The Art of the Deal

I have been thinking a lot lately about politics as the chaos continues to swirl around us. I’ve been reading a good bit about President Trump, as anyone following the news will do, and I found myself considering his book, The Art of the Deal.

The Art of the Deal

It’s such an American paradigm – such a pervasive notion of success in life. What makes us successful, happy, and fulfilled. If we can reach that pinnacle of success, manage the art of the deal, if we can close that deal, we’ll be happy, successful, and fine. What Trump talks about is a way of relating and connecting to others that brings success.

I wanted to know the image of success Trump envisioned. I read the reviews posted in the front of the book on the theory that these reviews would tell me something about a few of the values that were being promoted. They did.

The Virginian Pilot and Ledger Star says:

FAST-PACED PROSE ABOUT A NO-NONSENSE COMER. Want to make a deal? Or be a big-time real estate tycoon? If so, here is a handbook by a master wheeler-dealer and consummate real estate entrepreneur that might give you some ideas.

 The New Woman says:

OFFERS A PRIMER FOR THOSE WHO WOULD FOLLOW HIS PATH TO THE TOP. . . . Trump’s life is dramatic proof that the rewards are here for those who dare. (The Berkshire Eagle)

This sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? The rewards are there for those who dare? That sounds exciting, rewarding, fulfilling. We are all interested in getting to the top, aren’t we?

In the book, now-president Trump writes that he does deals because he loves them; because that is what, in our language, brings him joy. The suggestion is that if we do the same thing we also will achieve business success and happiness. If we can master the art of the deal.

What’s It All About?

So, I read the book. Authorship is credited to Donald Trump and to reporter Tony Schwartz, but I’m not going to focus on the authors here. Most of the book describes Trump’s background, business successes, and various deals, but that’s not what I want to talk about, either. What I do want to concentrate on are the 11 steps he identifies as ‘elements of the deal’, the roadmap for success. It’s a great list. Yet not, perhaps, in the same sense that Trump thinks about each component.

Let’s look at the elements from a bit of a different viewpoint, a more metaphysical perspective. When we do that, the principles Trump identifies may not turn us into New York real estate magnates, but they will help us move farther along our spiritual paths.

Before today, I’m betting you did not think of The Art of the Deal as a spiritual work. Welcome to One World, where we look at it all and turn it into a lesson!

Think Big

What’s the first point? It’s one we talk about frequently – think big.

When we are creating our future, seeking our fulfillment, looking to express as who we are here to be – don’t play small. You are here to burn bright, to leave it all on the field. Go for the skyscraper, not the brownstone.

When we were children and we dreamed about our future, did you dream small? No, probably not. We were going to change the world, save the world, make it a better place. We were all masters of the universe, and we were here to make a difference.

But what often happens to dreams? We shrink them down to what we think we can accomplish: what’s reasonable, what makes sense, what others tell us is doable.

Principle one dares us to continue to reach out, to extend, to know that the universe will respond when we continue to follow our vision. It says: “Don’t settle.”

As psychologist and author Ben Sweetland says,

. . . the world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car. . . . A teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.

Protect the Downside and the Upside Will Take Care of Itself

Here Trump speaks of limiting one’s exposure in case the whole enterprise goes south. A good business principle, but it is a necessary spiritual practice as well. Cultivate our foundation, maintain our center, knowing that many aspects of our lives will go well and many will not. Not may not – will not.

Remember earlier we studied equanimity and balance? Engaging those principles is how on a spiritual plane we protect the downside. We make sure that our spiritual practices continue to support us, keeping us calm and balanced.

This can be very hard to do, as I know from personal experience. There are many days I don’t maintain my practices, and I can always tell because it’s when I start to go sideways. I don’t know why my mind tells me that 30 minutes of scanning the news or getting on Facebook is better than 30 minutes of meditation or prayer, but it does. Wouldn’t you think our mind is out to help us? It’s not! We have to be consistently mindful and attentive in maintaining our spiritual practices. It’s the only way to protect the downside when life smacks us upside the head.

We keep our vision expanded, we maintain our spiritual practices. Can you not feel that energy lift?

Maximize Your Options

Again, great business advice. Remain flexible; keep your eye out for new opportunities

From a spiritual perspective? We continue to grow, to awaken. We study and learn from each other, support each other individually and in community. We understand that we cannot see now all that we will come to know as we go down the road – not only as information but as wisdom as well.

This principle tells us that our continued hero’s journey is just that – a journey. We need to keep going. We are creative beings who thrive on continued creation; we are not made to stand still.

Another aspect of this principle is one we speak about here frequently. It’s the need to release the outcome, hard as that is. When we release the outcome, we open ourselves up to an idea of success we may not have had.

Remember that we do not know what the result of our efforts will look like, and that’s not a bad thing. As Pema Chodron writes in When Things Fall Apart:

. . . letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or set up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if it’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that.

We are co-creators, with emphasis on the ‘co.’ Sometimes we don’t know what our next step should be; doors open and we don’t know what is at the end of the hall. These are times when we simply need to trust, to remain open to what is next. We have to trust we will know which door is the right one.

Know  Your Market

What can this principle teach us? In business, the lesson is to know who we are trying to reach. Target the product, know the audience. Marketing 101.

For our purposes? We must believe in what we are trying to accomplish; have faith that our vision has been given to us for a purpose.

This principle also teaches us another critical lesson. It is that each of us has a circle of influence, each of us has a place to contribute. My market may be art, yours may be music, or teaching, or building beautiful things. Know where you contribute, because there is a place. We are here because each of us has a market. Don’t be discouraged if you have had difficulty making your voice heard – you may be dabbling in the wrong market.

A third message here is to listen. How else can we know? We have to be present to those around us, hear what they are saying. Native American Elder Sa Kej Henderson teaches that “to truly listen is to risk being changed forever.” Be open to the possibility of change by what you learn.

Use Your Leverage

This one appealed to me, lawyer that I am. Hit their weak points, operate from a position of strength. Never let them see you beg.

Okay, that’s not the spiritual principle I’m talking about. What’s another way to look at this advice?

We build on our strengths, taking advantage of the wisdom we’ve gained, the lessons we’ve learned. We trust ourselves, that we have the answers. Trust that we have the tools, the inner resources, to continue our own unfolding.

Our leverage is our wisdom; it is the foundation of our continued growth.

Enhance Your Location

We all have heard that in real estate it’s location, location, location. However, here Mr. Trump says no – we may not realize that we are already in a great location. We need not take the word of others that we should be somewhere else; we may already be in a place where we will take off.

So what do we tell ourselves here? Start from where we are, right here and right now. Don’t hold off until we have time, have money, are in a better space. We are right now in the best place to start. There is no better time than right now. Find the advantages of where we are, because they exist.  How much time have we wasted waiting to be somewhere else, waiting for some event to occur, telling ourselves that this isn’t the right place or right time?

As Lama Surya Das said,

. . . the first lesson we need to learn is to accept and connect to the lives we are leading. For THIS IS IT. This is the path for us, and the right one. Let’s make the most of it. This is the spiritual way. (from Awakening the Buddhist Heart)

Don’t make excuses, make progress. Let’s start with what we can do right now. Who knows where it will take us?

A Few More from The Art of the Deal . . .

Get the word out
Share our gifts, let our voices be heard. This can be a tough one for the reticent among us, but this is where we let our light shine.

Deliver the goods
Talk is fine, belief is good, but we are creatures of action. We have to act on our vision, take steps to see it into physical reality. Don’t worry if it’s hard. Thomas Edison tells us that, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Don’t be afraid of the work.

Have fun
We can maintain the joy in what we’re doing. We can be grateful for where we are, for all that we have. One of the things I love about One World is our ability to rejoice in what is right here. You know my son Nick who ceaselessly looks on the up side of everything. For Nick, every meal is “the best meal evah.” The person who made it is “the best cook ever.”

As my wife’s cousin observed, what would it be like if we looked at every meal as the best meal ever?


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