Passionate!

imageAn advice to all ardent and young people, who are in search of jobs and go to interviews or are prospecting for business.

Many who have been in the corporate world will recognise this statement.

“I am so passionate about this brand, growing it and taking the brand into new areas which it can expand into. I want this to be my legacy.”

Seriously?

This is the typical fluff we all con ourselves into believing. It is a statement, which one hears in many interviews, from hopeful candidates. Can you really be passionate about a commercial product, which has been created to attract consumers, with the sole motive to make money. Is this what your life is about? Not Allah and spirituality, not your family, or your country, nor the poor and underprivileged? If you have to descend from these high moral passions, then at least let it be the arts, or the sports or some lighter comic stuff.

When we were kids or in our teens, do you ever remember anyone ever saying they would die to be a Corporate President or a Marketing Director, or a Sales Director. Why? Because the young are real and say things which are reality. They do not have to be hypocritical and mush their stuff with constant fibs.

The truth is that as adults we need money for our present day existence. So we all have to earn it (Unless we are one of the very few, who are born with the proverbial silver spoon). Therefore, when we have to earn it, then we have to work hard at it. I personally think search for the legal tender, is not natural to us humans, but we compromise because its needed. So then lets be truthful and accept that we are doing it perforce, rather than putting up dramatic, oft repeated, idiotic statements, which most HR people actually never believe. You are being hired for your ability, experience and perceived integrity, not on seeming to be passionate about your role. We all know that given a ‘better job’, almost all of us (including the interviewer) will move on.

Now to understand the aspirational side of living. Most of us require higher aspirations, rather than just earning money (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). There is a time and place for that definitely. The way to do this, is to have a larger vision in life and in the business, ie a method of achieving a higher moral stance in a business. That larger vision should drive us and if you are living that vision and are really passionate about it and work as a team, then the business will succeed also. When the business succeeds, it means that profit will happen and careers will do well. This will be the side effect. Allah works in strange ways. You work sincerely on a higher purpose and he will provide you with worldly success.

So next time when you are in an interview and asked about your motivation, then say that you are working hard because you need to do well in your personal life and ambitions. At the same time, you hope to do well and benefit those not so lucky as yourself. It works like magic. Because its the truth! So be passionate about the truth.

* this picture is from Dreamstime.com…a free picture site.

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My road-stops to fulfillment

imageRemember how in Star Trek, the older Mr Spock visits his younger version and advises him? That is a luxury not afforded us humans, but if it were, I would go back to myself, maybe forty years, and give a list of ideals. Maybe I might have applied them. Anyway, here they are, for the benefit of those who are curious about such a list.

1. Vision, have a personal goal

If you get in a car and drive without knowing where you are going, you will waste a lot of fuel and time. Know the lighthouse in the far distance, see it, desire it and then let Allah guide you there. Who knows, you might even get there.

2. A value system, be honest to yourself

There is no point in living your one and only life, being someone else. Why exactly are you acting your way through life? So, when you are yourself, then you must have a set of values. Apply them. They are driven by your belief, which then drives your vision. To get to that vision, you need your value system. Hopefully, you will be an optimistic person and have a great value system.

3. Stand by your principles, but it does not have to be a hydrogen bomb decision

Through life you will have to stand behind your principles, which are set by your value system. But, here is a secret. It does not mean that you are forever fighting and beating people. Use the art of persuasion, a sweet mind and tongue. A hydrogen bomb decision is very rare. It should not happen, Allah provides an honest way out, if you desire it.

4. Opportunities are few! Take risks, but don’t need to be rash

Every now and then an opportunity will come whistling by. Do not avoid them. Look them in the eye. Be calm and do not rush. If you absolutely cannot, then let them go. There will be others. But mostly, you will prevail and you should look at it as an adventure and take the risk. A hit rate of 50 per cent is a good figure for a benchmark.

image5. Have fun

This is an absolute must. Life will be very boring and serious otherwise. Even take tough assignments as an adventure and laugh your way through. You can always move on to your next opportunity and its not the end of the world.

6. Have some passions

Definitely! Otherwise one becomes a boring fuddy-duddy. Like your sports, or music or outdoors. Have something to discuss with people other than your work. Please!

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously, better still laugh at yourself

As we become senior, we begin to believe we are a gift to mankind. You are just one breath away from extinction. So chill and laugh. Be human to everyone, they will actually like you. Otherwise in their secret chamber, everytime they see you, they will see an evil looking gorilla. You are better looking than that, so just laugh.

8. Life is not about yourself, think of others

Always think of the effects of your actions. There are people connected to your decisions. They are human. So behave like a human and look after them. Do not be a machine, especially a corporate one.

9. Give time to family and friends, before its too late

My own biggest failure and not surprisingly many CEOs say the same. Travel is the biggest culprit. When your children have stepped out of the door and gone to live life, then its too late to reverse the decision. Travel less; leave work behind when you come home. You can pick it up tomorrow again.

10. Give back as much as you can, you will be happy and content

In the end this world does not belong to us. Its leant to us, to carry to the next generation. Leave much of yourself in this world. Especially in the hearts and minds of people. You will be happier and life will be better fulfilled, based on the goodwill of others.

We all experiment and make errors, but I do wish someone, somewhere had taken a younger me and told me these things. Life would have been easier. In the end we all eventually find our path and culmination, regardless.

*the pictures are from dreamstime.com

Tread Softly

imageToday, I spoke at a session at Engro, where the employees of all the companies are being sensitised on the inclusiveness of the physically impaired in the work force. While I had not really thought or prepared a talk, but as I spoke, the realisation of the sheer human value of the topic was such, that I felt there is more to be said. So it occurred to me, that I should write a corresponding blog on the subject.

We as humanity have functioned disgracefully during our existence, with tiny little spots of successes here and there. Through history we have massacred, raped, pillaged and for millennia created slaves out of major sections of the population. For humans, success should not be about conquering territory, subjugating free people and living a life of luxury, while the so-called ‘great unwashed’ scrape a menial existence. So in acting the way we do, we fool ourselves to our great detriment. We are functioning more like animals, than a thinking, talking and feeling human.

Mans success has come in great Prophets projecting humanity, or a philosopher bringing out a massive truth, or advancement in science which has benefited the whole of humanity. Eradication of small pox was a great achievement. When Jonas Salk gave away the polio vaccine for free, it was a great success for mankind – one mans selflessness benefiting billions over half a century. Sometimes prosperity has been achieved for the masses and that is a great victory. During the Cyrus period, the first 25-30 years of Islam, the 1950s of USA, Sweden for a period in the 60s-70s. Contrary to popular thought, the democracies have rarely achieved overall prosperity. USA has a horrible disproportion of wealth in a few hands. The world has an even worse disproportion. Some 200 people own almost half the world.

On the other hand Man has stamped destructively and left an enduring footprint. We build concrete jungles, populate them, cut trees, carve roads out of mountains, pollute the air and seas. We eat like gluttons and waste as much out of sheer negligence and lack of thought. Man has brought the world and its nature to its knees, but we do not realise it and continue merrily on our way. In Surah Isra’ it is said “Do not walk proudly/exultant on the earth; you can neither tear the earth apart nor can you rival the mountains in height.” (Qur’an 17:37)…We mankind have just done the opposite and have walked proud and exultant and the results are very visible.

So what to do? Surah Rahman mentions ‘meezan’-balance. Balance in all facets of life. No extremes and that includes the art of living. Humans need to reduce our footprint. We walk in this world as if we own it. We don’t! The world has been lent to all humanity by Allah. The millennia before has used this earth (billions of humans) and the millennia after will need to use this earth too. So we have to live and use it, so that sustainability is maintained. Therefore, tread softly.

Part of treading softly, is inclusiveness. We need to cater for all. The poor, the weak, the women, the children, the old and also the ones who are physically challenged. The ones who are physically impaired are Allah’s gift to us. They are the beautiful people, yet we know this not! By being good to them and treating them as equals we create ‘barkat’. Our organisations and society need to help these people and make them productive, give them the self sustenance and self respect, which is a right of all the human race and individuals within it.

Tread softly! Go out there and be different to the rest of mankind and show the way of compassion and inclusiveness. Work with and give respect to these people. Be more human than most.

The Trials of Ibrahim (as)

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Atlantis 2030

Atlantis 2030

So when you were a kid, did one of your grandparents tell you the myth of Atlantis and Hazrat Jibreel? Maybe not! Perhaps it was different in the sixties and seventies, when Google had not invaded our lives and liberty could be taken with history and events. Those belonging to that era would most probably have heard this.

The way the myth goes is that Allah ordered Hazrat Jibreel to go to the earth, to a place near Yunaan (Greece) and find Atlantis. He was ordered to destroy the place. Hazrat Jibreel, a bit taken aback, asked as to why? The place is an abode of achievement and advancement. So Allah says go down and check out the place and you will come to your own conclusions (now that in itself is pushing the envelope a little far, as from my understanding farishtas have no independence of thought).

Nevertheless, Hazrat Jibreel lands in Atlantis. He finds a few children playing in a park and decides to question them. He asks them if they were aware of God. On getting an affirmative, he asks them where is God. The children after some discussions say, ‘well, God is all around us’.

Next question is if they are aware of Jibreel and the answer is yes!

‘So where is Jibreel’? The children discuss and calculate and answer, Jibreel is not in the heavens. Therefore he is on earth.

‘Then who is Jibreel’? Another round of calculations by the kids and they say, “well Jibreel is around here now. And since we are not Jibreel, therefore it must be you”.

Of course Hazrat Jibreel realizes where the society had reached and that Allah’s order is correct. Therefore he sinks Atlantis into the water, leaving a legend that has endured thousands of years.

If you go to U-tube to a lecture by Dr Michio Kaku, an eminent physicist, titled ‘World in 2030’, it would give you a bit of a shudder, perhaps because it may remind you of the story of Atlantis. The Professor speaks of impending change and life as it will be by 2030 or even earlier. The talk is based on events that have already happened, events under testing, experiments which have worked and not been put into the commercial field yet and lastly Moore’s law.

Moore’s law simply states that technology will half in price and double in capacity every 18 months. Apparently this is a proven edict over 50 years or so and scientists believe it to be absolutely true. So if technology is 100 in capacity and 100 in cost today, it will be 410,000 in capacity and less than 0.025 in cost by the year 2030.

That, ladies and gentlemen, should tell us where we are going and where we will have reached in 2030. Scary?! Yes definitely. Consider that we landed on the moon, with the help of a computer which had much less power than today’s normal laptop. So with the power in 2030 how much more can we do?

Today, we have Google’s computer which can work on the surface of a contact lens, on a mere thought. We have wallpapers, which are actually computers and they can be networked, so that a large city will maintain contacts through them. No requirement for phones, computers, laptops, emails etc; you just touch the wall paper anywhere and it is alive. You are in the system! They have also now got systems which can track your brain while you are sleeping – no wiring required. The dreams can then be read and pictures created out of that onto a screen. Nevada is now testing driverless cars out on its roads. Medical tech and genomes we have already heard of many times.

These are just some of the advancements already done and about to enter our lives fairly soon. But our capacity to expand this will be exponential.

So my question is this: the technological breakthrough will happen, but will the human brain evolve just as quickly, and the human society mature just as fast? History offers little comfort.

And so, are we facing the risk of another Atlantis by 2030? Maybe not the Hazrat Jibreel kind, but one created because of the awesome power and the lack of control from a slowly evolving human brain. Will we be strong enough to manage this, and evolve to match our progress? If a fire-sale or a system meltdown or a Skynet type scenario were to come calling, how would we humans cope?

Maybe it is time to dig a hole in the ground for oneself and put away a year’s provisions for safety sake.

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