Have you ever felt stuck in a rut, going through the motions day after day without any real sense of purpose or meaning? A lot of people feel this way.
Monica Laurence helps people change this by facilitating genuine self-expression and teaching them how to get good luck in their everyday lives. Listen in and discover more.
In the episode:
When James’s friend tells him he should speak to Monica, James listens. [00:47]
What is quantum surfing and how can it apply to a lot of people’s lives? [03:50]
We can learn a lot by just observing how children navigate life. [09:10]
Who’s the hero in your storyline? [11:27]
If you’re not achieving the goals you set, it might be you’re not thinking big enough. [12:45]
Practice lucky behaviors and you get lucky outcomes. [15:42]
What seems like mere coincidence can be something much more wonderful. [19:53]
Setting up a business in Fiji had its own set of difficulties. [25:59]
Lockdown can be a playground when you’re stuck on a tropical isle. [27:45]
What some people think is creepy is completely normal and science-based to others. [30:16]
When a belief system is forced or unhelpful, it’s time for a change. [34:29]
Sometimes shifting one little thing can have far-reaching impact. [36:11]
These are the things that make for luck. [39:14]
Today’s guest is not an easy package to describe. Monica Laurence is a serial entrepreneur, an explorer, and very passionate about life. She’s done enterprise, Hollywood, Silicon Valley technology. But she also has a hospitality interest, with a lux private resort in Fiji where she does stillness retreats for execs and visionaries.
Monica also has a concept called Quantum Surfing, the name of which immediately caught James’s attention, for obvious reasons. It’s an idea he’d like to delve into in this talk. He also imagines they could have an interesting chat around business model and differentiation, as well as flow, and the personal freedom and self-expression that entrepreneurs innately have.
Quantum surfing and its relevance
Any of those threads would be a delight, says Monica.
Quantum surfing, she says, is a philosophy. It’s a framework she shares, a completely different framing perspective on how life works, and how we bring energy and vision to the table that allows us to really navigate life win a way we find more joyful, more satisfying, and with higher impact for our businesses.
It seems like the topic of the moment, says James, what with the great resignation and people having experienced life and work different from corporate. People are ready for a shift.
The description he has of quantum surfing is of “a framework of actionable philosophies, drawing from quantum mechanics, neuroscience, spirituality, and a quest for personal freedom and authentic self-expression.”
But basically, it’s a shift in perspective on what is possible. That’s what he really thinks is the punchline. What is possible for someone who may be worn out and done with the old way, who realizes there’s a shift in the way people will live in the future, and wants to grab that shift? Where does one start?
Monica’s own journey started with a lot of spiritual experiences. She noticed that some practices yielded predictable outcomes, while others were inconsistent. And she turned to neuroscience and quantum mechanics to understand why.
What is interesting, she says, is that we live in cultures with outdated beliefs about how the world and reality work. Quantum physicists have been talking for a century about quantum, yet we still have no cultural narrative to incorporate what’s happening in the quantum field. So we’re out of step with what’s possible.
So Monica has run experiments, and one of the best ways she’s found to find what’s right for her has been to just embrace the unknown and to adopt a set of practices where you become predictably lucky.
That sounds bizarre, she realizes, but the science says that being lucky is actually the result of behaviors. So what she does frequently when at a crossroads is to play there for a while and to invite lucky coincidences, different experiences that may allow her to discover what’s next, what she gravitates to, what feels aligned with who she is and the resources she has to offer, something that will make her passionate, that she really cares about.
What we can learn from children
So in quantum surfing, says Monica, the first thing we do is start practicing lucky behaviors. Curiosity is absolutely one of those, just allowing yourself to explore, not always to be so much in the mind, so directed, so plan-oriented, so goal-oriented. She recommends the discovery mindset that a child might have, before it had learned the proper ways of envisioning what’s next in life.
That was the first thing on James’s mind, he says. Children already know it. He’s spent a lot of time with his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. She wants to do everything he does, but he also learns a great deal from her. To see how a kid adapts and plays and role plays is fascinating.
And it’s interesting that Monica mentions goal-setting. Writing down and setting fixed goals is almost a setup for disappointment, James says, if you go off track. If you didn’t have such fixed goals, you could be more appreciative of where you are in the moment. Even setbacks or negative experiences could be reframed as fortunate, for the lessons they provide, for the knowledge you can carry forward.
Being the hero in the storyline
One of the things Monica likes to do when things don’t go her way is to take the idea that there’s a storyline happening there. And if she’s the hero in that storyline, what is that setback teeing up that will allow her to emerge from the experience more self-composed, more focused, more directed, more powerful?
Is your goal big enough?
Monica suggests applying the lens of curiosity to setbacks. If we’re not fulfilling the goals that we set, if we think we’re not measuring up, we can say, there must be something there that is making our dream, our vision, even bigger than we imagined.
In Monica’s experience, as long as she’s interacting with amazing people, and showing up with lucky behaviors, her goals routinely get blown out of the water. She wasn’t even thinking big enough.
“Celebrate difficulties, because they are the obstacles that stop everyone else. – James Schramko”
James has always said to people he coaches, when they are having setbacks, to celebrate the difficulties, because they are the obstacles that stop everyone else. But he does like the way Monica approaches it, that hero in the storyline concept.
Learning and practicing lucky behaviors
What other tools has Monica got in her toolkit?
She’s really turned, she says, to these lucky behaviors, which can be learned. And when you practice them, bizarrely enough, things start to happen in your life.
She gives the example of one of the members in her quantum surfing practice. He was a serial entrepreneur who had just sold his most recent startup. He’d taken up quantum surfing while deciding what to do next.
They talked about intuitive wandering, because intuition is one of four lucky behavior patterns. And one day after work, he decided to walk the neighborhood, an intuitive wander with no set place to go. In the course of his meandering, he found himself at a service station, where he decided to walk in and get something to drink.
Inside, he fell into conversation with the guy who ran the shop. Now this member of Monica’s had been doing a lot of investigation of NFT’s, non-fungible tokens. And he wasn’t getting the information he really wanted to know, to put together the concept for his new startup. And in the conversation, he found himself speaking with an expert in NFT’s who knew exactly what he wanted to know. They ended up having a fantastic dialogue and staying in touch.
These coincidences seem weird, says Monica, but when you start to see the quantum energy of it combined with how the brain works from neuroscience, you start to think there’s actually something there.
More than coincidence in play?
Is Monica saying there’s some fabric going on that’s not visible to most people, asks James?
Absolutely. She likes how he puts it. It truly is a fabric of consciousness, an information and energy network. And it is also senses that people have that they just don’t use. And we don’t even really believe that they exist. But it’s just like smelling or seeing or hearing. There’s intuition, and there’s many, many different forms of intuition. It’s a sense. And it’s fun to experiment with it.
James recalls an odd experience of his own. He was down at the beach one day when he noticed some guy looking at him. He looked away, then looked back – the guy was still looking. Then the guy approached James, and asked, Are you James? James said Yes, and the guy introduced himself as a friend of a mutual friend of theirs, Adam.
James wound up surfing with the guy several days in a row, and felt, he said, like he’d known him his whole life. And the strange thing was that this guy had written out a list of podcasts he’d like to guest on. James’s show was on that list. And then he saw James in the surf.
It fits the description Monica was talking about, says James, where things are in place, but they’re not normally visible.
One man’s creepy is another’s science-backed normal
Another time, James had a vision of stand-up barrels in the National Park. He’d picture catching these incredible waves reeling down the bay. Then at the market a few weeks ago, he met a photographer, and on his wall was a picture of that exact scene, taken 15 years earlier. James bought the picture and placed it on his wall at home.
One of Monica’s strengths, she says, is looking across disparate pieces of information or patterns and seeing connections. She feels it’s made her a strong entrepreneur when it comes to business strategy and seeing a path forward.
She wasn’t satisfied with knowing such flukes could happen, but they weren’t reliable. So she started digging into the science. And not only is the quantum mechanics fascinating, but the neuroscience as well.
She refers to a TED talk by a neuroscientist, Anil Seth. He says that the brain uses our beliefs to decode the signals we receive. So if you believe that this random mix tends to just happen in your life, and that you’ve grown accustomed to looking out for it, noticing, feeling into it, then that becomes part of your beliefs. And those aspects of your environment become accessible to you, because they get decoded properly.
In other words, says James, just have beliefs that lend themselves to the way you want things to happen.
That’s right, says Monica.
Breaking out of unhelpful belief systems
Monica likes to refine beliefs by launching experiments. By doing so, she says, you welcome in lucky coincidences, and you see what’s right for you, what you want to take on board. And so it’s more of a gradual refinement or a gradual adjustment, rather than just choosing to believe something.
Clearly, says James, because Monica has traveled a lot, she’s been able to break out of whatever her starting point was. A lot of people are probably so stuck in their environment, they haven’t really any external option to change. That’s where those experiments would be helpful.
It’s fun to see what is really possible and to experience life in a new way, says Monica. Travel is a way that people are often exposed to new ideas.
Podcast is, too, says James. Every time he does an episode, he learns something. He will take the hero narrative Monica talked about and apply it for himself. Just one little thing can be the lever that shifts a lot of things.
Imagining yourself as a hero, says Monica, can welcome in a lot of resilience. When things aren’t going your way, you can say there’s a larger arc there, that it’s just you on a hero’s journey.
There’s many ways she can come at that idea that give her more freedom. And especially for entrepreneurs, she thinks it is important, because their businesses are really their form of art. They’re their form of self-expression. And as artists, they need freedom.
To be so narrowly focused doesn’t always serve people. There’s this balance, where they are both open and yet applied, visionary and yet directed.
The balance is important, says James. He sees a lot of visionaries tend to change business models every few months, never sticking at anything. Some people are so attracted to change, they can’t stand still. Other people are so attracted to stability that they are not really experiencing what could be possible. James suspects that’s a huge group Monica would be helping, people who need a bit of help to try something.
Can she share another experiment she does?
The attributes of luck
There’s the attributes of luck, says Monica, and they keep a lucky journal for the entire six-week course. It’s curiosity and resilience, intuition and positive expectations. The kinds of experiments would be like, just small tweaks that get you out of your patterns. And our patterns, she says, are often invisible to us. Like we might drive the same way to work or have a certain routine that makes us hyper-productive, but doesn’t allow for serendipitous creativity.
Say when you go to a social event, you look for someone to know to talk to. What if you had a different method of choosing that was completely random, like deciding to talk to everyone one day who has freckles? Anything. And you make it like a game for yourself.
It is fascinating to James to see how differently people operate. He recalls a hairdresser of his who would randomly offer to do people’s hair, and it was shocking to him how forward the guy was. But he does like to observe and learn from people around him.
“You can create your own momentum. – James Schramko”
He himself drives different cars, rides different boards. He likes that variety. One thing he doesn’t want is boredom, and lack of stimulation where he thinks you can create your own momentum.
“A new environment creates a new you. – James Schramko”
He often thinks about whether his routine serves him, or whether it requires change. He used to surf at lunchtime, to avoid the crowds. But now he often surfs at five or six in the morning. A new environment creates a new you. And you can take steps to change and adjust.
Small connections and lack of attachment
One evening in Fiji, Monica was having dinner with a friend, where they said how much they missed live music.
Overnight, Monica received a message from a friend linking to some fantastic live music performance. Funny, those tiny connections. And you’re not even attached to the idea, which is why we don’t notice that some version of that desire is flowing in. This is where keeping a journal makes us more aware.
There’s the experiments, says Monica, but there’s also the noticing. These things are happening for us, but we just don’t perceive them because we are so focused on what we believe is so worthy and demanding of our attention.
James thinks a listener of this episode will be in deep thought about where they’re at in life. And if you’re not happy with the way things are, the greatest news, he thinks, is there are ways you can engineer more luck for yourself and to get better outcomes.
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