When I was small I used to watch Cartoon Network way too much, fascinated by the different super-characters, each with a unique superpower. One of them, for example, could shoot laser beams with his eyes, another could read minds, and yet another could bring a storm.
The powers, of course, were fictional, but the concept can be applied to real life. And our superpowers are no less cool than laser-eyes.
What’s a Superpower?
Allah the Most Wise said,
“It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some of them above others in degrees that they may make use of one another for service.” (43:32)
Imagine our ummah to be a jigsaw puzzle-board. Each of us is a piece of that puzzle. A super-homemaker takes care of her husband, a wonderful Qari, so that he can teach Quran to a rich businessman, who in turn finances an international dawah organization, which employs speakers, web designers, artists, janitors and accountants. Each of these people are a piece of that big puzzle, and we’re not all the same size and shape.
When we don’t use our superpowers, we lose productivity. We lose shape, and the place in the puzzle-board we were supposed to fill in doesn’t fit us anymore. So either the piece breaks or it leaves gaping holes in the board. As a result, we are 99% a mass of mediocre individuals, and we make a mediocre ummah.
The Prophet ﷺ said the same using a different metaphor:
“People are just like camels, out of one hundred, one can hardly find a single camel suitable to ride.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The one camel that perfectly fits you is your superpower.
The Difference between Aspirations and Flair
An aspiration is an ambition, a will to succeed in life. A flair is a natural talent which, if nurtured, automatically leads to success in life.
An aspiration could be driven by several different reasons. In a hypothetical batch of engineering students, for example, one student enrolled because his parents wanted him to, another wants to be rich, and a third student has followed his older brother’s model.
But the fourth student is simply interested in the subject. From childhood he liked to play with broken radios and electric toys – taking out the tiny bulbs and motors and trying to work them with a battery. Now I ask you, which of these four students is the most likely to go on to become a great inventor, probably etching his name in history?
Recognize Your Flair
Let me tell you my own story. From childhood, I had a fine-tuned sense of reading people’s emotions. As I grew up, I found myself magnetically attracted to psychology – newspaper articles, self-help and psychology books etc. But it took me 24 years and a degree in engineering to understand that my flair is understanding people, not machines.
You don’t need fishing nets to search for your flair. Like me, you already know what your flair is – you just need to understand yourself.
Turn your flair into aspiration
It’s not enough to recognize your flair, you also need to put it in use. And how you use it is a test from Allah:
“And it is He who … has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you.” (6:165)
Abu Bakr (ra), the first Caliph of our ummah, knew how to utilize flairs. He gave the overall command of the Muslim armies to Khalid ibn al-Walid, whom the Prophet had named the Sword of Allah. On the other hand, He appointed ‘Umar as his advisor in state-level decisions, whom we call al-Faruq (the distinguisher between right and wrong). Their titles speak of their flairs.
Hone Your Flair
Khalid ibn al-Walid (ra) was a great warrior, but he didn’t just pop-out one day a fully-fledged fighter. He honed his talent with his sweat and blood, fine-tuning the arts of battle, and constantly improving and growing as a military commander.
It takes great effort and perseverance to pursue your aspiration. But you put in less effort, enjoy the process more and earn better and quicker results if your aspiration and flair are one and the same. Once your flair is sufficiently developed, it becomes a superpower.
Having a superpower makes us super-productive individuals, so that we make a super-productive ummah.
First published in Ibana: http://www.ibanaway.com/unlock-your-superpower/