I consider myself lucky that I learned the great lessons of wisdom at a very young age. Life took me to a rare journey where I spent my early twenties with a wise man who taught me the wisdom that I had never imagined existed. My mentor was a medical doctor who was a serious student of philosophy, history, and religion. His name is Dr. Muhammad Iqbal who is now a practicing physician in Australia and he taught me all those lesson that helped me become a great human being. By the way, he still is my mentor. I often talk with him and still learn from him.
In my early 20s, I spent all of my Sundays regularly with him and learned as much as I could from him. In order to learn more from him I did volunteer medical internship under his guidance where he taught me medicine, but along with medicine the real reason to spend time with him was to learn how to live. He educated me about the life. Today, I will share the wisdom he taught me with all of you and save at least 50 years of your life. Because if you are in your twenties right now, these are the lessons that you will learn probably in your 50’s or 60’s or probably later. It is also possible that you may not learn these lessons at all, because this wisdom is not easily available.
In this blog, I will discuss 25 life lessons that I learned from my mentor Dr. Iqbal. These lessons changed my life, and I sincerely desire that others’ should also learn these lessons. I promise you, if you read these lessons, and take notes, and implement them in your life, you will be a far better human being and a far more successful person than you can ever imagine.
Now, lets discuss the 25 valuable life lessons I learned from my mentor.
1- NATURAL LAWS
We are surrounded by the natural laws. You can call them divine laws if you like. One of those laws is “the law of cause and effect”; it ensures that every action has a consequence. You can call it as the “Law of Requital”. It means that if you do good deed, something good will happen to you, but if you do a bad deed, something bad will happen to you sooner or later. The laws of nature are blind, they are bound to produce the results. The laws are so precise that even if you just think of doing something good, the law of cause and effect will come in action. Similarly, if you think negative, it will produce results as well. Of course, the intensity of the results will be directly proportional to the intensity of the action. The bigger and greater the action, the greater the result. However, sometimes, the laws will produce the results late, that should not make you think that the laws are not producing results; the results will come at the right time. In short, if you do an act equal to the size of a pea, the nature will bring the results in front of you sooner or later. Therefore, beware of the laws.
Now, if you have broken the nature’s laws, the only way to nullify the effects of the laws is to compensate for your mistakes. For example, if you steal from someone, until you return the stolen property and seek forgiveness, the harsh results will be waiting for you. But if you compensate, thats called repentance. Now the results will not come or if they do, they will not damage you that much. Always remind yourself of these unseen divine laws.
2-YOUR GREAT-GRANDSON WILL NOT REMEMBER YOUR NAME:
My mentor taught me a very valuable lesson, that never ever do a good deed for the sake of your name’s popularity. Instead, do a good deed because it is a right thing to do; do a good thing because of the God Almighty. Don’t do a good deed because of your name, because you will be dead soon.
He asked me, “Do you remember the name of your grandfather?” I said, “yes”. Then he said, “Do you remember the name of the father of your grandfather?” I said, “No, I don’t.” He then said, “Similarly, your grandson’s children probably will not remember your name. Therefore, don’t do the right thing for your name’s popularity. It is like doing the right thing for the wrong reason.” Then he said, “But if you do the good things for the sake of God, your name will be made alive forever.” Just change the intentions.
The lesson I learned was, that we should not do good deeds to impress people and to get praises from people and to make our name popular. Because highly likely the third to fourth generation down the line, no one will remember our names. But if we do good deeds for the right reason, our name will remain alive forever.
3- I CAN CARRY MY OWN WEIGHT:
Once I went to buy groceries with him. He grabed the groceries bag which was really heavy. I asked him if I can help. He refused by saying, “I can carry my own weight.” Then he further said that it was actually his mentor who taught him this lesson. This lesson had the hidden wisdom that take responsibility of your own life. Carry your own weight, and apply this principle in all aspects of your life. He was a rich man who had so many servants but he always preferred to do his daily chores with his own hands and always reminded us that we should carry our own weight.
4- LEARNING WITH NO CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR IS NOT LEARNING AT ALL:
Once I saw him reading a bed side manners doctors manual. The very next day, I saw him doing the exact same thing and applying those principles on his patients. He was exactly dealing with his patients the same way as he read in the book. When I saw that, I said, “You just started applying what you read yesterday?” He said, “Learning with no change in behavior is no learning at all.” Once I heard that, I made it the part of my life style. I now immediately apply what I learn.
5- STUDY BOOKS:
I have never seen a person in my life with as many books as my mentor has. He is still fond of reading. What is astonishing about his thousands of books is, if you grab any book from his collection, you will find his written notes and sticky notes in the book. Literally every single page had some notes or sticky notes hanging in all of his books. On the contrary, I saw another man’s library with thousands of books, but when I opened his books, majority of the books were untouched and unread.
I learned a lesson from my mentor, don’t just read a book, study it, absorb it, and finish it, and remember it. Then teach it and share the knowledge with others.
6- THE PURPOSE OF LIFE:
Dr. Iqbal also taught me that the purpose of life is to help and serve others – not to flourish your ownself only. This was a new lesson for me because I thought the purpose was to establish a successful career and financially be rich. He taught me, that if you just change the purpose, your life in this world and the life after will become a heaven and success will run after you. He was absolutely correct.
7- DISCIPLINE OF TIME
There are some messages that he taught me without using his words. He used to leave for his hospital every morning at 9:30 am. Now many of you would say, what is unique about it? Everyone does it. The point I am making here is that he used to leave at 9:30 then come back home at 3:00 pm. Had lunch , then he took a 90 minute nap, then he was all set to leave for his clinic at 5:00 pm where he stayed until 11:30 pm. Then he came back home and studied every night until 2:30 am. Now tell me, can any of you easily do that every single day? This was his every day routine, and he never changed that routine no matter what- except Sundays. Thats when I used to learn all the wisdom from him (on Sundays).
So I learned this lesson, that make a schedule and stick with it and don’t leave it no matter what. Respect your time and don’t compromise on it at any cost.
8- SAY NO TO DINNERS AND PARTIES
I have seen him saying “No” to so many family and friends get together by simply saying that it is my clinic time, sorry I cannot. If there is some really important meeting like a wedding or anything, he would say, I would come around 11:00 pm at night after my work. He never compromised his work. Surprisingly, no one minded or got upset at his refusal of invitations, in fact, his presence used to be the best part of any social gathering. People would wait for him that late and would love his company. He would be treated like a VIP wherever he went. This taught me three important lessons:
– Don’t hasitate to say No
– Don’t worry about what people will think
– Don’t be always available
If you develop these habits, you will earn permanent respect and self-worth and, people will admire you for being a disciplined person with priorities.
9- SAY NO TO WATCHING SPORTS OR ENTERTAINMENT:
I never saw him watching sports or movies on TV. He was always reading and studying in his free time. The only thing he ever watched on TV was any educational documentary. Occasionally, he would watch some news but that was rare. This is another lesson that if you want to be successful, your entertainment should be books and education rather than TV shows and sports.
10- ALWAY HAVE A FAMILY TIME EVERY DAY
Despite having such a tight schedule, Dr. Iqbal always found time for his family. Never ever did I see any of his kids complaining that he never gave them time. He had the lunch time with family, then the dinner time with family, then he went for a walk with his wife and kids sometimes too. They had a wonderful fruitful conversations after dinner on a walk. Yes it was after 11:00 pm at night yet he managed this one hour for family. Then later the study time was not alone either, he was teaching his kids and wife medicine as well, because everyone was a doctor in the house. So this was actually a family education time.
11- ALL HABITS CAN BE CHANGED
Dr. Iqbal used to smoke cigarettes on a regular basis, but one day he just quit it. It was a surprise for me that how can someone quit the smoking habit in just a day? I asked him, “How can you just quit it?” He replied, “Any habit can be changed, it is just a matter of decision.” I learned that people who failed to change their habits actually never sincerely made a decision. We are not committed to changing our habits.
12- EXERCISE EVERY DAY
Despite having a busy daily routine, he always found time for exercise. His exercise was his brisk walk and sometimes it was car wash. Yes car wash, he used to say that I don’t wash my car because I love my car. I wash it because I need a reason for some exercise. His car wash was very exhausting that left him all sweaty. This gave me a lesson that it doesn’t matter how busy you are, you always have time for some exercise.
13- EAT LESS
I never saw him overeating and later complaining or regretting that why did I overeat. He ate everything, enjoyed everything and still does. But he doesn’t go for the second serving. He has maintained his ideal body weight and is still 70
KG man as he used to be in his 30s and 40s. He is going to be 64 next month.
14- LEAD FROM THE FRONT:
I have never seen such leadership skills and ability in anyone like Dr. Iqbal in my life yet. For any family event or friend’s gathering he was always the person you would see as the man in charge, every time and everywhere. Everyone looked up to him for suggestions and advice. Everyone among his friends and social circle looked up to him for suggestions. People shared those intimate secrets and details with him that one can never imagine. All of this happened because people had developed the trust, love, and connection with him because of his habit of leading from the front. It was quite natural for everyone to look up to him because of his leadership abilities and skills. Now how did people trust and loved him? Because they were reciprocating what he did, it was his behavior towards them.
He is the most sincere person you can ever find in your life. He would love you, respect you, and if necessary he would scold you if it was good for you. It is rightly said, “Sometimes you have to be unkind to be kind.” He is a classic example of it, and people love him more when he is unkind because people could see the sincerity. There are so many lessons in this particular paragraph.
Once I asked him, why are you successful in all aspects of your life? Especially financially. What advice will you give me to be successful like you. He said, “Remember this one word… PLANNING”. Just plan your life, the better you plan your life, the better your life will become.
16- EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE:
I still remember when his mother passed away; I was with him that day. He looked so energetic and still sad. Then he took me to his library and took the holy Book and started reading and giving me a message with wisdom. I was astonished that how can someone do that when his mother just passed away. I asked him that how can you come back to normal so quickly. He said, “Death is the part of life. We all have to face it. We all need to be strong. Today it is my mother, some day it will be me.”
That gave me a message that don’t let the biggest paid affect your mental health and life.
17- I ALSO BROUGHT SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER:
Another interesting lesson I learned from my mentor was that when his daughter got married and was moving to another country with her husband. I asked him, “how come you are so happy and composed? Aren’t you sad that your daughter is going away?” He said, “ Why should I be sad? I also brought someone’s daughter. Didn’t I? That’s how the life is.” This sentence literally blew my mind away. I had never imagined this kind of believe system and attitude by anyone before.
18- YOUR WIFE IS YOUR FRIEND:
Another lesson I learned was that your wife is your friend. I asked him that why doesn’t he and his wife argue ever. He said, “Consider your wife as your friend. When you consider your wife as your friend, you will want to make sure your friend is not hurt is not bothered in anyway. If you consider your life partner as your friend, you will never have an argument.”
19- QUESTION EVERYTHING YOU HEAR OR READ?
Another important and perhaps the most life changing lesson he taught me that question everything you hear or read. Don’t believe anything just be listening to it or reading it. Question why it happened, and how it happened. This changed my life forever. Since then I always question everything. It made me a better person and learner. This philosophy grew me mentally and spiritually. I suggest you all should question everything. Whether it is your teacher or elder saying something to you. Just question in a respectful manner that why and how it happened?
20- TRY TO ALWAYS DIG DEEPER TO EXTRACT A LOGIC IN EVERYTHING
Don’t just stop at questioning. In fact, try to find the logic behind everything. Things should be logical. If something is out of logic, then reject it. Use your mind rather than emotions while making decisions.
21- DID ANYONE EVER ASK THE PRICE OF YOUR CLOTHES?
My mentor gave me a very important lesson, that groom and dress well, be clean, but don’t waste money on expensive clothes, watches, and shoes. He said, “You need to have the character, knowledge, personality, and integrity.” Then he said, “Did anyone ever asked you the pricing of your clothes in a meeting? If you just dress well and don’t buy expensive clothes, do you think people will close the doors on your face? No they will not. Education is seen even in economical clothes, while the expensive clothes cannot hide the lack of education. So be educated rather than a show off. The same branded shirt can be bought of normal price with exact same quality at a non-branded store. Save that money, and donate it or give it to a charity. The charity will protect you and your future.
22- THOSE WHO CANNOT IMPRESS OTHERS WITH THEIR CHARACTER, THEY TRY TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH PRETENSE
Then he also said, “People try to buy expensive clothes to show off. It is pretense. Remember, those who cannot impress others with their character, they try to impress others with pretense and showing off. Once you are dead, no one will remember your clothing and watches. But people will remember, what you did for them.”
23- DONT BE MY FOLLOWER BUT MY STUDENT AND DISAGREE WITH ME:
My mentor always told me not to be a follower but a student. He strictly prohibited all of his students from following him. Instead he said, question me, and disagree with me if you feel I am wrong. Use your brain, thats the only organ that differentiates us from animals, use this organ.
24- DON’T TALK ABOUT PEOPLE
My mentor taught me a great wisdom that he often used to say. He used to say, “It is a famous saying that great people talk about ideas, and small people talk about people.” He used to get upset when he saw people talking about people. He used to say, “bring me ideas, bring me the plans for future how to make this world a better place rather than talking about people. This training made me an outstanding person that I am today. I always think of ideas and try to keep moving forward by thinking of ideas.
25- THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF DREAMS- ONE YOU DREAM WHILE YOU SLEEP WHILE THE OTHERS YOU SEE WHILE BEING AWAKE- BUT I ADVISE YOU TO DREAM THE THRID KIND OF DREAM
Another important lesson that my mentor taught me was to dream higher and keep dreaming of great ideas. He used to say that the dreams are those that don’t let you sleep. This ideology helped me tremendously in my life.
My mentor taught me all these lessons. But these are just some of the lessons that he taught me. In another future blog, I will write more lessons I learned from him. For now, enjoy reading these 25 lessons, that surely will have a great impact on your life, just like these lessons changed my life and made me a successful person.
Dr. Hassaan Tohid