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As we say goodbye . . .

The days of Ramadan have been long and the nights much too short. We started with some trepidation about how we would manage with the heat and the thirst. Alhamdulliah, with Allah's grace and strength, the month has flown by much too fast.

As we approach the final few days of the Blessed Month, we may be feeling a mix of emotions: a tinge of sadness at the ending of the month of Blessings, Mercy and Forgiveness, a feeling of accomplishment at what we have managed to do or perhaps a feeling that we did not do as much as we would have liked. We may be looking forward to getting back to our normal routine and to our morning cup of tea.

Regardless of this array of emotions towards the ending of this month, many of us felt an increasing level of spirituality and we may be wondering of how to make the awesome feeling of closeness to Him and spirituality stay with us a little longer.

For many of us, this is the only time in the year when we change the focus of our attention from worldly...

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Settle your disputes

In Sura Anfal (8:1) the Quran says: So be God-conscious and settle your disputes.

This verse which was revealed after the battle of Badr when Muslims had differences between themselves regarding the splitting of war booty, refers to a key principle of a harmonious social life.

In any relationship, personal, work related or social, it is normal to have differences and conflict. Such differences exist in the healthiest of relationships. What sets good relationships apart from the unhealthy ones, is not the presence of difference or conflcit, but how it is handled. Differences create issues in relationships when they turn into disputes, that is when narrow-minded self interest and ego turns differences into oppurutnities for a win-lose battle.

 

This verse reminds us that there will be differences and conflict in our relationships and that we need to move beyond them. The verse also relates God consciousness to settling of disputes, reminding us that when we are in conflict,...

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Resist the temptation to mock others

In Sura Hujarat (49:11), it says: O believers, let no group make fun of another, for they may be better than them.

Reflection: Mocking means to say something which degrades someone and puts them down. It could be a verbal "joke", a rolling of the eyes, an imitation of gait, word or accent or something even more subtle than that. The aim of mocking is to ridicule the other and make others laugh at the person.

This is often done in the guise of humour and the person who is mocking may lead others to believe that they are humourless or boring if they don't 'get the joke'. When called out on what they are doing, those who are mocking may tell others to "chill out" or "don't take it so seriously".

Yet, if the language of mockery removes the property of humour, the statements show up as merely nasty. Humour appears to give a gloss of moral invisibility to statements "made in jest"—but perhaps we should be more hesitant and reflective about what we're participating in and doing. And...

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Be a good neighbour

Sura Nisa verse 4:36: And do good to parents, the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the near neighbour and the distant neighbour.

Reflection: Islam is all about honouring our vertical relationship with Him and our horizontal relationships with others. One of the categories of people whose rights we need to be mindful of are neighbours.

Islam considers forty homes around ours, in all four directions, as being neighbours and the verse specifies that we need to do good to both the near and the distant neighbours.

In other words, doing good should extend to the whole neighbourhood or community in which we live.

Why? Such a simple commandment that can greatly improve the quality of our lives and society as a whole. When we live in neighbourhoods that are strongly connected and secure, our daily lives are enhanced and our children benefit.

How? What does being a good neighbour mean to you? Are you careful of not being a nusiance? Do you watch out for their property in their absense or...

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Seek counsel and consultation

Sura Shuraa verse 42:38. And their rule is to take counsel among themselves.

Reflection: This sentence in verse 38 is part of a passage that describes the people for whom the Hereafter will be so much better than the world. One of their qualities is that they seek counsel from one another.

Islam recommends that believers seek advice from each other, and discuss things to get the opinions of others.

Why: When we are in the midst of a situation or a problem, it is often challenging to see the big picture or reflect on how our behaviour is playing out in the situation. Our own self interest and ego often results in tunnel vision, which leads to actions not in our ultimate best interest.

Seeking counsel and consultation from a spouse, a good friend, a trusted colleague or a trained professional at such a time can be hugely beneficial. (There is a reason that the most successful CEOs and leaders all have personal coaches and consultants . . .)

This sounds like a modern idea, doesn't it?...

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How to use and ask the Questions

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring the wisdom in The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

The book really helps the reader recognize how we can be "advice giving maniacs" and how we often don't even know what the problem is, but we've got some thoughts about how to go around fixing it. (it is SO easy isn't it – to give advice on how to fix problems we don't know much about!!)

I hope that you have been playing with the questions at work and at home and are beginning to explore the power of these simple questions to make us effective in our interactions and communications with others. Once we begin 'playing' with the questions (however imperfectly) and notice the power, we are likely to want to do more of it.

In the book, Stanier offers great suggestions on how to use the questions in what he calls "Question Asking Master classes" and on how to practice the questions so that they become a habit. If you are looking for what...

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The Learning Question

I love love love Stanier's learning question. The learning question is a great way to distill the wisdom from every interaction and leave people with real value for their time and yours.

The learning question allows us to gain insights from both successes and mistakes. It turns every conversation into a self growth moment.

The learning question is this: "What was most useful to you about this conversation?"

There is solid neuroscience embedded in the learning question. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning Brown, Roediger and Mc Daniel say that the most important thing about learning is to "interrupt the process of forgetting". They explain that forgetting starts happening immediately, so by asking this question at the end of a conversation, we create the first interruption it that slide towards "I've never heard that before".

Apart from helping us remember the major takeaways from an important conversation, the Learning Question does two other important things:

...

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The Strategic Question

In The Coaching Habit, Stanier distinguishes between great work (the work that you love to do, has meaning, is connected to your purpose and makes an impact) versus all other 'good work' (the work that you've got to get through, the everyday tasks, 'this is my job description' kind of work).

(For parents and family members, this also applies to us. Great work of relationship is connection, intimacy, support, influence, legacy – that kind of thing)

Stanier recommends asking the Strategic Question before accepting to do more busy, 'good' work that has little impact. The Strategic Question is this: If you are saying YES to this, what are you saying NO to?

This question is especially useful for those of us who have a very hard time saying no. (Remember the DailyWisdom on Pause Before You Promise?)

When we cannot say no, our schedules tend to get full of busy work and priorities which are not our own.

Stanier puts it very beautifully when he says: "A Yes is nothing without the No...

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The Lazy Question

This week we are continuing exploring leadership coaching questions from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier.
 
I don't know about you, but I sometimes get stressed when I am trying to help someone. I may begin to feel like I am trying harder to come up with solutions than they are. I find myself trying to figure out in my head what they need most at this time. It can be very tiring when we feel that we are working harder than the person whose problem it is.
 
Well, Stanier has a simple solution to this kind of overwhelm. He calls it the Lazy Question: "How can I help"?
 
What is so brilliant about the lazy question is that it forces the one with the problem or issue to make a direct and clear request. It helps the person who is asking for support to get clear on exactly what they are asking.
 
Secondly, it stops us from thinking that we already know how best to help the other and stops us "from leaping into action" and trying to rescue someone when they are...

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The Foundation Question

The Foundation Question is: "What do you want?"

In The Coaching Habit, M.B. Stanier says that he sometimes calls The Foundation Question the "Goldfish Question" because it often elicits that response: slightly bugged eyes, and a mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out.

This simple question is often difficult for many people to answer. Firstly, because it is easier to articulate what we DON'T want rather than focus on what we DO want. Secondly, because even if we are able to figure out what we really want, it is less than easy to ask for it.

So when you ask this question, be prepared for the goldfish response. And then ask it again: "What do you want"? To be even more effective, you can follow up the response with: "What do you really want"?

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