“If nothing ever changes, there wouldn’t be any butterflies” That quote caught my attention at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Butterflies have been long associated with transformation. The process of a caterpillar building a cocoon around itself, laying dormant for a while, then emerging into a gorgeous winged creature, is a symbol of amazing transformation – an emergence into something so wonderfully different than ever before. As humans, we too have been aspired, guided, and taught to break free of our cocoons and fly.
The process of transforming oneself into someone so amazingly different from who we have ever been is the cornerstone to all spiritual disciplines, mythology, and philosophy.
In October of 2000 I was visiting my sister and her husband in Saudi Arabia. They had decided to take us for a trip to Mecca and Medina. On a starry night on a long quite road, sitting in the backseat, I started contemplating my place in the universe. I questioned my roles, where I had been and where I was heading. I started to weep. I felt immense pressure in my chest, I sobbed, my limbs started to stiffen and curl, and I had an amazing emergence experience.
The stages of questioning my purpose, introspection, and finding my wings in Islam has been the greatest experience of transformation!
God says in the Qur’an: “Truly God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11). It is through Islam that I found the aspiration to improve, build, and grow into my best self. “In Islam, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to seek self improvement in regards to every aspect of their lives. As a result, one’s good character will impact others and therefore improve society as a whole. This dynamic change all begins at the individual level.”1 Unlike other spiritual disciplines, Islam promotes a life-style change rather than adding a set of rituals to our lives. It is a different way to think, feel, express, behave and be, that leads one to transformation and the emergence of their highest self.
For most of us, the “transformation circuits lay dormant unless we activate them.”2
The prefrontal cortex, the newly found part of the executive brain that is often referred to as the higher brain, is sparked by novelty, adventure, and possibilities. This is the part of the brain that is excited by transformation. “This part of our brain envisions the possibilities of what if, how can I become better, how we can create a better world that unleashes the potential of all human beings.”3 According to Dr. Judith Wright, “The frontal lobe is the seat of our intention, of our will… But it too requires a trigger to release its power.”4 This trigger is our dedication, our willingness to commit to spark our brains, purify our hearts, follow our yearnings, and dedicate to a lifetime of learning, growing, and transforming.
The Call to Personal Transformation and Emergence
As I dedicate myself to become the best that I can become, the best being God designed me to become, I feel a surge of positive energy within me. I am understanding, improving, and transforming myself and those I lead and coach around me. In every interaction, with family, friends, clients and strangers, I strive to spark my frontal lobe, purify my heart, and form a connection within the two that enlightens me and those I influence.
1. Esseghir, Amira. “Importance of Self Improvement in Islam.” Why Islam. Accessed May 9, 2015. http://www.whyislam.org/on-faith/the-secret-to-a-tranquil-soul/
2. Wright, Judith. “Dr. Judith Wright, Transformational Leadership Award Gala Speech.” Delivered at Transformational Leadership Symposium, April 2012. http://www.wrightliving.com/video/judith_friday.mov
4. Wright, Judith, and Robert J. Wright. Transformed!: The Science of Spectacular Living. Nashville, Tenn: Turner Pub. Co, 2013.
Aalia Siddiqui is a first-year Master’s student with the Wright Graduate University. She is studying transformational leadership and coaching. This quarter, she and her classmates are focused on questions such as “What does it take to live a great life?” and “What is my life purpose?” and “What relationship do you see between purposeful living and leadership?”