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Our survival depends upon our ability to communicate

The ability to communicate is related to the survival of the species itself.

Until quite recently, scientists used to think that man survived through the ages based on strength to brave the elements, search for food and build shelters.

But that view has since evolved.

Since the mid 90s brain studies have proven that it is not the strongest of the species that survived the longest but rather those who could best cooperate with one another in their search for food and building shelters. When ancient man communicated and cooperated with other homo sapiens and built families and tribes, all members had a greater chance of survival.

Although we may no longer be fighting for our survival as a species on a daily basis, we can still witness the life and death importance of communication for a newborn baby who learns very early that she has to get the attention of her parents if she is hungry or wet.

The need for contact and communication with the mother is not just for meeting physical...

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Let’s talk about communication

"Effective communication" is a buzz word in psychology and self development literature. A quick Google search on effective communication resulted in about 74,600,000 results in 0.63 seconds - yes that is 74 million plus results!

Clearly this is something that we human beings care about and are concerned about.

At some level, we know that communication is what connects us to others of our species. We can sense that we can meet our human need for connection if we can be understood by, and in turn, understand those who matter to us.

The impact of our communication skills, of course, goes way beyond intimate relationships. In the workplace, in the community, in leadership roles and in the world, our effectiveness as a human being depends greatly on our ability to communicate with others.

Something that is so intrinsically tied to our success and wellbeing should just come naturally, right?

Turns out that while the ability to communicate is a God-given gift, the ability to communicate...

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Be generous of spirit (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Simple advice for improved social relationships:

If you are greeted, then return the greetings more warmly. If you are favoured, then repay the obligation manifold; but he who takes the initiative will always excel in merit.
Imam Ali (as)

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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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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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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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