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Responsible leadership (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

It is sooo much easier to preach rather than practice, isn't it?

It is so easy to see how others need to change their ways and so much more challenging to see our own shortcomings.

This is especially challenging for people in positions of power and authority because they are not subject to much feedback from peers or superiors.

This is why it is especially important for those of us in positions of influence or leadership to engage in self reflection and self growth.

Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before educating others. Before preaching to others he should first practice himself. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals is superior to the man who tries to teach and train others.
Imam Ali (as)

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Recognize the power within you (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Today's quote has so many layers of meaning . . .

Your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it. Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it. You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe. You are indeed the Evident Book, by whose alphabet the Hidden becomes Manifest. Therefore you have no need to look beyond yourself. What you seek is within you, if only you reflect.
Imam Ali (as)

This is so empowering, isn't it? Everything we seek is already here. The answers are within ourselves.

Let us get quiet and listen.

Please scroll down for some books on the spiritual wisdom of Imam Ali (as).

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The wisdom of the young and the mature (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

As we said yesterday, Imam Ali (as) cautioned that
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

One way to prevent being a know-it-all is to consult others. Reaching out for a different perspective is a sign of courage and maturity.

Imam Ali (as) was a great believer in seeking counsel.

He said:
Nothing helps quite like consultation

and

Nothing is correct if you avoid consultation

He also believed in consulting people of different generations. He said:

If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that, refer it to the judgment of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced.

Sharp minds plus the wisdom of experience – what a powerful combination!

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Keep learning - (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

A little knowledge, it is said, is a dangerous thing.

When we first start learning about something, the increase in our knowledge about that thing can sometimes lead us to believe that we know all there is to know.

Imam Ali (as) says:
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

On the contrary, the more we learn about something, the more aware we become about how little we know.

Here is how Imam Ali (as) puts it:
The man of knowledge is the one who recognizes that what is known is very little compared to what is not known, and as a result he considers himself ignorant, and accordingly he increases his efforts to know more by going out in search of knowledge.

Humility, he also said, is the product of knowledge.

In other words, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

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Knowing and doing (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

We love learning don't we?

I believe that we have an inherent attraction towards wisdom and acquiring knowledge of what makes sense, of what aligns with the deepest truths that human beings are hard-wired with.

Putting the knowledge into action, however, is sometimes a little more challenging.

Spiritual wisdom often differentiates between surface knowledge and true knowledge.

True knowledge is transformational. When you know better, you do better.

Here is how Imam Ali puts it:
Knowledge is accompanied by action, for whoever knows acts. Knowledge calls out for action: if it responds to the call then it remains . . . otherwise it moves away from it.

In other words, knowledge, if not acted upon, departs.

A great way to remember what we learn is to start acting upon it immediately. Taking baby steps . . .

So, how much of the Daily Wisdom have we acted upon??

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Take action now (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Have you noticed how many times we have fleeting thoughts of doing a good deed or showing kindness towards someone . . . and that while we are still pondering about it and trying to figure it out . . . the opportunity has passed?

Here is what Imam Ali (as) says about it:
Opportunity passes away like the cloud. Therefore, make use of good opportunities before they pass you by.

Research confirms that the more you procrastinate about doing something, the less likely you are to do it.

The inspiration to act, it seems, along with the opportunity, passes by like clouds.

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Pursue excellence (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

The worth of every man is in his pursuit of excellence.

Imam Ali believed that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.

Do not try to be quick in what you do, but try to do it well, for surely people will not ask you: "How long did it take you to finish what you were doing?" Surely they will ask you how well you did it.

Are we pursuing quantity over quality in our daily actions?

Whether it completing a project at work, laying the table for dinner or being emotionally available to our children, how can we take the time to do at least some things really well every day?

The satisfaction of a job well done far exceeds the relief at getting something checked off our 'to do' list.

Don't you think?

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Be pleasant company (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Live amongst people in a manner, such that they long for you while you live and cry when you die.

Wow.

All of us know people whose company we crave.

What makes them so special? What makes us long to be with them?

Presence, patience and pleasantness stand out for me. How about you?

Being pleasant company, is so much easier with acquaintances rather than family or close friends.

We can all fake it for a while. Put on our best face in public.

But this is not what Imam Ali is talking about.

Recognizing that those closest to us sometimes see the worst parts of our personality, Imam also said:

Do not let your family become the unhappiest of people because of you.

A little more challenging, no?

How can we live amongst those closest to us so that they long for our company? How can we be a blessing rather than a trial for our families?

Your thoughts?

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On acquiring wisdom

We will explore the wisdom of Imam Ali (as) in this series of Daily Wisdom.

This is how Reza Shah-Kazemi introduces Imam Ali in his fantastic book Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali:

"To speak of Ali – cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, fourth caliph of Islam and the first in line of Shi'i Imams - is to speak about the quintessential spirituality of the Islamic tradition. For in this seminal figure of nascent Islam, one finds an integral expression of the two fundamental sources of Islamic spirituality, the Quranic revelation and the inspired Sunna of the Prophet. By his Sunna, we do not mean simply the outward imitation of the Prophet's – a reductionism all too prevalent in our times – rather, we mean the spiritual substance of the prophetic perfection to which the Quran itself refers: "Verily, thou art of a tremendous nature (68:4)"

The Prophet Mohammad (saw) had advised his followers:
I am the city of knowledge and Ali...

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Louise Hay on Self Love (Quotes to live by)

How much of your self talk is about criticizing yourself and giving yourself a hard time?

Women in particular have been somehow conditioned to be way more mean to ourselves than we are to anyone else, don't you think?

This is what Louise Hay has to say about it:

Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

(New research on willpower actually confirms this – that self-criticism depletes the will to change while self-compassion encourages change and helps us live up to the best versions of ourselves – who would have thought!!)

She also said:

Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.

The more we love...

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