What's The Big Idea: Arjuna Ardagh: The Life Changing Mindset Shift from Acquisition to Contribution

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“Focusing on our own desires creates a type of poverty.”

Today’s guest: Arjuna Ardagh

His big idea: The key to self-fulfillment is though contribution, not acquisition.

Arjuna Ardagh is a writer, public speaker and executive coach, who has trained more than 2000 coaches over the last 25 years. 

He is the author of nine books, including the 2005 #1 National Bestseller The Translucent Revolution. His latest book, Radical Brilliance, is the anatomy of how and why people have original ideas which change the world.

He has been a speaker at conferences all over the world, including at Google and the United Nations. He lives with his wife, Chameli in Nevada City, California. They have two grown sons and two mischievous kittens.

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Key insights Shared:

  • There is a global collective trance that believes we will be fulfilled when we get more things: whether its money, fame, notoriety, the right partner. 

  • Focusing on our own desires creates a type of poverty, we always feel like we’re lacking something and trying to achieve it.

  • Walking into a social gathering thinking “I want to get x from that person” creates a context where you’re missing something. 

    • Contribution creates overflow - Instead, enter a social gathering recognizing you have a lot to give.

  • The contribution mindset sees a vacuum in the world where more beauty and love can be upheld. 

  • Being a contributor means assuming that everything is humming along nicely but you’re looking for the biggest opportunities where you can make a difference. 

  • When adopting the contribution mindset, imagine your cup is overflowing rather than thinking your cup is half full.

  • If you want to shift from acquisition to contribution, you need to practice ways to restore your physical energy. 

  • Heaven and hell is only separated by the idea of whether you're living only for yourself or living for other people. 

  • A science of rebuilding your energy from China 

    • Word for energy in Mandarin is literally chi 

    • Word for practice is gong 

    • Chigong, the discipline to practice energy.

  • People get wrapped up in asking “what's my life purpose?” It becomes a narcissistic activity. It's more useful to develop an unpretentious disposition to give to people in little tiny ways all day long. 

  • The more often you become a contributor, the more likely you’ll be asked to take on important projects. 

  • If you want to feel good, just make other people feel good. 

  • Demystify the practice of contributing - don't convince yourself that it’s a confusing nebulous task. Instead ask people how they like to be helped. 

  • We often teach what we most need to learn - its been Arjuna’s work to become more focused on giving not his natural inclination. 

  • When someone is depleted (financially or emotionally) sometimes asking someone how to help them is an extra burden. 

    • Sometimes it helps to first make a gesture of compassion and ask “how does that feel?” 

  • Marriage / romantic relationships are an ideal playground to experiment with contribution vs acquisition. 

  • If the desire to do good for others comes from guilt or vanity, it loses its effectiveness.

  • Arjuna’s five simple tips to adopt the contributor lifestyle. 

  1. Pay more attention to the nature of consciousness.

  2. Find ways to increase your body energy.

  3. Find some kind of physical practice that allows you to build up reserves of physical energy.

  4. Look for five small opportunities to contribute to other people in a day.

  5. Don’t make looking for your life's purpose a job search. 

to learn more about Arjuna and HIS work: