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Musings: Soulular Leadership

Celebrating Life, and “Soulular” Leadership 

There is much to celebrate. March 20 marks the first day of Spring, which also is the Muslim New Year. Also, March 6 is Tariq’s birthday. He would be 37. To celebrate, I do not merely consider the words I write about him. Nor is it simply his short life, or even who he was as a boy and a young man. It’s what he has created as a legacy, which will last forever.One of the biggest blessings in my life was to start the Tariq Khamisa Foundation in memory of Tariq. TKF, with the grace of God, has been hugely successful in getting the message of forgiveness out to the public. It has done an amazing job teaching kids the principles of nonviolence. In its 17th year TKF has developed a Safe School Model that is turning violent and unsafe schools into safe schools. TKF has created a solution of “stopping kids from killing kids.” This is huge.So as Tariq’s birthday approaches, my family and my sentiments are not of sadness and not of an empty chair. We actually celebrate Tariq’s birthday taking pride in the great work being done by TKF in his honor. TKF would not have existed if Tariq were alive. It only came to life from his death … like the rising of the Phoenix. Tariq’s mother Almas, Tariq’s sister Tasreen and my three grandchildren will meet for dinner on March 6 in order to celebrate his 20 years on the planet as well as his significant contribution to the work that was inspired by his tragic death.Over the 17 years, this forgiveness work has been in front of over a million students. Over 400 keynotes and forgiveness workshops have been delivered all over the world, with more work coming in the future as we take forgiveness work into the corporate world, teaching management teams how to create unity from conflict.

Where there are people there is conflict. Most leaders do not acknowledge conflict and many sweep it under the rug. However, my view is that conflict is an opportunity to create love and unity.

I learned that from my 17-year trusted relationship with Ples Felix whose grandson killed my son. Ples and I are still together and often travel together speaking to kids here is the US and also other parts of the world. He is an important person in my life, and we have become brothers. There is a bond between us that will be there for the rest of our lives.

Forgiveness lives in our souls. I now teach leaders in the corporate and the nonprofit environment to tap into the soul and become what I call “Soulular Leaders.” Einstein warned us “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve.”

Even though Einstein was right on, so many of us lead from the intellect. The entire educational system is designed to make us more intelligent. However in my journey I have learned that the soul is mightier than the brain and the heart. When you lead from the soul, you make decisions that are compassionate, caring and loving. You make decisions that are in the highest good for you, the person you are dealing with, and the universe. Soulular leaders also are able to take conflict and turn it into unity and love.

As we go to polls this election year it is important that we choose soulular leaders who demonstrate the ability to create unity from conflict and not ones who create more conflict.

Check and see your own leadership style. When Tariq was alive, I lead from the intellect. While I did have an established spiritual practice I did not bring spirit into my work. I now understand the limitation of this approach. Today I bring spirit into everything I do, and I have noticed that my decision-making has a more profound impact than when I solely relied on my intellect. There is nothing wrong with having a brilliant intellect. But intellect by itself is limited. When you combine the intellect with the soul, you become a soulular leader and make decisions that promote a better, more compassionate and kinder world.

I believe this is so very much needed in our society today. And the realization of having such leaders, leading a nation built on principle of unity, forgiveness and peace would definitely be something to celebrate.

Many Blessings,

Azim N. Khamisa

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Azim Khamisa

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