The British economist John Stuart Millsaid that a person becoming successful depends on whether he or she has thought about the basic questions of life at about age 23.
There may not be much statistical evidence behind the assertion, but such issues, including the question "Who am I?" are central to Zen.
The meditative practice, which has its roots in religion but is often viewed as more of a philosophy, has much to say about the great existential questions, and just about everything else.
"There is a man in my accounting office I will call M," wrote Takeshi Iizuka in his bookZen: in Business & Life. "Whenever I think about him, I cannot help sighing to myself."
M, according to Mr Iizuka, has never plumbed the depths of his mind to ask himself who he truly is, the nature of his true self, Zen's greatest concern.
"He is a terrible egoist, almost to a clinical degree," he wrote.
Mr Iizuka's colleague suffers from an affliction that causes employees to fail.
"There are four reasons behind people's failure in a company situation. First, they are thoroughly self-centred," he wrote.
Such employees, like Mr Iizuka's colleague M, do not push themselves if doing so does not profit them directly.
The second type of employee is miserly, such as the type of boss who would rather save money than "waste" it on someone else, Mr Iizuka wrote.
Lazy employees are the third type causing Mr Iizuka concern.
They strive to get through the day without taking on any extra responsibilities.
Arrogant employees who believe their way, and only their way, is the best are the final type of personality.
"The above four types do not, of course, represent all the varieties of worker, but they are to be found in every workplace, and they will all, without doubt, fail in their careers," wrote Mr Iizuka.
The problem of the ego, and how it should relate to the company for which one works, is a central concern of Zen.
"I think there are two forms of modus vivendi: living according to a series of compromises, with constant adjustment between the desires of the individual and those of the company, or destroying the idea of the self so completely that the desires of the company become the desires of the self," wrote Mr Iizuka.
The latter option may seem a little extreme to some, but it promises more opportunities for advancement, according to Mr Iizuka.
Why does it all matter anyway?
"Imagine if you were in charge of sales," wrote Mr Iizuka. "Would your customers notice that you were filled with a desire to post a good sales record? You would make little progress if they then decided you were only approaching them as part of your sales strategy."
Customers will instantly notice if all you want to do is achieve good sales results. Salespeople should instead direct their attention to where the true benefit lies for the customer, according to Mr Iizuka.
It is an approach that is now being used by the mainstream, including by some companies here in the UAE.
Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) introduced a sales method by which it strives to find out what the customer needs rather than simply pushing products and solutions in its catalogue.
"It's a kind of an eye-opening approach to the traditional methodology," says Maggie Williams, a specialist in management and leadership development at Enoc.
But this method brings trust and integrity to the sales technique, which ultimately benefits the business and the customer.
"You may not sell this time, but that person is going to be very open to talking to you next time," she says.
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