1) unhappy in life because they don’t have time for the people and activities they enjoy and 2) ineffective at work because they’re too busy to recognize if they’re striving for the right goals or if their work is actually helping anyone. 

A Better Way to Work: Be Enlightened and Disruptive (anti-hustle culture)

According to Lakhiani, to have success at work and in life, you must shed your belief in “hustle culture” and develop a new, dual approach to work: Be both spiritually enlightened and disruptive of workplace norms. This is what Lakhiani refers to as being both a Buddha and a badass. When you’re both enlightened and disruptive, you work effortlessly—as if it was for fun. You’re also a great team player, excel in your roles, are universally loved, and can handle multiple responsibilities and tasks. You seem to be lucky and in good health and happiness all the time. In short, life and work are easy and enjoyable. 

How to Become Spiritually Enlightened

According to Lakhiani, there are two parts to becoming spiritually enlightened. The first part is getting to know yourself well, and the second part is creating a routine that lets you continuously grow spiritually.

How to Become Disruptive

Now that you know how to move toward spiritual enlightenment, let’s look at the other side of the coin: how to be disruptive. Again, this means building a revolutionary workplace in which people can grow, feel important and valued, develop friendships, and contribute to meaningful work. This type of workplace stands in stark contrast to most other modern work environments, states Lakhiani. There are three parts to being a disruptive leader:

  1. Set your company’s values and use them to attract the right team
  2. Define bold, forward-thinking goals
  3. Foster in-sync thinking

How to Merge Spiritual Enlightenment With Disruption

Now that you know how to separately be enlightened and disruptive, let’s look at how to merge enlightenment and disruptiveness in the workplace to turn work into an enjoyable and fulfilling pursuit for you and your employees. There are four methods for combining enlightenment and disruption:

  1. Develop a mission and rally employees behind it
  2. Make personal growth a top company priority
  3. Ask employees to state their life goals, and support these
  4. Decide how you want your life to look like based on your identity
The Buddha and the Badass: Book Overview

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Buddha and the Badass summary:

  • Why you don't need to work long, grueling hours to be successful
  • How to transform your workplace from mundane to fun
  • How to merge spiritual enlightenment with disruption

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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