The 7 Gates of Phi is a journey of self-discovery and progressive transformation. Anyone with the conviction and desire to change can apply the principles in this book to help them bring out their best potential. Each gate represents an important milestone in the reader’s journey. Starting with basic self-awareness concepts and moving through each gate until the final module prepares the reader to enter the phase of ‘Change’ – where they face the challenge of self-mastery. The gates are further divided into sub-modules that represent the key skills required to ‘open’ that specific gate. You don’t have to read the book in order – but I highly recommend that you do. I am still on my journey, still have many questions, and still seek many new experiences. This book is a synthesis of information that has helped me on my journey—a set of skills that continues to assist me to realize my true potential. The 1st Gate awaits you.
Knowing Yourself: Your Vocation & Purpose “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfilment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” Viktor E. Frankl Personal Portraits A few months before my 16th birthday, I found myself thrust into the world of college. I really had no clue what to do with my life or what to study. In the first year alone I changed my area of specialization from engineering to computer science to economics. Sitting wide-eyed and awed in my calculus class, trying to make sense of difficult concepts like integration and differentiation, I felt that I might have made the wrong choice. Perhaps I would find my calling in the liberal arts. I dabbled in the fields of philosophy, sociology, and psychology. I have to admit that I discovered many interesting concepts in the field of psychology. I decided to enrol in various psychology courses to learn more. I still feel very passionate about the study of the human mind. However, I had yet to find something that really inspired and motivated me. I recall returning home one day to find my older brother and his friend camped out at the dining room table. They were trying to come up with ideas for a marketing campaign for a new product. As I stood there in the corner of the room and listened to the flurry of ideas about television commercials, radio jingles, brand strategies, storyboards and communication design, I had a eureka moment. I remember asking my brother if this was some side project that he was working on. He explained that it was an assignment for a mass communication course. It was at that moment that I realized I had found my true calling. The next morning I marched into the mass communication department and changed my major for the last time. The Man in the Tree Driving down the wrong road and knowing it, The fork years behind, how many have thought, To pull up on the shoulder and leave the car, Empty, strike out across the fields; and how many Are still amazed among dock and thistle, Seeking the road they should have taken? Damon Knight, 1984 The Background Really knowing yourself is the mother of all knowledge. Consider the following questions: What drives you? What are you passionate about? Why are you here? Where are you doing with your life? Are you contributing to your personal growth? Are you contributing to other people’s happiness? What is it that drives you to work? Is it money, fame or power or purpose? If you don’t regularly ask yourself those questions, you can never realize your true potential. However, the only thing worse than not knowing yourself is believing that you know it all – as the old saying goes ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.” In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t (1), management guru James C. Collins uses a simple parable to explain what he calls the ‘hedgehog concept’. It is fairly simple, but contains powerful truths that can be used to discover just who you are and what your purpose may be. “Every outward journey; begins with a journey within.” Anonymous (1) Collins, James C. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. New York, New York: HarperCollins. Here is the story: One day, a hedgehog and a fox meet in the forest. The fox is a cunning, shrewd, and intelligent creature that believes in his ability to do anything he puts his mind to - anything at all. The hedgehog, by contrast, is a humble creature that is not very good at many things, except for one – rolling into a ball to protect himself. Suddenly, from a nearby thicket came a ferocious beast, hungry and intent on finding dinner. The fox reacted by panicking and running through his considerable list of tricks to escape the beast, going from one to the other. But, in his panic and haste, he could not manage to get away from the beast, and unfortunately was eaten. The beast did not want to have anything to do with the hedgehog, though, who, at the first sign of danger, curled himself into a ball for protection, his sharp spines poking outwards. The beast soon left and the hedgehog was left alone – alive. The moral of this story? It’s better to do one thing extremely well than to be mediocre at many things and not do them nearly as well. Remember the hedgehog as we go through this discussion. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve Definitions Purpose: A reason, motivation, or underlying cause of an action; a sense of who one is and his/her ambitions, desires, and skills. Vocation: A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified. The Process “When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” Seneca When you think about yourself, what comes to mind? What purpose do you think you have? If you say, “Well, I’m not sure I have one”, you will be pleased to know that everyone has a purpose. You just have not found yours yet, and that’s okay. That comes with personal development and the growth process. Everyone has a purpose, some reason why he or she is here. We will talk more about purpose and why it matters later. But first, we will talk about something that can be just as important: your vocation. You are what you do Your work or your job is your self-portrait. You must paint it with excellence. If you are not happy in your job, ask yourself why you are still in it? Quite simply, you are what you do! Vocation is not necessarily just a job, by the way; it is what you dedicate your life to doing, similar to a purpose. For many self-aware people, their vocation happens to be their job. But some work at a particular place of employment for money but view themselves, for example, as artists even though they do not make a living off of their artwork. Either way, you are what you do. We define ourselves so much by the effort and labour we put forth, so our vocation does tend to determine how we feel about ourselves. “A warrior…feeds his body well; he trains it; works on it. Where he lacks knowledge, he studies. But above all he must believe. He must believe in his strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul.” David Gemmel Your Vocation and Your Happiness Your happiness is a complex concept that depends on a variety of factors. But as mentioned above, most people derive their happiness about or discontentment with life largely due to their job. In fact, a recent survey conducted in the United States found that the majority of workers – 55% - were dissatisfied with their jobs, and this dissatisfaction was causing significant unhappiness in their lives. Here is why this is so important. You spend so much time at your job or vocation that it has a significant impact on your self-esteem and self-image. If you want to be happy, you have to find a way to be happy with what you do. And that is why vocation matters. "You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need." Jerry Gillies Why Purpose Matters “Okay,” you say, “vocation matters. But what about purpose?” Purpose matters as well – in fact, having a strong sense of purpose in your life may be the one key factor that determines whether or not you are truly happy. You can be successful in life without a clear purpose, but does this mean you will be happy, or even content? No. There are plenty of successful individuals in the world who are not content with life because they have not yet found their true purpose – their calling – in life.
“I will compile, summarize, and disseminate knowledge and draw upon my own life experiences to aid people to reach their greatest potential.” (Sharif Maghraby on the 7 Gates of Phi) I was born in Egypt in the early seventies. I have had a very rich and rewarding life so far (il hamd Lil Laah). I love to learn and share what I have learned with others. Music, poetry and creative writing are all strong and enduring passions of mine. I have succeeded in transforing myself several times in the past and continue to aspire to evolve into the best version of myself. I strongly believe that with conviction and commitment to positive results - we can all change ourselves to the better. And once we start with ourselves, we will live to witness global positive change. (In sha Allah)