For the past two weeks, I have been trying to figure out what my peanut is.
In The Compass of Now, DDnard’s million-selling Thai self-leadership book recently released in English, the peanut stands for all the things we hold on to which stop us from moving forward and achieving our goals.
Take the businesswoman who refuses to sell her land for less than the offer she previously received for it, even though she really needs the money. Her peanut is the past opportunity, which has convinced her she can get more than the current going price. Holding on to it means the bank ends up forfeiting her land. She has debts, but no more land and therefore, no means to pay them back.
Identifying your peanut requires practising self-awareness, or “the compass of now” as DDnard calls it. Self-awareness takes time, which explains why I have been reading this book for two months.
DDnard herself is a proponent of slow reading when it comes to The Compass: “in today’s fast-track world, people are looking for the quick tips and quick fixes for their lives, but our heart and souls do not work that way”, she explained to me in an email interview. “You can’t speak numbers and quick fix with your heart. Our mind needs soothing and comforting for quiet thoughts, and a pause to feel and be enlightened at our own pace.” Like most self-leadership books, The Compass deserves to be read with a notebook and a pen in hand, so you can reflect on your own life.
The Compass of Now stemmed from DDnard’s own practice of self-awareness. It enabled her to overcome a £2 million debt inherited from her husband, the grief of his loss, her struggles as a newly-single mother and her physical pain. Explaining how she got over these very human difficulties has catapulted her to literary fame in her home country Thailand, where The Compass now has its own meditation retreats, seminars and a charity.
Launching the book in the United Kingdom, where the self-help book market is already popular, was the next natural step. From her personal history, DDnard is attached to the country, which she describes as a second home and as the place where she grew up.
One of the most harrowing personal stories in The Compass see a young DDnard, homeless and without acquaintances in the UK learning that when you have a problem
to solve, you don’t have time for self-pity. “The UK taught me so many things present in this book”, she remembers. “If millions of people are benefiting from The Compass of Now, I feel that the source of my knowledge should benefit from it too.”
In the UK, The Compass should find an easy public, even though parts of it, particularly the ones referring directly to the Thai lifestyle or to the way industrialisation is affecting Thai society might not be as relevant to the British audience. The decision not to adapt the book was a conscious one. “You see it as the rest of the world sees it. I think pain, suffering and happiness are universal”, explains DDnard.
Generally, The Compass is at its strongest when it focuses on the thoughts and habits the reader can change, rather than on companies or states. The two chapters on misplaced priorities at corporate and national levels are interesting in themselves, but feel out of place in this book about personal change.
For DDnard however, talking about corporations and governments was an imperative. “To have a balanced life, readers need to have sustainable wealth and prosperity. If we work in the wrong place, if we are manipulated by our governments or organisation without understanding the bigger games that are played, it is more difficult to achieve long-lasting wealth and happiness. We all need a broader paradigm about the world we live in, how we impact the world and how the surrounding affect us”, is how she explains it.
It probably isn’t by chance that the two chapters that spoke to me less contain concrete examples rather than the nature-based parables the rest of the book is woven with. To make sure the reader identified with The Compass, DDnard used stories ranging from the peanut to a rose, from a monkey to Finding Nemo. She’d had a chance to test the impact of her parables before publishing The Compass in one of her multiple seminars.
While Stephen Covey’s very American stories in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People caused me to roll my eyes numerous times, DDnard’s parables were easy for me to picture and identify with. For instance, since reading her comparison between how the mind grasps onto painful thoughts and how the hand grasps onto thorns, I often find myself physically opening my hand when my mind struggles, which helps me let go.
Like every chapter of
The Compass, the one this example comes from is illustrated by Suporntip c. The drawings include numerous monkeys, angels, men and women and hearts. By providing more food for thought as well as enabling the visualisation of the book’s advices, they are a welcome addition to DDnard’s exercises and parables and are further evidence of how she takes advantage of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic cues to make her message as powerful as possible. The illustrations’ symbiosis with DDnard’s message was guaranteed by the way the two women worked together. “I told her the style, the pictures in my head, the feeling I expect the illustrations will communicate to the heart of the readers”, DDnard remembers.
Although The Compass was written a while ago, DDnard still loves it the way it is. She is planning to share more wisdom with the UK by bringing her seminar and meditation retreats here: “I’m seeing the free meditation retreats happening for the busy working people in the UK. That will be my happiest day”.
These retreats will no doubt add to DDnard’s already extensive library of stories of how people’s lives have been transformed by her book. She shared two of her favourite with me.
The first one, which also appears in the The Compass, is that of “a man with £1,000 debt, thinking of killing himself, his wife and kids. His neighbour told him the story of the book and gave him a copy. Today he is not only happy with his family but also happy with his noodle factory.”
Her other favourite story is that of a “lady who lost six babies. Her husband lived with another woman for 32 years, and she had £40,000 debt while her monthly salary was only £400. She had nowhere to turn to and wanted to kill herself, until her niece gave her The Compass of Now. After reading it, she came to meet me and decided that she would let go of her husband and, like the monkey letting go of the peanut, live happily. She also asked her husband to pay her debt for her so she can start her life free and happy, giving him the divorce papers in return.”
A complimentary review copy of The Compass of Now was sent to me by Palamedes PR. Email interview with DDnard carried out on 9 May 2014.