Contentment – The Greatest Treasure

January 15th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

Are you constantly working hard to achieve a better standard of living for you and your family, to buy that better car or house, to have those dream vacations or simply to become better off? Are the people you lead busy doing the same?

If the answer is yes, have you stopped to consider where it is all going to end?

Wanting better things in this life is a never-ending cycle. As soon as we get that new car, we want to have a better one and as soon as we buy the dream house, we want to have a bigger one or move to a better, more exclusive neighborhood. As soon as we get that promotion we start working harder to get the next one. As soon as we expand our business we start working on the next expansion.

Only by turning back to Allah can we curb that cycle. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “If the son of Adam possessed a valley full of gold he would want to have two valleys, yet his mouth will only be filled by earth. Allah turns towards those who turn in repentance.”

How many people work long hours to provide for their children, only to lose them in the process? From time to time, we should take a break and spend a few minutes reflecting on what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Contentment is the real answer and the greatest treasure. As Socrates put it, “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty”. Another Greek Philosopher, Epicurus, put it another way, “Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” He also advised, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

As a leader, how do you build a culture of contentment in your organization?

Here are some key actions:

Role Modeling

To inspire and propel others in your organization towards a more contented and satisfied life, be their role model.

Do you display a character of contentment with what Allah has bestowed on you? Examine the mission, values, and vision (and its associated objectives) of the organization. Are these aligned with a spirit of contentment? Is the organization’s development aim to serve a noble cause or some worldly ambitions? A noble cause is one that serves society in some shape or form. Building a business to earn a lawful income and support the family is also noble.

When considering the success of the organization, avoid focusing solely on the material side. What kind of impact would such growth or expansion have on the organization’s members? And the community? It is commendable and warrants the work if the resulting growth better serves society’s needs. If it is for purely materialistic reasons, when would it end?

If you are not content with what Allah has given you, most likely those you influence are not content either. They will keep pushing for more. If they get better remuneration elsewhere they will jump ship.

Reduce unhealthy competition

Healthy competition among employees or members is good. The Quran urges believers to compete in matters that bring them high rewards from their Lord. However, it discourages competition in worldly things. As a leader, avoid comparing people to each other and setting unhealthy competition, which would lead to a poisonous working environment. Encourage your team members to excel at what they do best.

Develop an attitude of gratitude

Tell your people how much you appreciate their contributions and encourage them to do the same with others. Gratitude does not only bring contentment but also builds great relationships leading to better working teams and greater success.

It must be noted that contentment only applies to materialistic desires. One should never be content about doing good deeds. If you can grow your organization to create more wealth, jobs and opportunities for the community, do so. If there is a way to better or broaden your contributions to society, it is your duty to pursue it. The Prophet (PBUH) was very content with his materialistic life. Indeed, he had very few possessions. But he was constantly engaged in doing various good deeds.

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