Business Lessons from Rumi

Even though more than 800 years have passed since Rumi’s death, the wisdom contained in his verses is eternal and can serve as a guide in both our personal and professional lives. Let’s examine a few of his quotes: 

  1. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”Steve Jobs was a very successful business leader and a global celebrity who revolutionized personal computing. However he was thrown out of the same company he had built into a leading technology business across the world. “I was out — and very publicly out,” he recalled in a commencement speech at Stanford University. “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I was a very public failure.” After such utter humiliation and loss of face, many people would have simply given up or consigned themselves to the background to lick their wounds.  Instead Steve used this experience to work on his shortcomings and he came back with aplomb, taking his company to new heights. Often the biggest wounds or biggest crisis in our lives carry the seed of transformation. They drag us out of our comfort zone, forcing us to re-examine our closely guarded beliefs and prejudices and make way for new ideas and approach to life.
  2. “What you seek is seeking you.” – We are a part of existence and hence all our dreams or the things we seek are already a part of our existential consciousness. In short, your dreams are endorsed by the universe. You would not have had the desire in the first place if the universe did not will it. Hence Rumi exhorts us to never give up on our dreams because hidden in those dreams is our roadmap for growth and evolution.
  3. “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.” – Life can only be truly experienced by the brave, by the ones willing to plunge headlong into life. In fact, the more security you crave, the more you end up distancing yourself from life itself. In spite of whatever we might do, life cannot be predicted or contained. Hence, it should be our goal to live the time we have consciously, intensely, and fiercely. Our fears limit us only to the extent we allow them to.
  4. “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”- In 2003, Carr, a 32-year-old New Yorker’s regular check-up at her doctor’s office revealed a rare and incurable Stage IV cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, existing in her liver and lungs. Instead of bowing down to the prognosis, she challenged her disease headlong. Armed with a new nutritional lifestyle, she used her learning from the experience to create a series of successful self-help books and documentaries. She subsequently launched a wellness website which is followed by over 40,000 people. Today, Carr is celebrating a decade of “thriving with cancer,” and is now revered as one of the most prominent experts on healthy living.
  5. “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”– Actions speak louder than words. Instead of thundering about a million things, focus on a few things and do them well. Similarly, being clear, precise, and meaningful in your communication ensures that you get your point across and create the desired response. For example, Steve Jobs often followed the rule of three while making his presentations. He knew a list of three things is more intriguing than two and far easier to remember than 22. Jobs divided his iPhone presentation into three sections. He then said, “Today we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first, a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second, is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.” He finally concluded, “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, they are one device and we are calling it iPhone!”

These are just a few of my favorite quotes from the repertoire of Rumi’s work. I invite you to come up with your favorite quotes and tell us how they have affected your life.

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