[This post got a little long, so I decided to split it into two parts; I post the second half in a few days.]
I had someone who attended one of your DCI seminars write me an email; he wanted to know if he should continue to pursue the jobs he was currently doing (which although enjoyable, paid little) or go get a “real job”—one that would pay better and help him support his family.
As many of you many know, this is a classic “diamond deal”—our philosophy says that it’s possible to enjoy your job and make money at it as well.
He was already doing the main advice Geshe Michael gives to people who want to make more money—start your own charity. What this means is, save up some money, then give it yourself to someone who needs it. This has two benefits (at least) over regular giving, in terms of seed management: one, as you save up the money you are thinking about what you’re going to do with it. That thinking—planning out your act of giving—is the raw stuff seeds are made of. The ancient books on planting seeds says that the most powerful part of our seed planting activities is the mental part; what you do with your mind. So thinking, planning, considering how you will give the money is a great seed building activity.
Two: if you do something yourself, you can see the benefits, which makes the seed more powerful. It’s too easy to write a check to Red Cross. Not that you shouldn’t send money to the Red Cross, but writing a check only takes a minute and then you forgot about it (see reason one). Instead, find—look for—someone who needs money, then take the money yourself and see what it can do. (Incidentally, I think this is why charities that show you the result of your giving are generally more successful—we all want to see the good we are doing.)
But like said, V– (let’s call him 🙂 was already doing that to seemingly no avail. What else is there to do?
He told me that one of his jobs was teaching martial arts. I can relate; I considered trying to be a professional martial artist when I was younger (I just read Chuck Liddel’s book Iceman, in which he describes his career as a professional martial artist—it initially included working as a bartender to make ends meet), but was advised against it by one of my teachers. (I think he saw some on his friends who were professional teachers, and how they had to compromise their art to make money as something to avoid.) But anyway, the point is, unless you’re famous it’s a difficult way to make a living, trying to teach martial arts.
But here’s the advice I gave him, which I thought I would share here:
For example, have you thought of offering free martial arts classes for children? If you teach people who don’t have money, but still need help, this plants really good seeds. Also, just between you and me, the only martial arts schools in the US that make money make their money primarily teaching children. (Some gyms do okay too, if you’re more interested in pursuing that.)
Anyway, do your book, work hard on your fund, and make sure to use the money to help the most people you can. Then just be open to thinking about trying something new.
So my basic advice is this: if you’re doing your seed planting, but don’t see any results coming back right away, think about expanding your thinking a bit–that is, try to see if there’s something you haven’t thought of. (And, for the record, out-of-the-box thinking requires what seed?)
I gave similar advice to someone recently who wanted to start a yoga studio: don’t try to compete with the other studios in town; look for a market that’s being ignored—have you thought about trying to teach classes that are kid- or elderly-friendly? I recently helped teach a yoga class where one of the students was blind; she can do yoga just fine. (It made me think I should try to find out how I can teach more classes for visually-impaired students.) Have you thought about trying to help them?
What about private classes or offering to travel to the customer for classes? I know some people that do pretty well offering yoga classes that way, why not martial arts? How will you find them? There’s a seed for that too. (Have you heard of Facebook? Just kidding… can you guess?)
End of Part One…