“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery”
These were the words inscribed on the cover folder of Timelenders’ “Strategic Vision” Workshop that I attended in January 2012 in Dubai, UAE.
As somebody who never believed in the power of visions – or was at least a major skeptic in the importance of visions – this workshop was an eye-opener for me.
I’m a very practical person, and I hate to delve into theory. I’ve met many people who paralyze themselves from achieving goals because they didn’t have a vision! Developing a vision, at best, seemed to me an exercise done by a gifted few people whom Allah (glorified and exalted be He) blesses with inspiration of what their ultimate vision is; and at worst, a dreaming exercise.
However, the way that the Timelenders team put together the content of this workshop, under the guidance of their founder and CEO Suleman Ahmer (a visionary leader himself), totally changed my misconceptions about visions and vision exercises.
Like every other skill, developing visions is a skill that can be learned. It needs certain tools and techniques, and it takes practice and thought. Mr. Suleman Ahmer and his team developed a practical and concise framework consisting of the necessary tools & techniques for vision development supported by years of research and anecdotal evidence that actually helped transform lives. Moreover, what I loved most about this course is that this framework is built upon strong Islamic values and a sound understanding of the deen that makes it foolproof if implemented correctly, inshaAllah.
Below is a snapshot of some of the key lessons (but I highly recommend attending the workshop to learn from the source itself):
1. The Importance of Visions
We spent a lot of the 1st day discussing the importance of visions and how the clarity of one’s vision influences one’s choices in life. Moreover, we spent a considerable amount of time tackling 3 major excuses people have for not wanting to have a vision, these are:
- “Everything is fine.”
- “We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.”
- “Everything is fate.”
The workshop spent a session on the concept of Excellence, which was articulated as “to do something in a fashion that, in the available resources, cannot be done better,” or “to do the best with one’s available resources.”
3. Balancing Roles
The workshop also delved into the importance of having visions in different aspects of our lives. Mr. Ahmer argued that Islam requires that when we develop visions, we start with the roles we have in life and ensure that our performance in those roles do not fall below a certain level defined to us by Islam. This concept was novel to me and very helpful in answering the common question of how to balance our different roles in life.
Some quotes from the workshop:
“Clarity of vision, influences our choices in life.”
“A vision not worth dying for is not worth living for.“
“Life’s too short to make a U-turn.“
“Without a clear vision, we’re at severe risk!“
“Excellence: To do something in a fashion that in the available resources can not be done better.“
“Visions help us fight adversity.“
“In the modern world, happiness is usually confused with pleasure. That’s not always true. Happiness is nothing but a shadow of a meaningful life.“
“To live a meaningful life, you need 4 elements: 1) Strategic Vision, 2) Strategic Time Management, 3) Competence (Skills), and 4) Leadership.“
Timelenders’ “Strategic Vision” workshop is a highly recommended course for all ProductiveMuslims, and I would go further to say that it’s a pre-requisite to becoming a ProductiveMuslim: having a vision gives you a purpose for your own productivity. Find out more at timelenders.com.