Life is in many ways a perpetual journey into challenges and struggles. Most often than not, things don’t go as we plan. There are minor glitches such as load-shedding and traffic jam and there major ones such as losing a job or failing in your first startup. The trouble remains all the time. The art of staying inspired in such a challenging setting is to start seeing difficulties of life from an entirely different light.
Asif Iqbal is the Executive Director – Marketing at the fast-growing local conglomerate Meghna Group of Industries. Mr. Iqbal is considered as one of the finest business leaders in the country having experience of working in a diverse set of industries starting from FMCG to Telecom to Logistics and Retail to Music. He is also a widely popular lyricist with a host of hit songs under his belt.
In his recently published altogether illuminating interview with Future Startup, Mr. Iqbal shares some of the lessons he has learned from his several-decades-long career spanning multiple industries and countries. Our hope is that they will help you to live a better life.
“Don’t despair when you come across challenges and difficult times. Difficult times are nature’s way of training and preparing us for life’s challenges”.
We should change our view to challenges and difficulties we come across in life. Once we learn to see life’s challenges from a more accepting perspective, everything changes. When we start to see challenges as highly beneficial experiences, adventures in learning, or even as a blessing in disguise that would be a welcome shift in perception. With the right mental attitude, we can completely reframe the way we experience challenges. With a little practice, we can come to view challenges as some of our most valuable life experiences.
“In my early life, I went through the sufferings of Liberation War. Afterward, we had to suffer due to the political circumstances. We never lose hope but at that time, it was hard to endure. But now that I look back, I realize those difficult days prepared me for the greater challenges of life”.[su_divider top="no" divider_color="#adacab" link_color="#edde29" size="1"][/su_divider]
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We all feel disheartened when we make mistakes and fail. We lose confidence and doubt our ability. Mistakes that we make and failures that we endure are our making. Growth comes from taking challenges and when we take challenge sometimes make mistakes and fail. At the same time, we also learn and grow. This is the essential paradox of growth. It is important to understand this paradox. Every mistake we make is, in fact, an opportunity to learn.
“Never be afraid of making mistakes. That said, never make the same mistake twice,” says Asif Iqbal of Meghna Group. “The entire point of making mistake is to learn and if you don’t learn from your past mistakes, the whole exercise becomes futile”.
He then goes on to explain how an organizational culture that allows employees to make mistake and fail spur innovation and creativity:
“In an organization when you allow people to make mistakes, they will take more risk and initiatives. As a result, more innovations will happen.”
Don’t despair when you come across challenges and difficult times. Difficult times are nature’s way of training and preparing us for life’s challenges
“Believe in your ability to overcome, achieve and accomplish,” says Mr. Iqbal. “We often give up too early and doubt our ability to endure. But most of the time, if we try a little harder and stick to it, we can overcome”.
This is such a commonplace advice but many of us often struggle to internalize essence of this. It is not only about our ability to do everything and achieve, it is also about our ability to endure when we fail and stand up again, it is also our ability to take challenges and learn. The moment we believe in our ability, everything changes.
“Love life and everyone and everything in it”, suggests Asif Iqbal. “Life is a fundamentally challenging affair. It is tough, at times. Love is what helps us to endure and go through our days with a smile on our face no matter how hard things get”.
Recent studies suggest that people who tend to help others without any ulterior motive often end up doing better in life.
“The power of giving is often underrated in our society,” suggests Mr. Asif Iqbal. “We are always asking for favors, taking things and often flinch when people ask for something from us”.
In his wonderful book Give and Take, Wharton Professor Adam Grant outlines a new theory of success. According to which, in this reconfigured world, our success often depends on how we interact with others and suggests that giving is the secret to getting ahead in life. Echoing Grant, Mr. Iqbal goes on:
“Don’t be like those people. Give before you get. Giving is more effective a strategy to moving up in life and career than taking that we often choose because it feels effective to take in the short term. But in the long run, it does not work. Be a giver”.
“Relativity and comparison are always pushed in our family, school, and social environment. There will always be a better, smarter, more capable person than you”, says Asif Iqbal.
This has turned into a social epidemic in the recent years. We are in a constant race to portraying ourselves better than the next person. Our schools encourage competition, our parents encourage competition and our society judges one’s worth in comparison to his/her peers. This has given birth to a soul-crushing tendency that has unleashed a perpetual discontentment in the society.
Comparing ourselves to others’ accomplishments is apparently a losing battle. This is an unending race. There will always be someone who has done something that we wished we could also accomplish. Asif Iqbal continues -
“It’s my philosophy not to compete, rather to create. If you create a new way you become the pioneer which others follow hence you don’t compete”.
(Ruhul Kader contributed to this story)