Monthly Archives: May 2011

Greatest success secret of all times

This post is heavily inspired by an article by a brother who prefers to be unnamed. May god almighty accept his inputs and the inspiration it provides as righteous deeds.

“So do not weaken and do not grieve, for you will indeed be superior if you are truly believers.”
[Al-Quran 3:139]

This verse was revealed to prophet Muhammed (PBUH), soon after the believers suffered a stunning defeat in the Battle of Uhud at the hands of the transgressing tribes of Makkah . It was revealed as an encouragement and reminder to the defeated pious. As a student of Self Improvement and actualization, I see it as the greatest success secret of all times.

This is what Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA) had to remind Saad bin Abi Waqqas (RA) before the battle of Qadisiyyah- “Fear your sins more than you fear the enemy as your sins are more dangerous to you than your enemy. We believers are only victorious over our enemy because their sins outnumber ours, not for any other reason. If our sins were equal to those of our enemy, then they would defeat us due to their superior numbers and resources.”

Let us restate the obvious here. Victory and defeat, gains and losses, and successes and setbacks are not decided by money, resources, numbers or skills. Rather, they are decided by the degree of obedience that we show to the will of the almighty. The more we obey him, both individually and collectively, the more we hasten His Victory. The more we disobey him, the more we delay the arrival of His Victory. The sin of just one of us can delay victory for the entire community. It is very easy to blame external factors for all the injustice happening around us. It has become our second nature to blame “them” for our woes and worries. But the truth is that we have only ourselves to blame.

Look at us and our pathetic state. We have abandoned prayer. We are too stingy to give even obligatory charity. We prefer to go on holidays than on pilgrimages. We drink alcohol, we use and supply drugs ,we cohabit outside wedlock, we steal, we lie, we cheat. We are quick to spend on fashion and luxuries but slow to spend on orphans and the needy. We fail to utter a single word, let alone raise a finger, when we see our fellow beings being tyrannized. We waste our lives watching television and clicking “I like” icons on Facebook. We are too busy to fulfill our responsibilities as vicegerents of almighty god on Earth. And after all this (and more), we have the audacity to wonder why justice and truth doesn’t win over aggression and evil.

Every sin we commit delays the arrival of Victory of truth over falsehood, good over evil. Every prayer we delay extends the agony of an innocent somewhere. Every drug we take allows another sister or daughter to be brutally dishonored. Every hour we waste allows the poor and needy to be exploited more. Every time we even gaze at something forbidden, we place an obstacle in the path of victory of good over evil. Let us understand this clearly. A sin is not a ‘private matter between us and god’ but one sin can make the difference between victory and defeat for Truth and Justice.

Le us remember God’s Promise: “So do not weaken and do not grieve, for you will indeed be superior if you are truly believers.” He promises relief, assistance, superiority and victory on the condition that we are true believers. If untruth and evil prevails today, it is not because God has gone back on his promise, it’s simply because we have ceased to be believers.


Filed under Till sunset and beyond

Time to review our Goals Folks……

With the rapidity of the tsunami that ruthlessly swept across Japan, or the briskness of Osama Bin Laden’s burial at sea (according to Islamic rights) or the fleetness of the waves of protests sweeping across the Middle East, the better (or bitter) half of 2011 has already passed us by. So it would be a grand time to reflect back on the magnificent goals that we had all set either in those dusky evenings of 2010 or in those wee hours of 2011.

If you were among the privileged few who didn’t have any Goals for the year 2011… that’s fine. Please go ahead and celebrate. If you didn’t have anywhere to go, any road will take you there. So Congrats! And may you keep winning year after year.

Hope my sarcasm doesn’t trickle down to this paragraph. This is for the focused ones. All those of you who had goals with clear milestones and have reached where you wanted to… Super Mabrook. You are in that exclusive 3% of the world who set goals and really manage to get them. We would love to hear your success stories. Go ahead, blow your bugles. We will post them on this blog. If professional goals have also been humbled, you can use this opportunity to let your bosses know about your indispensability. Just a tiny doubt….. Were your goals really challenging ones? Did they stretch you well enough? Did you experience that overwhelming feeling of actualization and achievement when you realized it? Did you feel proud of the rungs conquered and heights achieved? If yes, then super duper mabrook. The problem with most of us is not that we set high goals and fail to reach them, but is that we set such low goals and achieve them tooooooooooooo easily. Hope you are exceptions to this.

For all those who had set goals and failed to achieve them…. Let us do some introspection together. Let us help each other to learn the reasons why goals are so often abandoned by the waysides of life.

Please choose the apt reason by clicking the link below. Thanks in Advance. Do share this link with your friends (Let us be better informed before we prescribe antidotes…)


Didnt realise my goals because….


Filed under A new sunrise

Leaders or Misleaders?

In a recent Leadership Training that I had conducted for the Insurance Sector, I opened the session by posing the “usual” question- “Who is a Leader?” to my well groomed, seemingly well informed multi cultural crowd.

And I got the “Usual” answer- “Anyone who takes people towards the realization of a common goal”. Probably they had learnt this clichéd response in school. Out of genuine curiosity, I enquired- “Any Goal, or should it be a Good one ?

And pandemonium broke loose.

“Good?. What is Good for someone is bad for someone else. It’s very subjective. So let’s leave “Good” out of the equation”- they chorused unanimously.

I was in a dilemma now. “Good ”and “Bad” are not subjective concepts. They are based on age old universally accepted principles. Well, some people do tend to mince their views about the two extremes of the continuum and convince themselves that Gray is acceptable. But deep inside our souls, we all know the difference between White and Black.

Lying, Stealing, Cheating, Oppressing, Being Unfair, hurting and killing unarmed/helpless/innocents……. These are bad things

Helping others, Being honest, fighting for a good cause, working with integrity…. These are good things

Someone takes people towards the realization of common “Bad Goals”. Does that make him a Bad Leader?. Does that make him a Leader at all?. What do you mean by “Ethical Leadership ?”. Can there be unethical Leadership?

After a lot of deliberating, I felt that there should be only two classifications- Leaders or Misleaders. When I aired my views, my trainees disagreed. Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush….. they came up with a long list of infamous names. Didn’t people follow them?. Weren’t they inspiring? – they challenged me vociferously.

Let’s take the case of the late Mr. Osama Bin Laden. I have never met him or spoken to him. All my paradigms are based on Media reports. And I am not 100% sure (to say the least) that the media is unprejudiced and fair. But since we don’t have alternatives, let us accept blindly what Fox News has to say.

Bin Laden couldn’t tolerate the state of affairs of the people in Palestine. He felt that America is the reason for their troubles. He decided to punish Americans for this. He rallied people to fly commercial airliners into the world trade centre. Many innocents died. He inspired people to do similar acts in different parts of the world.(Courtesy Fox News and their fans)

If we go by the standard definition of “Leader”, We will have to agree that he was indeed one. Got People to follow and achieved his goals through them…didn’t he ? But didn’t he also go against many age old values that we all accept, respect and try our best to comply?

Lying– He used the concept of Jihad to rally people around. Islam unequivocally denounces violence against innocents. Permission is given to fight only against those who dole out injustice and tyranny. And there are clearly laid out rules regarding the nature and extent of response. The Who, Where, When, What and How are inscribed on stone. He broke most of them. His battle was anything but Jihad.

Wrong Targets– He didn’t attack those who were responsible for his grievances. Hundreds of innocent men women and children lost their lives in the attacks

Though his intentions may be justified (standing up for the oppressed), his reactions were flawed, the outcomes of his reactions were disastrous and the means employed to achieve his goals were based on an excess of false rhetoric.

Even if a section of the world do consider him as a Leader, they will realize their folly the day they allow their logical adult brains to win over their blinded animal brains. Sharing the pain of the oppressed will not for ever go along with condoning the insane crimes of the so called Avengers. So let all of us who can think clearly shelve this concept of “Bad Leader” and go by the new dichotomies- Leaders or Misleaders.

To be fair,the same holds good and even better to all the so called celebrated Leaders around- George Bush, Gaddafi, Netanyahu, Tony Blair, So and So and …………No wonder *&^%! and OSAMA spells almost the same.

Unless their goals and means align with the age old principles and values treasured by our consciences, let us not dare to affix the title of “Leader” to anyone.

And let us all search hard all around to find someone who really deserves this title. Let us choose someone who the unforgiving tommorows will revere. And if we can’t find one… let’s try our best to be one. This world really needs some Leading.

Have a nice Weekend.


Filed under A new sunrise

What our Children need to know: To be Champions

Had the opportunity recently to take part in a forum on the above subject. The session solicited areas that are not usually taught in schools. Got some fantastic responses. I have consolidated the answers. It will be useful for parents, teachers, trainers and students themselves. Feel Free to add your own ideas to the list. Each point can be developed into projects that can make the new generature Future Proof…..

Curiosity, to know all the answers
Understanding ones predominant Intelligence (from the 7 different intelligences) and ones predominant learning style (from the 3)
How to adapt ones Learning Method to one’s Learning Style and Intelligence
Memory Techniques
Speed Reading
Apt Foreign Language (Could be Arabic in the Middle East)
The ability to research and seek out information
Writing Skills
History…and how to avoid mistakes
The value of lifelong learning

what makes them inspired
what provokes them
what gives them joy
What makes them sad
What are their strengths and weaknesses
Understanding their personality and communication styles

Social Skills
How to have positive relationships with others
Anger Management
How to seek feedback and clarify to avoid misunderstandings
How to handle criticism
How to refrain from mind reading and avoid biases from influencing them
Effective communication
Common courtesy and Good Manners
Reading and Managing emotions in self and others

Moral Compass
Ethical Behavior
To be thankful for what they have
The Value of Service and Giving
Respect for others
Compassion and Empathy
Respect and to value the cultural diversity in our world

Personal accountability
Commitment to seeing a project through
Taking responsibility for our own actions
Decision making
Creative thinking
Confidence to explore new ideas
Ambition, Goal Setting and Goal management
Survival-how to get over with any situation and persistence
How to handle failure and pressure
Overcoming obstacles to any goal
Influencing Skills, to make others follow
Presentation skills, to convince a group
Collaboration, how to work well in a team
Drive for continous self improvement

Life Skills
Value of Time and Money
How the working world works
what people like and dislike about their job
what does a typical day consist of
what would they change if could go back and start again
Basic banking
Credit card responsibility
Balancing a budget
Technology skills to be faster and more efficient

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Filed under A new sunrise

Fostering Positive Behavior Change

The other day, a good friend of mine called on me at my office. During the customary small talk, he shared with me a not so great experience that he had at one of our branches. Pushing the liberties that he enjoyed with me to the very extreme, he spat out-“Ibrahim, your customer service %&^%&”. Though I immediately got into the offensive and started a hugely unconvincing lecture on the topic “100 reasons why we are better than the rest of the world”, his comment pushed me into a reflective Self introspective mood later on. Even with all those Trainings, Incentive programs and Morale boosting events, why were we unsuccessful in getting our customer facing staff to behave professionally?

Being a huge fan and an ardent user of LinkedIn, I posted my predicament on a couple of busy forums and voila!!!! A plethora of simple, easy to implement, yet effective suggestions started pouring in. And as I delved into each of them, I realized that with a little bit of creative thinking, they can be implemented in every area where one is facing gaps in performance. From improving the behavior of children, spouses, colleagues, Bosses and your own esteemed self. With a million thanks to all those wise online friends who cared to share, let me reproduce their ideas here.

Inspire their hearts- Give them the big picture. Create a Vision statement that paints a motivating mental picture of their department getting the award from the CEO for the best department in the organization. Fill the Vision statements with adjectives that they want to hear about themselves. Make them see this statement every day.

Make expectations crystal clear every day– Have pre shift and post shift meetings. People have really short memories

Give Feedback and constructive criticism assertively

Ensure availability of guidelines, support and resources- Help them do the job better

Prepare behavior standards like “I will always greet the customer before the customer greets me” and make staff evaluate each other.

Speak to the staff, understand their issues and get their suggestions

Make them aware that they are constantly watched… through mystery shoppers and similar approaches

Get them together regularly and let them reflect and come out with creative ways to improve service

Change Roles– Get them to experience the service that they provide. Let them feel the pain

Use Pleasure and Pain– Measure performance regularly and align it with incentive and punitive measures

Get them to brainstorm and come out with 7 Customer Service values, like “Make the customer feel respected”. Give them ways to live each of these values. Share with them real case studies (which involve them) about each of these values. Make story- telling and appreciation a regular feature of every team briefing.

Use Positive change agents to observe and coach associates

Encourage staff to go out and about, into other branches and retail outlets to observe customer service

Coach the Leaders who coach and manage the front line staff

Make sure that every department supports the front liners in the best possible ways through approaches like Service level Agreements

Put together a video recording of a few customers who speak about what has delighted them and what has pained them in their interactions with the organization, and show it to staff members

Arrange monthly ‘Welcome to Work days’ where employees were given a warm welcome, a cup of coffee & pastry (by a different dept every month) on arrival at the staff entrance similar to the welcome that a hotel guest would receive

Facilitate Customer Service incentives – bingo cards with various customer (or sales) orientated tasks….the teams worked out the prizes themselves i.e. the winner gets coffee made for them for a week or gets to choose his/her quota for a week

Wall of Fame – photos and achievements to be posted on a wall in the staff room

Have a “Get to Know You Day“? Everyone spends sometime getting to know a little more about each other

Implement an awards program recognizing both individual and team performance regarding customer service

Treat your staff the way you want them to treat your customers

Allow each branch to share the best practices that they have implemented to improve service

Interview staff that have consistently fared well and share their ways of thinking and feeling with all staff

I am sure that this list will help you a lot. Please feel free to share your own thoughts. Once again, let me express my gratitude to all my online friends who helped me to put this list together.

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Filed under A new sunrise

Dazebook Perils

How much are you obsessed with Face book, say on a scale from 1 to 10?

If your score reads 8 or more, then please do read through this post. Otherwise you can close this page and navigate back to Dazebook. Oh no!! How can I be so obsolete?. You don’t have to open any browser anymore. You can just click that fancy looking widget in your smart phone and enter that virtual wonderland which is quickly becoming the world’s most populated community (Beating even China)

What do I (Imagine, Ibrahim against Mark Zucky and his die hard millions) have against Face book? Let me very humbly put up a list of perils.

Puts you in a Cocoon: When people are on Face book, they forget their surroundings completely. Ringing doorbells, crying babies, calls for help, squeals of delight……..all gets filtered out as one does the all so important task of commenting “So cuteeee……..” “Koochi Kooo”, or clicking the “I Like” icon or forwarding some “Much seen and better avoided” pics or video links.

No friends in the Real world: Visits to the neighbors, Social get togethers… where you meet real people are slowly dwindling away, as one gets more and more addicted to reading just updated status messages and coming up with posts for yourself. Where will you get time to smile when you are busy uploading pictures of your cat, kitchen, laundry bag etc , for the entertainment of all those “People you may know”. Speaking about addiction, I have seen people rushing back to this daze world every other minute to play one of the hundreds of games available, even at the dead of the night.

No time to learn and develop: 2 hours on face book every day- that’s 12.5% of the time that you are awake. If you live up to 65, you would have spent almost 9 years socializing. Just imagine the opportunity costs involved. What benefits would you have gained if you had used this time to learn and develop?

Unwanted Exposure: Congrats!!! you have made yourself completely exposed to the world. Anyone who wants to find out anything about you will be able to do so now. If you have people in your life who want to stalk you or intimidate you, it will be a cake walk for them . Maybe you have some old friends who you don’t want to talk to anymore or someone you owe money to. Thanks to Dazebook, you are just a click away. Please make sure to provide your age, birth date, address, location, occupation, and other personal information. It will make it easier for Identity thieves to take advantage of you. And yes- Simple things like a picture that has your car’s license plate in it or posting a status message saying that you’ll be on vacation for the next week is better than sending a direct invitation for burglars to rob your house.

Possibility of Conflict: Even with all your maturity and patience, you may not be able to put up with the actions of those cool dudes who create stupid status messages, upload embarrassing picture and many other ridiculous actions. Dazebook thus opens up a million chances for you to lose your cool.

No hierarchies: When I was small, I wouldn’t dare to enter my Grandfathers room. Now my son and his great uncle appear simultaneously on pages adorned with sick jokes and vulgar comments. The other day, my 10 year old was caught opining “I want to get in touch with my 3rd grade teacher again. I want to ask her whether she is on Face book”

Socializing or flirting ?: I don’t want to elaborate. But I personally know of more than a dozen divorces that happened due to face book and scores of parents have come to us seeking help. “My 9 year old daughter is flirting with a much senior man ….HELP !!!!!”

Thank god!!! I have managed to evade this addiction till now. To all those who tell me to also look at the positive side of things and to give credit to Face book for its benefits… I would like to quote Islam’s take on alcohol. “It has good sides and bad sides and the bad sides heavily outweigh the good ones”. So go ahead…. Take a calculated risk if you want… if you think that you can handle it.


Filed under A new sunrise

I dont know Sweetheart

My wife came to me as I was cozily drifting into my Saturday slumber, drawn out on the comfortable living room sofa. She had the list of the Top news stories of the 21st century complied by the Global Language Monitor. The curious lady had questions about every one of them to her well informed and authoritatively opinionated better half.

Fortunately I had answers for every single question- the same one…

News item number 1: The Rise of China

Question: “How can someone be a communist and hyper-capitalist at the same time. Aren’t they mutually exclusive?”

News item number 2: Election of Barack Obama

Question: “How could the whole world (even you ) be foolish enough to unanimously dream that any president would actually bring changes to US policies?”

News item number 3: Death of Osama Bin Laden

Question: “How could some Muslims support Osama Bin Laden when he is said to have killed innocent men, women and children?”

Another one on the same item

Question: “They said that Saddam Hussein was captured in December. But as he was being dragged out of the fox hole, we could see date palms laden with ripe fruit (which ripens only in summer) in the background. And then you have the WMD story. They have lost their credibility. So how can we trust the same guys now?”

News item number 4: Wiki leaks

Question: “The Swedish Prosecution Authority had dropped the warrant for Assange a few hours after his previous arrest. Then why was he arrested again. That too after his site was taken off from one server after the other on instructions given by the US Government?”

News item number 5: British Royal Wedding

Question: “Why is the world going Gaga over the wedding of a man from a tiny island whose Great Grand Father once brutally ruled most of the world ?”

News item number 6: Death of Michael Jackson

Question: “All the child molestation charges against him were dropped because he gave the parents truckloads of money. Does this make him guilty or innocent ?”

News item number 7: Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States

Question: “Who really did this?”

News item number 8: Japanese Tsunami

Question: “Even after all these years of scientific progress, are we so helpless against the forces of nature ?”

News item number 9: Arab Spring uprisings

Question: “Don’t these leaders who used brutal force against their own people fear god and the judgment day ?”

News item number 10: Global economic meltdown

Question: “Will you get your bonus this year ?”

My consistent answer was “I don’t know, sweetheart”.


Filed under A new sunrise