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Come out of the sidelines and into the arena (Quotes to live by)

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

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Human freedom (Quotes to live by)

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Viktor E. Frankl

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The journey towards wisdom

The journey to writing the "Daily Wisdom" emails started when I was a child.

An avid reader from nursery school, I would mark up my books with writing that I enjoyed and which inspired me. I started curating a collection of quotes while I was still in elementary school. These handwritten quotes still dwell in an old yellowing notebook titled "Quotable Quotes". It is quite interesting to reflect on my personal journey of emotional and spiritual maturity through the quotes that I have gathered over the years.

The words of wisdom that I still gather (now in Evernote!) from books and people, in poetry and prose, inspire me to live up to my full potential, to do the right thing and to see the bigger picture. They validate my life experiences, encourage me to try harder when I feel discouraged and provide a healing balm to the heart on days when sadness and negativity overcome joy and positivity.

As we celebrate the now over 200 editions of Daily Wisdom (can you believe it? small steps do...

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Be abusive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

We have been talking about "How (not) to ruin a perfectly good relationship" this past month. We have covered lots of ground about what builds and destroys relationships.

It is now time to talk about some more serious things that destroy a relationship. These are "the biggies" - the behaviours that you really should stay away from if you want to keep your relationship healthy. They are also those that are harder to recover from without intervention and support.

Please note that the posts this week are of a sensitive nature. Some may be difficult to read, especially if you or someone you know is going through this stuff. And yet, these are very things that we really do need to talk about if we want to strengthen our relationships and transform relationships within our community. I encourage you to read them even if you think that they do not apply to you. Please feel free to share (discretely) with anyone who might benefit.

So today's edition of How to ruin a perfectly good...

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Keep score (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Use your mind like a psychological bookkeeper and remember "the score" at all times. Remind yourself of the ways you give to the relationship and your partner doesn't.

Tell yourself things like:
A good marriage should be 50-50 (an untrue and dangerous myth, by the way. It is only distressed couples that focus on the 50-50 score keeping)

I'm always the one who takes out the trash.

Why am I always the one getting up with the baby in the middle of the night?

I'm always the one who says sorry and initiates affection. S/he never says sorry. It is so unfair.

Keep at it and your feelings about the relationship will quickly fester into a stew of resentment, ensuring that you stop being loving and start creating distance in the relationship.

Keeping score is a "me-centered" way of operating, by which you're elevating your role in the relationship to a place of superiority. And if you're "up," then your partner has only one place to land: down. Down in the swampy, stagnant pond of "not...

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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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The kickstart question

Stanier in The Coaching Habit writes that "Coaching for development is about turning the focus from the issue to the person dealing with the issue, the person who's managing the fire."
 
Such a useful concept! What this means is that as leaders our job is not to know how to solve all problems. It is not even realistic to be able to solve all problems, is it? The person who is asking the question often is closer to the situation and has more information about the issue than we do.

(As an example, think of your 6th grader who is dealing with a math problem. He has attended the class recently and heard the teacher's instructions. Who knows more about the situation – him or you who has not attended a math class in several decades?)

So our job as a leader may be simply to help people uncover the answer that they already have within themselves.

This process is so much simpler than trying to solve or pretend to know the solution to every problem that others are having. So when you...

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The seven questions

So here are the seven questions that we have been exploring over the last few days. Regularly engaging in these reflections can be extremely beneficial in our spiritual and emotional growth.

Remember that asking the question and letting it simmer is more important than quick answers.

Repeat each question several times and use a journal to reflect on the answers.

1. What's your iki gai?
2. What are your core values?
3. Who matters most?
4. Where does my time go?
5. Which of my relationships are incomplete?
6. How do I keep my relationships complete?
7. What do I really really want?

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Using questions for self reflection

One of the most effective paths towards self growth and spiritual maturity is a consistent practice of self reflection.

Self reflection involves asking meaningful questions of ourselves and allowing the answers to emerge in their own time. It is not about easy answers or quick solutions.

In fact, when you are asking important questions, resist the temptation to accept the first answer that presents itself.

It is often more effective to let the questions "simmer" for a while. Asking the question is far more important than answering it quickly.

This can be quite challenging for some of us who NEED answers right NOW.
When we notice ourselves becoming impatient and wanting answers, it is helpful to ask the same question at least a few more times. "And what else" is a helpful prompt when you are working through a particular question.

You may find that it takes a little time for the conscious mind to settle and the answers that bubble up after a few times of asking the same question are...

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Ask good questions

Sometimes we think that in order to become wiser, we need to have the right answers. But right answers to wrong questions are not very useful, are they?

"The key to wisdom", as John Simone said, "is knowing all the right questions."

Questions are powerful tools. They can point to possibilities, encourage self reflection and growth, ignite hope and lead to new insights. They can also confuse issues, destroy hope and keep us stuck in bad assumptions.

Imagine that you are looking at a new project – either work related or personal goals related.

Consider the difference between these questions relating to the project or goal:

Question 1: Can I?
Question 2: How can I?

"At first glance, the questions Can I? and How can I? may appear to be very similar", writes John Maxwell in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential. "The reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. Can I? is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a...

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