The Passionpreneur – an Interview with Moustafa Hamwi

If you want to become an achiever, there are two things; first, you have to find your passion and second you need to be passionate about it.

Moustafa Hamwi

Achievers – A Thousand Ways to Success and Fulfillment
The passion guy – an Interview with Moustafa Hamwi

Marcel Kuhn: Who are you and what do you do?
Moustafa Hamwi: I’m a Syrian by birth and grew up in different countries of the Middle East and moved to Dubai in September 2000. I am an adventure yogi. I do adrenaline sports like skydiving, paragliding, motor racing. Equally, I practice mindfulness by doing yoga and meditation. Life is about balancing the yin and yang energies. Sometimes I need to disperse high-energy with adrenaline-sports, other times I need quiet times to reflect. I follow this approach in everything I do in Life.
I have been a philosopher since my teenage years. I’m interested in the deeper layer of what makes humanity and the universe tick. I put a lot of thought into what is our purpose in life. That is an unusual topic for someone of my age, especially in my region.

Marcel Kuhn: How do you define success?
Moustafa Hamwi:To me, success is finding the balance between yin and yang, and doing something truly meaningful to make the world a better place. If you are not able to fulfill your own needs, you won’t be capable of inspiring others. You cannot give what you don’t have. Focusing merely on yourself and on getting rich is an empty success. In Arabic, we have a saying “A heaven without people is not worth stepping into.”

Marcel Kuhn: How do you define fulfillment?
Moustafa Hamwi: Fulfillment is when you honor your inner calling. In my passion workshops, I’m teaching that seeking happiness is an illusion, finding fulfillment is the real meaning of your life.
If you pursue something that doesn’t mean anything, no matter how much money you make, you will never be fulfilled. The feeling of fulfillment is proportional to how much you honor your inner calling. The more you honor it, the more fulfilled you will be.
That’s the simplest way you can look at it. In the song ‘isn’t it ironic’, Alanis Morrisette sings the line “…a thousand spoons and all you need is a knife” which is, in essence, receiving too much of the wrong things doesn’t guarantee fulfillment

Marcel Kuhn: What is the most important lesson that your parents taught you about passion as a kid?
Moustafa Hamwi: Life brought me to the topic of passion. I’m from the Middle East, where the typical roadmap for me would have been; to study, to graduate, to work with my dad, to get married, to have kids and to stay in the same region all my life. My father planned the whole life for me and even bought a house. The dream of the parents overwrites the dream of their kids. The strong family bonds and values make us a high culture. The disadvantage is that you don’t get a lot of individuality.
My parents did what they thought was best for me, according to their best knowledge and abilities. That did not correlate with what I am passionate about. The lesson learned for me is to allow my children to discover who they are. I didn’t get that chance, they should have been more accepting of my journey.
3.2 What is the connection between passion and leading a successful and fulfilled life?
If you want to achieve a level of mastery at anything, you need passion. If you are satisfied with mediocracy, that is a personal choice. I love passion and I love life that is worth dying for.

If you do not have passion then you will lack stamina and energy. When you have a big, deep passion for what you are doing, then you will move forward no matter what. Every time you are knocked out, you get back up.

My journey is exhausting and no matter how tough it is, I will go back at it. This is the deep love for what I am doing which makes me succeed faster than everybody else in the industry. While others are getting tired, I continue my journey. The last man standing is the most passionate person in the world. Think of it as a boxing match, it is not about who is giving the knock-out punch, but more about who is getting up after being knocked. Getting up one more time takes a lot of passion. That is really where the competitive advantage element comes in.

Imagine kids that are playing and kids that are doing homework, the kids that are playing don’t want to stop. They are enjoying it and they are passionate about playing. Naturally, their energy is at a high level and they are in a creative space. While someone who is doing homework is struggling and he needs to be pushed and motivated. Let’s take banking for example. If you are doing it because you love it, and another person is just doing it because it is their job, the person that loves it will always be more successful.

Doing what you are passionate about, makes it fun, increases your energy level, improves your stamina and expands your creativity.

Marcel Kuhn: What is your vision or your dream for the next five to ten years?
Moustafa Hamwi: My dream is to inspire 7’777’777 million people to live a passionate life. On the journey I want to travel to 136 countries, deliver talks & workshops, and sponsor one orphan in each country. In my passion statement, I outline my vision in detail, .
I don’t want to go on this journey on my own, I want to do this with a woman that I love. My fiancé is like that. Along the way when the kids come, I want them to be part of that journey and travel the world as a global family. I want my children learning the value of pursuing their passion and help the world. Travel for me is also about adventure and exploring different cultures.

Marcel Kuhn: How did you come up with 136 countries?

Moustafa Hamwi: I am a fan of numerology and 136.1 is the frequency of OMG. The number 7 is a heavenly number. If taught 7.7 million people the universe might help me to reach 10 million people.

Marcel Kuhn: What are your core beliefs and your core values?

Moustafa Hamwi: My core belief is that the start of life is a fleeting experience, between the mother’s womb and the cosmic womb. The death is a gateway to the next life. While we are here, we need to balance yin and yang energies.

My belief of passion is a balance between giving and getting. Your body and mind is the vehicle to serve your purpose, you have to take care of it.

If I’m in pain I cannot spend hours and hours on stage and record podcasts. If I’m in pain I’m losing my passion. Being blessed and acknowledging the blessing that I have is part of the journey. All we are sharing is the moment.

In reality, everything is transitory. It is the impact that we leave that lives beyond the moment – otherwise, everything else will be gone.

Marcel Kuhn: What are your core values?
Moustafa Hamwi: Continuously learning & growth and sharing the knowledge
Well-being and health
Adventure and travel
Marcel Kuhn What were your key moments, main challenges and key decisions in life?
Moustafa Hamwi: The biggest decision of my life was literately waking up one day and buying a one-way ticket to India. I didn’t have a clear outcome in mind. I ended up meeting a Swami who had been living in a cave for 13 years. I stayed in India for less than a year, it was not about the length of the trip, the intensity made all the difference. This also made me realize that I need to know more about who I am and what I care about in life. It forced me to learn about personal growth and development. It is funny that the journey of helping others you can only begin by helping yourself first. I had to learn things that help me before transferring the knowledge to help others. I have gone on the real version of the journey of the ‘Monk who sold his Ferrari` and ‘The Alchemist’. I only read those books after my return from the trip to India.

I endured many extreme meditations and practices; crying meditation; laughter meditation, silent meditation, water fasting for ten days. These were tough times mentally, physically and emotionally. It was a rollercoaster with ups, downs, and loopings.

The big test to enlightenment is whether you can you take back what you have nurtured in the cave, and bring it back to real life.
That critical decision became the benchmark of my life and taught me about everything else. Every time I’m confused about my direction and the next steps, I commit to a one-way ticket. The one-way-ticket became a symbol. Being a leader is about walking the talk and sometimes walking the talk is very tough.
The only way you can burn your bridges for your own benefit is when you are stuck and you don’t have any other way but to go through. You have to succeed, failure is no longer on the menu.

Deciding to go full time into the work that I’m doing now, was a one-way-ticket. I was doing it on the side when I was coming back from India. After a couple of incidents where people told me “You changed my life!” I realized that I’m doing what I wanted to do in Life. I asked myself “Why am I procrastinating?” Then I took the decision to go full-time into it.

Buying that one-way ticket forced me to go full in. I started in 2014. All of 2014 and 2015 I was still trying to figure things out and in 2016 it made a click and I felt in the right place. Imagine that it was a couple of years of trial and error and six months of doing it right. I am already on the phone with you talking about the topic. You found me, it means that I am doing something right. That only happened because I bought a one-way ticket when I came back to pursue this passion – being the passion person.
I am in it to make it work. That is the pivotal moment of my life. It changed who I am as a person. Before that, I would always find ways out. Things would work but there would always be an exit.

Marcel Kuhn: How did you overcome your biggest challenges?
Moustafa Hamwi: I’m taking my nervous breakdown I had in 2007. I woke up one day and saw that my life was going down the drain. I decided that I had to do something to take control of it. I spent time reading, studying and reaching out to everything that could help me. I studied inspiring people and asked myself what is common between them? I put the top ten people I aspire to and find the common thing that they all talk about. I remember putting it all on a table Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Napoleon Hill, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammed Ali, and a couple more. I did an online research, the purpose was to find inspiration. I realized that they all had two common things: never quit and have the passion for what you do.

All of this research translated to the word passion. When I thought about what keeps you going and not quitting, that is going to passion. This how I overcome my challenge and at the same time ended up giving birth to the passion work.

Marcel Kuhn: What are your references – people in your career of personal life that inspired you?
Moustafa Hamwi: We have a saying in Arabic that “Wisdom is the lost arc of the seeker. Wherever he finds it, he will grab it” So for somebody who is seeking inspiration and passion, I am a scavenger. I am looking for passion in every single moment to keep me high on energy. I’m powered by passion.

Any interesting story that brings tears to my eyes and makes me feel humbled, from a taxi driver all the way to the successful leaders of the world who are doing phenomenal work. I wouldn’t like to refer to a particular individual because I always see the yin and yang in everybody. I see what is inspiring about a person and I am sure that there is also another story to the individual. If you look at Steve Jobs phenomenal inspiring figure, at the other hand his family structure was not truly inspiring at all. So it came at an expense, he neglected his family. From being neglected from his father, he ignored his own daughter.

I’m inspired by Nelson Mandela, what an inspiring human being that goes through so many years of being locked in a cell and still finds the passion within to walk out to continue his journey. Everybody else would be broken. I don’t know much more about Nelson Mandela, but that single element inspires me. I’m inspired by the persistence of Gandhi, but a lot of areas in his life, I learned while I was in India, are not inspiring to all Indians. Many people in India don’t think of him as inspiring as we think. That thing said I’m very inspired by his persistence and his approach.

So you see, everybody has a piece of inspiration that I can pick up, I can create my own picture of what inspiration in its omnipresence is.

This is for me the ultimate definition of passion. You are pursuing your passion regardless of where you are in life. If you see that something is missing and you go ahead and continue it on top of everything of what you are doing, I find that is very inspiring.

Marcel Kuhn: What is your super power?
Moustafa Hamwi: I am extremely passionate. Makes my life easy. You have Spiderman – he is Spiderman, I am passion guy. It was the Tony Buzan nick-named me the passion guy, a journalist has nick-named me the passionpreneur. I didn’t choose those names personally.

Marcel Kuhn: What super power would you like to have?

Moustafa Hamwi: I would like to have more of what I have. I believe it is the silver bullet. I have the conviction that all I need Is more of what I have. That gives me everything else. My passion gives me persistence.. My passion makes me enjoy my journey more. My passion makes me a better partner, lover, husband, son, brother. When I am passionate about anyone that I am dealing with, I do my best for them. If I am passionate about my work, I am more prone to success. And best of all, I am enjoying the journey. Anything else is a by-product of my passion. I know I will make money when I am passionate, I know I will be successful. Instead of asking for a million things, I just want that stuff.

Marcel Kuhn: What are the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis?
Moustafa Hamwi: I ask myself the question “what am I doing here?” on a daily basis. That might sound negative, depending on how you write it. The answer to this question is what keeps me going. This resonates with my values of learning and sharing, speaking, traveling – then I keep doing it. If I have the feeling that I am wasting time, then I am out of here.

Marcel Kuhn: What are daily routines, practices, and tools?
Moustafa Hamwi: My morning starts the minutes I open my eyes, reminding myself of my beliefs. I start by saying that I am the most passionate person on this planet. I don’t like the word affirmation – the Secret has messed up people. It is a reminder of a conviction that I have – more than anything.
The status of how I am waking up is irrelevant, it is the status that I am choosing that matters. If I ask myself what am I doing here, the answer is “I’m here to inspire the world” I feel the responsibility to hold that space for everybody.

Then I go to the gym and do 20 minutes of cardio while listening to audio books, or I go straight into a cold shower and sing “there is no business like show business” which I learned from my interview with Marshall Goldsmith. It reminds me that I am in the show business and that I have to make things happen.

Then I do my prayers, my meditation and I prepare my breakfast.
I sometimes hang upside down with an inversion table.

80% of the time my breakfast is oatmeal porridge with nuts, honey, and some Chia seeds. This ritual hasn’t changed since coming back from India.

After that, I map out the two to three top things that I have to do on that day.
Now I’m on a journey where there is no textbook. There are days when I don’t know what I need to be doing on that day. Sometimes my task is to figure out what the next steps are. It’s an adventure. It is important to me to have the structured morning rituals to stay grounded. Once I do this morning rituals, I’m in the right place. The meditation and prayers add up to about 30 minutes which are mostly non-negotiable part of my ritual. I can skip the cardio or yoga because I can do it anytime during the day, but not my meditation and prayer.

Evening ritual
In the evening I mostly do yoga. I try my best to go to the 8 p.m. yoga class . The 8p.m. Yoga class allows me to unwind. I do Hatha-Yoga, all the other styles are acrobatics – real yoga is Hatha yoga.
By the time I finish it is about 10 p.m. and I’m already in the zone. I go home and take a shower. After that I spend a lot of time with my fiancée talking and hanging out, sharing what is going on

Daily questions tool by Marshall Goldsmith
At 11 a.m. every day I get a call from a virtual personal assistant to run me through ten questions that measure the quality of the day. I have given them the script with the questions and an excel sheet, I don’t care who calls me. They give me straight questions and I give a numerical answer from 1-10. I have modified the questions from Marshall Goldsmith to suit me. The PA immediately gives me an average of my daily score. They will immediately tell me the actual score of that day. I’m asking myself what I can do to improve the score. At the end of the week, they send me one report. I just quickly look at the lowest and the highest scores. On the next week, all I work on is on my lowest score, to make sure to bring it up.
Some of the questions are like that

∙ Did I do my best to set clear goals?
∙ Did I do my best to make progress towards goal achievement?
∙ Did I do my best to be present and engaged?
∙ Did I do my best to discipline my responses?
∙ Did I do my best to be smiling?
∙ Did I do my best to treat staff well?
∙ Did I do my best to find meaning?

I basically took Marshall Goldsmith’s system and chose the question that made sense for me and added things what was more important to me.
If Marshall Goldsmith who is the inventor of this technique and world’s leading coach gets someone to call him, It means that he has figured out that it is easier that way.

Marcel Kuhn: What is the emotional state you are in most of the time?
Moustafa Hamwi: The majority of the time it is passionate. Remember passionate doesn’t always mean happy. I’m at a level of passion that lots of people are not sharing that. Sometimes that frustrates me. I’m definitively passionate most of the time, but not always happy.

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