Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Values at the Workplace

A lot of us spend a large fraction of our most productive waking hours at work. For many, work influences their whole personality. One cannot implement a personal agenda to improve oneself without taking the time to think about the values one brings to one's workplace.

Perhaps the primary factors for consideration should be the choice of work and the choice of the organization where one will do the work. Work should not be one that is against the principles of Islam, nor should it be harming Muslims. The company's mission and vision statements should be aligned with yours. One should be careful in this regards because the covert mission of most businesses is just to make profits, despite the consequences. No matter how lucrative or high the position, if it does help you fulfill your destiny to be the complete human being you were intended to become, it does not deserve your consideration. Ideally the position should require you to develop in areas of your interest and background, using skills that you know are your strengths. Most importantly, your job should fit well in the larger canvas of your being and should not be a source of discontinuity to your personality, i.e. you should be the same person at work as you are at home.

Some Muslims emphasize only the importance of rituals. According to them to be a good Muslim one should never miss their salaat, yet they do not realize that work can also be a form of worshiping their Lord. A Muslim must be good at what he does. He should strive for perfection - not because he will get a good performance rating at the end of the year, nor because of that performance related bonus, nor for the salary increment, nor for the eligibility of a promotion, nor to be called a "genius" in front of managers and colleagues, but because he is worshiping his Lord. Worship requires striving for purity of intention and perfection of action. It is from this motivation, that a Muslim keeps learning new things at work, brings innovation at his job, reads extensively about his industry and relates it to his work. He strives to become a true professional in his field.

Another aspect of work is the interpersonal relations one develops with colleagues. Some people play games and tricks to get ahead. To them personal advancement justifies almost everything as long as it is in accordance with company policy. To a Muslim, hurting others and not fulfilling their rights properly is a shortcoming. He knows that the heaviest thing on his scales on Judgement Day will be the good manners he cultivated with in dealing fairly with others. One should take advantage of the diversity at the workplace to learn about different cultures and befriend them and not develop a communal mentality and deal only with one's countrymen. When someone deals well with everyone as a basis of such personal values, he will see blessings in his actions as his colleagues will become inclined to him and he will discover new opportunities through them -- and we don't know which relationship will reap maximum benefits.

If you follow the proper ethics at work, you will not have to chase after new opportunities, but the opportunities will always chase you.

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