Money measures nothing except greed.
When money becomes the objective, misery is the return.
Service is the goal, the result of which is prosperity.
Money is an effect, a result. What do I mean? Well, you see, we live in a world of cause and effect. The fundamental rule here is, ‘If you want an effect, work on the cause.’ For example, peace is an effect; it is the result of justice. So if you want peace, then seek to ensure justice for all. If injustice prevails, peace can never come about because people will fight against injustice as indeed they should and peace will be disturbed.
Similarly, money is the result of intelligent effort. The effort can be dishonorable or honorable. Both kinds yield money. One yields money coupled with anxiety, fear, disgrace, hatred, shame, and the ill will of people. The other kind yields money with respect, honor, goodwill, love, gratitude and the prayers of people. Your call which kind you want. Remember, the second kind is actually easier. And you will sleep better too.
Remember also that money is a measure of nothing except greed. It is what you do with money which counts, not how much you have. So seek to do something with money that has a lasting positive effect. That is what gives meaning to money and makes it a source of benefit to you and others and gives you an opportunity to leave behind a legacy of honor.
As the lyrics of the famous song by Abba go:
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man’s world
Money, money, money
In the rich man’s world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It’s a rich man’s world
The biggest killer globally today is not war but poverty. And that is not the result of lack of resources but lack of compassion and concern. The fact that we have created a world in which 62 of the richest people own more than 50% of the global population, is not simply astonishing and shameful but very encouraging. Because what we created, we can change. That we must change it, is not something that needs emphasis. A world (or country) with a huge income and wealth disparity is less prosperous, less peaceful and less happy than a country where the income/wealth disparity is not so marked. It is in the interest of everyone, including the wealthy, that wealth is shared. That increases disposable income and buying power which translates into a stronger economy and more prosperity. Strangely the powers that be, who are supposed to be intelligent, don’t seem to understand this and insist on cornering resources at the cost of the vast majority.
Friends are not forever, but for as long as you live.
And that is long enough, so choose wisely
But first take the trouble to decide who is a good friend.
1. A good friend is someone who tells you what you need to hear, not only what you want to hear.
2. A good friend is someone who stabs you in the chest (who corrects you), not in the back.
3. A good friend is someone who reminds you about doing something for your life after death, for the day when you will stand before Allah.
4. A good friend is someone from whom you learn new things.
5. A good friend is someone whose silence you find interesting and relaxing and whose conversation is enlightening.
6. A good friend is someone who is interested in you enough to devote time and thought to you.
7. A good friend is someone who you can look up to and hold as a role model. A good friend is someone who is always there with you even when he is not. A good friend is someone who you can meet after a decade and pick up a string of conversation as if you’d met him the previous evening. A good friend is someone who challenges you to be and do your best, one who will not accept your excuses for poor quality or laziness. A good friend is someone who is happier when you succeed, than when he succeeds himself. I had such a friend and his name was Berty (Cuthbert Suares, Jr.) Now hold on a minute before you start judging your friends, which you must do of course, but ask yourself first, ‘Am I a ‘good friend’ to my friends?’ Invite the ‘ghost competitor’ and beat your own record. The ‘ghost competitor’ is a tool that great athletes use to improve their own standards of performance. If you are Usain Bolt, you are already the fastest man on the planet. That you are actually slightly slower than a hippo is neither here nor there, because hippos don’t compete in the Olympics. So how will you improve your time? What they do is to imagine their competitor running at their shoulder, about to overtake them. That drives them to ever greater effort. That is the ‘ghost competitor’, which we all need, to stay alive, to stay current, to stay relevant. Beware of complacency. Cancer is not the deadliest killer. Complacency is. Interestingly, complacency is often the result of success. It comes in the same package. It is brought on also by lots of praise that you will get when you do something well, which, if you are not careful, will lead you to start believing that you are truly great.
Remember then what you say in Salah: Allahu Akbar – Allahﷻ is the Greatest. You are not the greatest. Allahﷻ is. And about you? Look at the weakest, meanest, lowliest of people and say to yourself, ‘There, but for the Grace of Allahﷻ goes Yawar’ (Remember to substitute your own name for mine in this sentence). Push yourself beyond whatever you thought was your limit because nobody knows the best that he/she can do. Nobody dies of working too hard if they are doing it voluntarily. And if you do die, remember that you will die anyway. It is not that you lived or died that are important but how you lived and how you died.
Key word : SOMEHOW!!
As they say, ‘Even if you are on the right road, if you simply sit there, you will get run over.’
Change is the name for circulation – of blood in your veins. If that stops, you die. Flowing water sees change, brings about change, is change itself. Stop it and it stagnates and starts to stink. You stop changing and you die because the rest of the world doesn’t stop changing. Dinosaurs and Nokia died. That is not sad. What is sad is that they didn’t even know why?
You don’t die when you stop breathing; you die when you stop living. You stop living when you stop changing. You stop living when you stop feeling excited, inquisitive, energetic, and enthusiastic. You stop living when you have no more mountains to climb, no rivers to cross, no tears to cry, no laughs to laugh. You stop living when you have no great goal to achieve – no matter that you may not live long enough to see it achieved, but having the goal to work towards keeps you alive. You don’t die when you stop breathing; you die when you stop dreaming. One of the things that I have been very fond of, is trekking, especially climbing mountains. I have done a good bit of that in the Western Ghats in Southern India, climbing on one occasion through thick forest straight up the side of the mountain, 4500 feet. I went up to Singampatti from Kanyakumari. 4500 feet may not sound like much in itself, but put it on an almost vertical hillside, no clear pathway, the opportunity to descend without brakes at any time, thorn-bush, razor grass, hot, humid weather, nettles, cicadas buzzing in the heat…….all ad infinitum……and you have an entirely different perspective. However one thing that I always looked forward to was to cross the half way, no return mark. At that point, you have not achieved the goal, you are exhausted, sweaty, irritated with yourself for having started this stupid enterprise and no way to go back, because it is even more difficult to descend a steep path than it is to ascend it. Yet when you sit for a while and take a drink of the by now tepid water that you are carrying, your second wind kicks in. Then you start up the hillside once again, looking forward to scaling the last height in due course. And then comes the moment … not too soon…but after some more hours of effort, but by now the altitude has cooled the heat, the forest is getting less thick and anticipation of success gives you the energy that you need. Finally you reach the top. And what do you see? You see the land spread out before you as far as the eye can see. You see the glint of the ocean on the horizon. You see blue lakes and irrigation tanks, punctuating the patchwork quilt of innumerable shades of green, each a neat square that grows rice. You see the serpent eagle and his mate floating effortlessly on motionless out-spread wings riding the thermals. You can’t see the minute adjustment of their pinion feathers which guide their direction. And on one occasion, as I stood watching all this, I looked up at the hillside behind me and I saw a leopard sitting on his haunches and watching me. We looked at each other for a while and then he decided I looked decidedly unappetizing and turned up his nose and walked away. I agreed with him and walked the 14 kilometers to habitation in the tea gardens which straddle this tail end of the Western Ghat mountain range with Madurai on one side and KanyaKumari on the other. Why am I telling you this story? I am telling you this story because as we work towards a great goal you will begin to become restless, irritated and impatient and inclined to take shortcuts and cut corners – all for the excellent reason that you want to see the project up and started as soon as possible. But in this urgency, there will be the tendency to accept compromises. I am writing this to warn you of the biggest danger to success. The C word. Compromise. For to compromise is to die a death without honor. Those who have the courage to work for a great goal understand that ‘possible’ and ‘impossible’ are terms that define your own standpoint – how you see yourself – they point to who you are – not to the goal at all. Soaring at 30,000 feet is possible for an eagle or for a man with a flying machine. It is not possible or impossible in itself. All it needs is for you to ask, ‘How can I do it?’ Not, ‘Can it be done?’ Differentiation creates brand. Brand creates identity. Identity creates influence. Influence creates followers and loyalty and the opportunity to change society. Without differentiation you are a grain of rice in a sack. Excellence is an expression of self-respect. So is mediocrity. We strive for excellence not because someone is watching or because we are playing to the gallery but because excellence is about us – how we see ourselves, what we think of ourselves, how we choose to define ourselves. We define ourselves and the world accepts that definition and treats us accordingly. So think before you define yourself. Excellence requires sustained heroic effort – often in the face of great discouragement. So only those excel, who revel in the effort. The adrenalin drives them. Paradoxically they are goal focused but take pleasure from the difficulty of reaching that goal. For them the journey is the destination; because the excitement is only in the chase and ends with the catch. Mount Everest is a worthy goal to strive for because its dimensions are measured in height. The same distance on level ground wouldn’t be worth talking about. It is the difficulty which adds value to the goal. If you think success is difficult, try failure. To accept mediocrity is to accept failure at the start. Mediocrity ensures that your failure is permanent. That drug is called ‘compromise.’ I know that there are more mediocre people in the world than those who achieve excellence. But ask yourself who you would rather be – who would you like to emulate? Who do you choose as your role model? That is why Tipu Sultan said, ‘One day in the life of a tiger is worth more than a hundred years in the life of a jackal.’ Ask yourself which life you would like to live – for in the end, both die. Compromise is to attitude what cancer is to the body. The body doesn’t fight cancer but accepts it because it doesn’t recognize the threat. It accepts cancer cells until they kill it. Only those who hate mediocrity can excel. Not dislike, not are irritated by it, not anything mild – but those who pathologically hate mediocrity. Those who can’t stomach it at any cost. Those who are repelled by it, find it disgusting, abhorrent and hateful and do anything to get out of it. Compromise, like cancer, destroys from within. But unlike cancer it is infectious. Excellence takes effort. Few make it. Failure is painful. Nobody likes it. Mediocrity is a narcotic which makes destruction seem acceptable. So people settle for less than what they can be. They get distracted by others and their mediocre efforts – they make excuses as if they can change reality – they imagine that if they can find others who will agree with them, their mediocrity will be acceptable. It will be – to other mediocre people. But to those focused on excellence, who look not at others but at their own potential and beyond it, mediocrity is despicable, no matter what guise it comes in. And to tell you the truth, the mediocre ones also recognize this in the dead of the night, when they are alone with themselves, that their efforts don’t even begin to approach the boundaries of what could have been if only they had not compromised. Failure is not the enemy of excellence. Mediocrity is. Failure is painful and drives effort. Nobody willingly fails or remains in failure. But mediocrity is anesthetized failure. It is fatal because the victim does nothing to counter it because he can’t feel the pain. I remind myself about a basic principle that I have always followed in my own life – It is better to fail trying to achieve an extraordinary goal, than to settle for a compromise. Why Extraordinary? Because good enough, never is. The important thing for us to remember is never to compromise. No matter how frustrating it seems. As I always say, when weighing things in a balance, it is only the last few grains which tip the balance. Until then you don’t see any difference. And that is why in my view there are two fundamental laws:
- That the balance will not tip until the last few grains fall it.
- That the last few grains will always tip the balance.
Both laws are equally true.
Remember that if we compromise for anything less than what we dreamed of, then in the evening of our days we too will be forced to look back on our lives and say, “If only we had not sold our dream so cheaply!!”