Thoughts After Reading Siddhartha By Hermann Hesse
I want to start by saying that I’m a firm believer that books find people at the right time in their life’s journey; Siddhartha by Herman Hesse has just found me at the perfect time.
Siddhartha is one of those books I wish I had read when I was in high school. But right now, finishing it during the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic feels just as appropriate.
The main character, Siddhartha, believed his most significant assets were his ability to think, wait, and fast. These lessons feel extra applicable while the United States waits to see what the results of the Coronavirus will be.
Let’s inspect each of the skills Siddhartha found to be so useful to him.
“A man is but the product of his thoughts – what he thinks, he becomes.”
As a business owner, I spend a good bit of time thinking about how I can build a more substantial business. These thoughts often circle back to myself with the question, “what am I doing to be better.” I allow my thoughts to come back to myself because my business is a reflection of me. I am continually looking to further develop myself as a leader and increase what I have to offer the people I work with both inside and outside my business. I am very fortunate to have a team dedicated to the same mission. If it wasn’t for them the business wouldn’t be as strong as it is today.
Outside of business, I think this time is more important than ever to be aware of our thoughts. This pandemic has brought a lot of change to everyone’s lifestyle. I know I have had to deal with anxiety from being stuck inside my home. The way I’ve been dealing with these feelings is through daily habits and routines. Monday through Saturday, I wake up at the same time and have the same schedule until 5:00 pm. On Sundays, I allow myself time to rest and be with family.
“Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time.” Marcus Aurelius
Siddhartha found his new calling to be a ferryman right after he left his wife. As a ferryman, he would go back and forth across a river, pulling and conversing with the people in his care. During this time he never once thought about returning to his old life as a wealthy merchant. What he was doing, in my opinion, was waiting for his life to reveal his next move. I don’t want to spoil the book but this part made it very clear to me that what is for me will always find me. In my opinion, the text for my life has already been written, and my job is to wait and be prepared so I recognize the right time to make my next move.
Waiting has a lot to do with being nonreactive as a business owner as well. In the last month, I have seen a lot of reactive owners let go of their team because of concerns about the pandemic. Being a small business owner myself, I doubt I would ever have that conversation. At all times my instincts remind me this is where I am, to give it a month and see what happens before I make a move. I definitely wouldn’t make a decision the day I found out my business was being closed due to the pandemic. This is the power of waiting to make a decision.
“For restraint in speech, he shall observe silence; for control over the body, he shall fast; for control over the mind, breath control (pranayama) is prescribed.”
At one point in the book, Siddhartha mentioned he was good fasting because he knew how to go a long while without food. Admittedly, fasting is a skill that I don’t know much about. The longest I have gone without food is 48 hours, which was for a weightlifting meet a few years back.
I think the power of fasting can correlate to abstaining, something I am very familiar with. When I know something does not do me well I limit the use of it.
For example, during this time stuck inside due to the pandemic, I know I can quickly become obsessed with a Netflix series. So, I have chosen to stay away from any shows and series altogether.
In the book, Siddhartha went from being someone that had no possessions and living in the woods to a man with a beautiful home and servants. When he had possessions he became something he didn’t ever plan to be; he started to gamble and held onto his wealth. When he realized this was not where he found inner peace he decided it would be best to go back to living a simple life so he moved into a hut in the woods.
Abstaining from life’s various desires is important to be whole. As I grow in my leadership role I must continue to show through example and abstain from the things that are not helping me get to the place where I want to be, with the ultimate goal being inner peace.