Sufism at work: Discover your innate gift

Lessons in Corporate Sufism to help you find your innate gift and share it with the world

Confident working woman executive in an office

The Corporate Sufi injects old-world sanity into a 21st century corporate culture of instant gratification, technology-based communications and hyper-competitive thinking. You do not need to be wealthy to live like a Corporate Sufi. Richness is defined not by how much you have, but how much you give. When I was speaking in Tajikistan some time ago, I complimented one of my participants on the ‘sleek’ shirt he was wearing. The next day, he brought me a new shirt exactly like the one he was wearing. I later learned that it is a Tajik tradition to give away the item someone likes and compliments you on. We are talking about one of the poorest countries in the world—now that is true richness!

The Corporate Sufi believes that everyone is blessed with power. Some use power wisely and some don’t; many never use their power at all.

Imagine that your Creator offered you the power to have anything you wanted and to do whatever you wanted. What would you ask for? What would you do? Stop thinking about it, because the truth is you already have all the power you need to fulfil your wishes.

You have been born with an innate gift. It is the one thing that allows you to live up to your highest potential

If you only want to achieve business success, then all your actions will gravitate towards that single goal. If you also want to achieve balance and to journey beyond, your actions will reflect those goals. The path you choose is up to you.

Your potential challenges to implementing this commitment may include:

  • Not knowing how to find your innate gift
  • Conditioning from childhood that stifles your gift
  • Lacking a goal larger than yourself
  • Missing a purpose and focus that will engage your gift
  • Fearing the thought of leaving the status quo
  • Having an inferiority complex or a lack of self-belief
  • Worrying about giving of yourself and being taken advantage of
  • Being self-centred.

You have been born with an innate gift. It is the one thing that allows you to live up to your highest potential. When you are using your gift, you are the best you can possibly be, free from fear and other constraints, and full of abundance and life. However, many people go through life without realising what their birth-day gift is, and many die without ever having opened it. It seems a terrible waste to go through life without opening your gift.

The Sufi philosophy affirms that we have all been born with a great gift, although most of us never open it because we are distracted and tempted by dazzling toys and the complications of life, which are only temporary. We forget the real purpose of why we are here and what we need to accomplish.

You are a miracle, and you possess enormous power within, but you need to open your innate gift before you shine

The Corporate philosophy is similar. The more people focus on their natural strengths, the more excitement and joy they find in their work. The more you focus on employees and on building corporate strength, the more productivity is achieved. However, not all organisations recognise or understand how to champion this philosophy in the workplace.

The Corporate Sufi philosophy leverages your inherent talent or strengths—your gift to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

You are a miracle

You are a miracle! A unique, special and precious human being! There is no one like you in the entire world. No one can smile like you, think like you, walk like you, talk like you or serve like you. From billions of people who have come into this world, no one has been like you. You are special, precious and powerful.

My cousin Asheef and his wife, Denise, were blessed with a baby boy recently. Denise, after being pregnant for nine months, underwent a C-section after 30 hours of labour in hospital before the baby was born. My wife, Farzana, my daughter, Sahar, and I went to see mother and child. While holding the baby, I noticed how alert he was, despite being less than a day old. His big eyes and expressions left me marvelling at creation and how a baby comes into being from the mother’s womb...so full of potential even as early as day one on earth!

When you reflect on creation, witness the birth of a child, observe how the day turns into night and night into day or see the seasons changing, you begin to appreciate the miracle of life.

You are a miracle, and you possess enormous power within, but you need to open your innate gift before you shine. William James, the father of modern psychology, said, “The average person rarely achieves but a small portion of his or her potential.” You may be scared to jump into your inner calling—but if you are stuck in the pond, you will never experience the bounty of the water in the ocean.

Meditation is one powerful vehicle to connect to your inner self. Through this practice, you gradually gain insight into your innate gifts

In Fihi Ma Fihi, Rumi, the Sufi giant, says, “You have a duty to perform. Do anything else, do a number of things, occupy your time fully, and yet, if you do not do this task, all your time will have been wasted.” In other words, you can do hundreds of things, but if you do not do this one thing that you have a duty to do, you have wasted your life. What is this one thing you must do?

Finding your calling

How do you find your true calling and gift? If you feel it is not practical to find and utilise your gift because of outside constraints, then you are ‘dead’ even before you start. Which means you will never find it because you do not believe it is possible. To find your calling, ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes you tick?
  • What kind of work makes you lose track of time?
  • What kind of work would you do if you won a $40-million lottery? How would it change your life?
  • What would you dare to do if you knew that you would not fail at it, no matter what?
  • Where can you make the most difference?
  • On your deathbed, what is the one regret you would have?
  • Reflect on your funeral—what would you like people you care about to say about you?

These questions bring a deeper understanding and perspective about what is important to you.

Meditation is one powerful vehicle to connect to your inner self. Through this practice, you gradually gain insight into your innate gifts. Keeping a daily journal heightens your awareness and brings clarity about who you are, not who you think you are. The cause that excites you the most will give you an indication of what you are passionate and care about.

I wrote this as part of my eulogy: “Azim was a loving father, son, husband and human being. He shined his light and inspired others to shine their light. He lived and worked to his full potential and made a positive difference to one and all, especially those who were less advantaged. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Amen.”

By being clear about what you aspire to be, it becomes easier to invite and attract the right circumstances to lead you to it. Looking back from your deathbed also puts things in perspective and attracts attention to your purpose in life and the accompanying gift you were born with.


A version of this article first appeared in the April 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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