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Step up to leadership (DW#400)

Here is today's edition of wisdom from the Quran:

He said, ‘Put me in charge of the store houses of the land, I am indeed reliable, well-informed.’ (Sūrat Yūsuf 12:55, Holy Quran)
This verse from Sura Yusuf is Prophet Yusuf (as)’s reply to the Egyptian king when he appoints him to work for the government.
 
Prophet Yusuf (as) immediately suggests a specific position for himself and relates the qualities which make him ideal for this position.
 
We are sometimes confused about what it means to be humble – this verse shows us that humility is not at odds with putting yourself forward for a good cause when you have the qualifications and the capability of doing it well and when it is for a good cause.
 
In the days of self promotion and social media, this verse gives us solid advice on how and when to promote oneself:
 
Knowledge: he is well-informed. He has done his homework about the situation. It is not a case of feeling entitled to a...
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Divided you fall (DW#398)

And do not quarrel for then you will lose heart and your power will depart.
(Sūratul Anfāl, No.8, Āyat 46)

When we are part of a team, whether it is a couple, a family, a committee or a team at work, there are bound to be differences in thought and style amongst the team members. Teams that remain strong find ways to appreciate the differences and diversity of thought and approach. They remain focused on the goal rather than get distracted by petty differences.

If on the other hand, for a team that allows differences to turn into quarrels, two things are likely to happen:

  1. The energy is diverted from the task at hand. Instead of working together to achieve their goals, each person or quarrelling segment begins to work on its own, sometimes in opposition to the other team members. The result is a weakening of the morale of the entire team. 

  2. This results in a huge loss of effectiveness of the entire team. A weakening of power. The Quran uses the word ‘rīh’ to...
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Growth does not happen by accident (DW#386)

We have been comparing fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets and hopefully we are beginning to see the value of cultivating a growth mindset for ourselves.

Many of us may already have a growth mindset in some areas of our lives and yet be stuck in a fixed mindset in others.

For example, I could be very successful in my career and be updating my skill set through continuous professional development and yet believe that I am just unlucky at relationships, or health, or …. Do you get the picture? Just because we have a growth mindset in one area of our lives does not automatically mean that we have the same set of beliefs in others.

John Maxwell in his book The 15 invaluable Laws of Growthreiterates what we have been saying over and over again: that all change and growth begins with awareness and intention. To put it another way, positive change and growth does not happen by accident. If we were to ignore an area of our lives, it is more likely that it would devolve rather...

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Personal growth begins in the mind (DW#374)

What do you believe about your ability to grow and progress in your life?

Do you believe that you can and must grow in every area of your life? Or do you believe that you are born with a certain set of talents and abilities that are fixed? 

Do you think or say things like "I am too old to change" or "That’s just the way I am" or "Some people are just born that way" or "I could never do that"? 

Do you believe that the reason that some people are smarter or more successful than you is because they have "what it takes" in their area of success and you don’t?


Science is telling us that the way we think about our ability to grow (or not) has a major impact on all areas of our lives. 

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is one of the leading researchers in the field of motivation and is a renowned Professor at Stanford University. In her recent and highly acclaimed book, Mindset, she employs rigorous science to help us understand why we do what we do. 

She explains...

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Start, then finish (DW#320)

While some of us have a hard time starting things, there are others of us who are "chronic starters". We are high achievers, we aim high and we always have a ton of projects on the go.

Finishing those projects, or completing those goals, however, is another story (again, don’t ask how I know this . . . ). Perfectionism greets us along the way and uses every tactic under the sun to block us from getting to the finish line.

I just finished reading a great book by Jon Acuff: Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. It is full of practical ideas on beating perfectionism and completing projects. And it is SUPER FUNNY (was laughing out aloud throughout J )

Here are the three things that I am working on, inspired by this book, to get to the finish line:

Cut your goals in half
This sounds contrary to what we have been talking about, but it is not. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a given amount of time (in the future, that is, not in the present). We always think we will have...

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Between discomfort and delusion (DW#316)

Goals worth achieving are not within our comfort zone. If they were, we would already have achieved them.

However, they cannot be so far outside our comfort zone that they are in the zone of delusion.

If you have never walked a single kilometer, setting a goal to do the Boston Marathon this year might be delusional. Making a daily habit to walk 5 kilometers might be in the discomfort zone but it is doable.

If you have not written a single article, writing a 500-page memoir this year might be in delusional. Starting a blog and committing to publishing an article a week will be a stretch but it is possible with the right planning, scheduling and accountability. It may, of course, lead to a 500-page memoir in the future . . .

If your bank account is at zero (or negative) right now, putting a down payment on a condo this year may be delusional. However, committing to saving 10% of your monthly income will feel uncomfortable but it is achievable if owning your own home has meaning and...

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Are you setting goals that you think you should? (DW#315)

Are you setting goals or making resolutions because you "think you should"? Or because others think you should?

If so, these goals are not very likely to be achieved.

Here is what some experts said in the Journal of Personality: "When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely."

So instead of setting goals that others think you should, or that you think you should, just pause for a moment and ask yourself: if you did were not scared, doubtful or anxious, what would you like to achieve this year? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you go for? What is your heart longing to achieve?

Write that down. Those are goals that are likely to have meaning for you and are aligned with your life purpose.

Setting goals like these are likely to help you realize your full potential....

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The difference between resolutions and goals (DW#312)

Most people talk about making resolutions at the new year, while some of us focus on setting goals.

What is the difference between the two and is one better than the other to bring about change and growth?

Let us take the example of health and fitness as this tends to be the number one domain of goal setting and resolution-making in January.

If you want to drop 25 pounds, it is a goal. A measurable achievement. Goals have a definite and precise endpoint. You will know when you have achieved your goal. (On a side note, when you do, it is important to take time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate!).

If on the other hand, you intend to work out 5 days a week and cut out processed foods, it is a resolution or a habit-goal. A resolution is a promise to yourself, a habit that you want to adopt, and it is more open-ended than a specific goal. It is a way to bring about a permanent change in lifestyle rather than simply a one-off event.

People who successfully make changes in their...

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Take your goals out of your head (DW#311)

What is the one thing that makes it 42% more likely that you will achieve your goals?

It is writing them down.

Here are some reasons why it is a good idea to get your goals and resolutions out of your head and onto paper.

  1. The act of writing down your goals clarifies what you really want
  2. Seeing the written goals motivates you to take action
  3. Writing down the goals gives them a concrete reality and helps to overcome resistance
  4. It invites focus by helping you to filter out other opportunities which distract from the written goals
  5. It allows you to see and celebrate your progress as you achieve these goals
  6. Writing and keeping your goals in view reminds you what you need to work on.
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A good time for a fresh start DW#310)

It is true that you can make changes and begin a journey of growth at any time of the year.

AND it is also true that there are times during the year when it is relatively easier to do so.

Dr. John Norcross (a leading researcher in behavior change) studies new year resolutions. One of his studies found that people who chose the beginning of a new year to make a positive change in their lives were much more likely to successfully make these changes than those who tried to make these changes at other times of the year.

Various experts have suggested that the reasons for improved odds of success at the new year may be:

a) the culture surrounding the tradition of making resolutions which encourages people to stop and reflect
b) the tendency to share these resolutions of change with others which helps keeps people accountable
c) the idea that people who have been thinking about changing for a while pick the new year as a start date because they are ready to move from contemplation to...

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