As professionals we receive information from multiple angles all day long. In the process our definitions become the definitions of the people surrounding us and we end up being perception followers. To become effective individuals we must know what to take in and what to keep out. But this filter in our minds can only be functional once we discard the old definitions of the words that govern our lives and replace them with the right definitions – the ones in the light of The Knowledge. Let’s get on the journey to redefine our lives by redefining our words.
When faith becomes your driving force, there is nothing that can stop you.
Find your foundation, find your purpose, have faith and keep moving.
Values are the drivers of our lives. What we don’t realize is that every action of ours at the workplace or outside is directly driven by our value system. For example, it is our values that set the groundwork of our conversations. They will be reflected in ‘why’ we are talking to any of the stakeholders above, below or equal in the organizational hierarchy to us.
Whenever we start a conversation with someone we must ask ourselves, is the conversation transactional or is it because I’m just ‘feeling’ like talking to that individual. Is it been done at the right place and at the right time?
Our values reflect in who we talk to and ‘how’ we talk. That comprises of the words that we use, the tone of what we say, the body language, the facial expressions, the response that we give to others on what parts of the conversation, how involved are our senses in it and are we keeping a check on them, what thought process is going on in our minds as we talk.
This is just a small example of how our values govern every single action that we do. How we come across to others and the perception that we build around us is directly proportional to how strong our value system is.
But what exactly are values and where do we find them?
Our values form the foundation of who we are, the shadow of which reflects in everything that we think, say or do. Our values are what we never compromise on, no matter what.
Values are what help us in deciding what to accept or reject; in making a choice of our thoughts, words and actions. They help us measure every single step that we take. They bring clarity to our minds giving us the ability to filter out what our surroundings throw at us in black or white, zero or one, out or not out.
Your value system is your handbook of do’s and don’ts that are in direct alignment with The Divine Message.
Keep referring to it every moment. Keep reflecting.
Our conscience is that in-built alarm system that The Creator gave us as a gift right at the time of our birth. We were born with it. But what depreciates the conscience over time is the need for acknowledgement from our circles. Seeking acknowledgement is that disease that eats up this internal regulation system like termite. The more we seek validation, the weaker our conscience gets and a time comes when it is completely eroded. When that happens you’re exposed to all evils, bare naked.
To stay away from all thoughts, words and actions that can harm us in present and future, we must keep our conscience at our minds’ gateways. Take care of it; feed it; nurture it. That’s your only guard.
Validation is what we waste the majority of our lives after – the hollow desire to fit in, to be told we are right or to tell someone that they are wrong. Validation starts from that little gold star on your kindergarten books to the likes you get on your profile pictures today. It is nothing but a disease.
It’s a bottomless pit, a never ending downward spiral that keeps pulling you down perpetually. The more you try to fill it, the more you realize how it has no end. It infects your mind like incurable cancer. It becomes a desire that can never be fulfilled.
This consistent seek of validation quietly strangles your self-belief. The worst part is that you aren’t even aware of it. As your self-belief deteriorates, your ego feels attacked, therefore making you more prone to keep falling deeper and deeper into the pit of complexes. But hey, you believe you are a strong individual…just a little caught up in likes, shares and retweets.
Why is it that you need to be told about your self-worth from the world? Who qualified their opinion for you? How is it that they have more authority on deciding your value than your own self?
Be truthful to yourself and know that no one’s opinion about you matters except your conscience.
Esteem is an asset. You either have it or you don’t. Esteem is gained by getting rid of your complexes, insecurities and false perceptions that have been superimposed on you through irresponsible content via media and your circles.
Esteem is what you find at the core of yourself as you keep shedding layers and layers of ego. They are like matter and anti-matter. If one exists the other cannot. The more you kill your ego, the more you strengthen your esteem.
A person of high esteem radiates self-belief, has respect for self and others and is free of insecurities. He or she does not seek validation from anyone but The Creator. A person of esteem practices mindfulness day in day out. Such a person is driven by values aligned with faith and keeps a constant check on thoughts, words and action.
A person of high self-esteem in its truest form is a person of faith.
“Serve your esteem, starve your ego”
Strength is not the display of unnaturally attained body types as depicted on media platforms.
Strength is in the mind. It stems from faith. If you don’t have mental strength derived from faith, no matter how much of physical work out you do, your body will only be a showcase of some muscle fibers taking shape; not strength.
Want to be strong? Work on your strength.
Want to gain strength? Work on your faith.
That’s the only and last resort.
Bravery is beyond cosmetics. Muscles, height, deep voice are all a facade if bravery is not in the mind.
What bravery actually means is that you are true to yourself in the most difficult of situations. You face the truth no matter how painful it is. You are clear about taking the path that aligns with your values, no matter how much it hampers your chances of success. Bravery is sticking to your commitment at all times of discomfort.
We often attribute our little sparks of courage as bravery. But know that it is a trait and a permanent state of mind, which if not practiced constantly would stagnate your growth, entirely. Be brave in your mind first, the rest will follow.
‘Faith’ and ‘balance’ go hand in hand. All human beings were sent to this earth at their mean. When we are sent to this world, we are yet to fill the negative and positive logs of our life for which we will be accountable for.
A person of faith realizes this. Being aware of how character is defined by thoughts, words and actions, a believer ensures a balance of all three which reflects the clarity of faith within.
Be a person of ‘faith’, be a person of ‘balance’.
The only innate ‘curiosity’ you are born with, is the curiosity to find your Creator. You can’t look at Him but you see Him all around you every day; you can’t hear His voice but you hear Him every second of the day; you can’t touch Him but you feel Him in every heartbeat throughout the day. But if you still can’t find Him, find yourself. You’ll find Him.
To become a benchmark yourself, first you need to choose the right benchmarks for yourself. To choose the right benchmarks you need to ask the right questions as to why a person qualifies to be your benchmark. Is he or she living a life of purpose bigger than their self? Is that person driven by reflection? Do they keep their values at the gateway of their minds? Do they live a life of focus, clarity, effectiveness and faith? Are they mindful of their thoughts, words and actions.
If you want to see a life of reflection, a life of extreme focus, clarity and effectiveness, a life that is driven by values, see the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The only human who qualifies to your benchmark is him.
A man is known by the company he keeps. We’ve all read or heard this proverb. But do we even truly understand the depth behind it? It is the company of people, our circles, that we keep ourselves surrounded with that truly makes or breaks the pathway to who we were meant to be.
In today’s so-called ‘connected’ world, we often find ourselves banking on our circles. It has become a way to show how ‘influential’, ‘powerful’ or ‘well-known’ we are.
Our choice of people who we spend time with determines who we become. Circles have a very strong influence on our personalities. People we have extensive contact-time with, brush off their traits on us and vice versa. This is why successful and effective people will always be vary of who they spend time with. They will ensure their circle improves them for their long term goals.
While our value system is our backbone, our circles become the reason of either depreciating that bone or making it brittle.
Choose your circles wisely.
How effective you are in life, how well you perform, what results you get, all of this is directly proportional to how clear your mind is. The more the clarity, the sharper the brain’s processing and the more focus you attain. The more the focus, the better the results. Simple.
There’s nothing more empowering than being in control of your own mind.
But how do we achieve the clarity of mind?
The more you reflect on your life (both past and present), the more you understand yourself and the more clarity your mind gains. Identify your past trends, the mistakes you made and ask yourself why did you do what you did? How could you have dealt with that situation ideally? Keep asking yourself the right questions, keep digging, and keep rectifying. Once your mind gets on autopilot with the process of reflection, there is no way that you can’t gain clarity of mind.
The most misused word as a means to get away from changing ourselves. It is the faulty understanding and hence the wrong use of this word that has kept the status quo of the society intact. The definition of the word ‘culture’ has been crippled again and again every time we used it to package our thoughts, words and actions.
To break the shackles of the status quo, we must first break the wrong definitions of culture. The definitions that were given to us by our circles and media.
But then one asks, what is culture in real?
Culture is your state of mind that is nurtured on your value system – the value system that is based on faith. Your culture is what you carry with you in your mind. It is the ‘approach’ that we take to deal with any situation. In simple words, it is the way of things.
Want to define your culture? Define your values first.
Don’t know how to define values? Go back to the basics.
Go back to ‘Faith’.
The exact opposite of self-esteem. Ego is that invisible negative force within you that can disguise itself with multiple faces such as self-righteousness, self-doubt, over confidence and insecurities.
A child when born is ego-free. It is the brought up by his guardians, the content that they feed in that child’s brain, the circles that they choose for that child develops his ego. And as the child grows into an adult the ego is nurtured day in and day out with comparison, complexes and perceptions given to him through irresponsible content shown on media platforms and circles.
Until you break free from the chains of the ego that was never meant to be there, you can never revert to your ‘natural’ state. Hence, you can never find your true self that is buried deep down under layers and layers of ego.
And until you don’t find your real self you can never be an effective individual because you are driven by not your own self but by that negative force within you. Your mind is no more in your control.
Want to be effective? Get rid of ego.
Want to get rid of ego? Reflect.
A friend is someone who ‘earns’ your trust by establishing and practicing your beliefs, your values. A friend is not someone who you ‘spend the most amount of time with’; but someone who inspires you every single day to become the best version of yourself. Choose wisely.
Grace is not defined by how you appear. Grace is in how you carry yourself and that is defined by your thoughts, words and actions when they are aligned with faith. It is the surety of these three fundamental elements of your character that gives you ‘comfort in your own skin’.
The urgency is a state of mind that shows in your actions; it shows in your response time between realization of who you were sent to be and execution towards becoming that.
Be very sure of what you want to achieve in your life and do not let anything distract you from your goal.
Empathy is a trait nurtured when you find yourself. Once you know who you are, you’re able to put yourself in other person’s shoes and understand their situation much more effectively but it doesn’t end there. You understand their situation with ‘your’ values in place so you can show them the right and the wrong the way you see it. This can only be practices the right way once your values are in place – the ones built on faith.
Mistake, the often misunderstood word, is strongly linked with your conscience and purpose. Any thought, word or action that does not align with conscience must be identified as a mistake and fixed. Repeated mistakes blur the difference between right and wrong. In the way I live, I don’t call a mistake, ‘mistake’; I call it a ‘crime’; helps me visualise the damage it can cause in detracting me from my purpose.”
If reflected upon, failure becomes a stepping stone towards the fulfillment of your purpose.
Leadership is often misunderstood as a position, as a rank. Leadership is a trait that we all have within us but can nurture only when we find our selves through the process of reflection. Leadership is not bound by age. A teenager can be a leader too. A life of effectiveness is a life of leadership.
You are judged by your decisions. If you have your purpose figured out, you will take the right decisions that lead you towards it. Find it and define yourself the right way.
Heroes are those who create social and economic impact. If Pakistan’s 220 million become heroes and start contributing in their own capacities, imagine what all we can achieve, together. You don’t need to be on the television to be a hero, your impact defines you as one.
A life driven by impact…what does it mean? It’s simply the net effect of your thoughts, words and actions on the society. You may think thoughts reside in the mind, but in actual they’re visible all over your existence since the words and actions are driven by them. Hence, guard your thoughts and be responsible about your words and actions- these define who you are. As they say, life is short, live everyday as your last.
Reflection is a repetitive process of introspection to find who your original self is- the one that was sent to this world by your Creator. Our senses interact with the external factors at all times- the eyes and ears being the strongest inlets of information to our minds, we buy narratives and perceptions which slowly drift us away from our original selves. As I always say, ‘The knowledge gained from finding yourself is all you need to understand the world.”
A brand is not what you wear or use, it is what you carry within yourself. The quality of your brand is identified by the quality of your thoughts, words and actions. It is identified by the quality of your circles – the people you spend your time with. Your brand is identified by how responsibly you live your life. It is determined by how deeply you look at life; how indifferent and how not-indifferent you are about things and what things. Your brand is identified by the quality of the content that you absorb in life. It gets defined by the way you operate, the way your brain functions. It gets defined by how much you value or dis-value your time. The quality of your brand is identified by the sheer quality of your choices and decisions.
If you are different in different circles, it means your brain is not functioning well; it means you are confused and in a serious identity crisis; it means you are coping with the world constantly trying to not remember who your real self was.
It is essential for us to work consistently to find our most optimal brand by working hard to find the best version of it every single day!
Wisdom is the end point on the journey from intelligence through intellect. It is determined by the quality of your choices and decisions, your circles, your experiences; it is determined by the quality of your conversation, the content seen and delivered; the quality of your thoughts, words and actions.
Intelligence is God gifted; it is innate and is there within each one of us. Wisdom is ‘achieved’ by ‘converting’ that intelligence through hard work in the right direction. In between intelligence and wisdom there lies intellect. When you start using your innate intelligence in making decisions in your life, it converts into intellect. Your intellect knocks at the door of your conscience which is connected to your heart and soul, and your heart and soul are connected to the Almighty.
So now, when you will take a decision it will reflect wisdom. It will be an amalgamation of your intelligence, experience, hard work and blessings of the Almighty. Such a decision is termed as a ‘wise’ decision. Such a decision cannot go wrong because it is backed by faith. And if it does go wrong, know that it was not meant for you, rather it was there to teach you. Get up again and try again. The more you try, the more you fail; the more you fail the more persistent you become; the more persistent you become, the more likable you become for those sitting behind your conscience (the Angels). This is when you achieve Iqbal’s “Khuddi”.
When God sees your persistence, your perseverance, your ability to not give up, that is when He asks you, ‘Bta tujhe kiya chahye?’ (What is it that you want?’) and then He puts the entire Universe at your feet.
Hence, wisdom is achieved once you achieve Khuddi.
No one is gifted with wisdom, you work for it!
Zero is not just a number; it is the state at which you were born – the mean. It’s that original state of your self that is free from impact of the surroundings. As we grow up, we understand life through narratives and perceptions given by others, which takes us far away from our original self. Our values get blur and definitions go wrong. The more we take narratives, the more our definitions get faulty and the farther we move away from our mean. To be effective in life, one has to first ‘strive’ to come back to his/her original state – the zero. The real journey begins after.
Patience is a virtue of the wise. Practice it everyday by being mindful of your responses. Take your responses like an asset; they are not be wasted for trivial, petty issue. Be very clear that not every battle is worth fighting; not every action of someone is to be given a response. Be wise; be patient.
Reflection is the tool that connects your outer self to the inner. One becomes delusional primarily when they don’t try to find who they are from within. Delusion will make you misread your surroundings and your stakeholders leading to a mediocre life. Hence, reflect- your power within.
Choices are the backbone of your character. Every single choice you make either brings you closer to your purpose or pushes you farther away from it. How conveniently we say, “I did not have a choice!”- You always did and you always will have it. Treat your choices like those MCQs in your exam which have negative marking for every wrong answer because that’s exactly the impact they have on your life. One wrong choice can change the fate of your life forever. Be kind to yourself.
Thoughts shape your life, literally. How you see the world around you and inside you, it’s all defined by your thoughts. How you drive your life is dependent on how you drive your thoughts!
Brilliance without execution is nothing!
Before you can take responsibility of others, you must take responsibility of your own self first. It all begins with YOU.
There is no ‘win’ state in negotiation. There are very little heroics and a lot of human play involved in how you approach it. Your conscience has to be on high alert in this process because you don’t want to start responding to ‘win’.
Negotiation is about hearing things that people are saying and not saying. It’s about understanding them, reading their minds, their body language. Driven by empathy, the purpose of negotiation is never to make the other person lose but to reach a common ground where even the so-called losing party has something to takeaway from it. All of this is a result of you striking the right balance between your want and your need.
The aim is to reach a mid-way that is beneficial to all parties and the pathway to becoming an effective negotiator is only through Reflection.
A winning behaviour is nothing else but the mindfulness of our thoughts, words and actions.
Sharpness makes its way through innocence. Want to be sharp? Nurture your innocence. Want to guard your innocence? Stay away from narratives.
You don’t need to know about everything. But how do you identify what those things are? One word, “values”.
If anything does not align with your value system, don’t run after finding about what it is just because others know of it. Others knowing about something you don’t know does not qualify it for your brain. It might just not be good for you and by trying to find about it you might actually end up harming your own self.
Leadership is all about taking responsibility. It’s not a position; it’s a state of mind.
Someone who helps you align your thoughts, words and actions with The Book, is a person worthy of being called your ‘friend’.
…and you find your purpose when you find your self.