Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Next Thought:

The simplest of messages can carry such great meaning. These messages can have great impact in your professional and personal world.

When asked, how do you define leadership, I say “Influence”, leadership is influence. Leadership, a word that commands millions of articles, hundreds of characteristics, and a topic with much research and theory, I have distilled to one word. However, the “influence” comes with a large price tag in terms or responsibility, deliverability, recordability (new word), accountability and action. There are many characteristics and
appendages to this fine term, that we can all work on continuously.

My next thought, “Little Things Matter”. Grasp that thought and you increase your awareness to do the small things that set you apart. From increasing your participation, to showing up on time, to writing the thank you note, to becoming a better listener, to delivering great service, to the hundreds of small items that if ignored make you ordinary and when applied make you extraordinary.

My next thought, “Live With Gratitude”. If we study energy and emotions, we learn that gratitude is the highest vibration. There is no better place to live than to live with gratitude. One of my highest ranking recommendations, start each day with a grateful heart.

My next thought, “Deliver Value”. When you give, you are giving to the universe; you are not just giving to a cause, an organization or to a person. Don’t worry about the immediate payback. Decide to give without expectations and return. The universe will pay you big dividends.

My next though, “Practice kindness”. Recall the last time someone showed you an act of kindness and how it made you feel. Recall the last time you showed someone an act of kindness and how it made you feel. This is one of the best win-wins. I grew up in a home with a wonderful mother that repeatedly would say to us “it’s nice to be nice”.

My next thought, “Remember appreciation”. It is said that more than a raise, more than money, employees, want to feel valued and appreciated. Psychologist William James said, “The deepest craving in human beings is the need to be appreciated”. Everyone, no matter how educated, sophisticated, or mature wants respect and recognition. Good leaders know this and recognize team members for their efforts and accomplishments.
Lack of appreciation is one of the highest reasons people will leave a job or a relationship. On the flip side, always show real appreciation for a gift or compliment. Don’t downplay or sidestep expressions of affection or honor from others. The ability to accept or receive is a universal mark of an individual with solid self-esteem.

My next thought, “Don’t Underestimate the Team”. No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you're playing a solo game, you'll always lose out to a team. Collaboration is more important than ever. You may want to read the book, “Collaborate or Perish!”, by Bratton and Tumin. Collaboration is the game changer.

My next thought, “Live in the Flow”. I recently attended a wonderful workshop on this topic. Synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence that cannot be explained by cause and effect. The question of “how much synchronicity do you have in your life”, allowed me to find that I am a flow master (a lot of synchronicity - meaningful coincidence going on in my life). Great attributes include fortuitous events, gratitude, dwell in possibility, integrity, faith, take action, think positive and living your life with intention.

My final thought for now “Invest in You”. This is the quickest and simplest way that I can share one of my most important principles and has defined my life. Add new skills and knowledge to your portfolio. Attend seminars, subscribe to great magazines, volunteer, work with a mentor, listen and read from thought leaders. In the end more skills equals more opportunities personally and professionally.

See you next time on a Moment with Manal.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Best of Character - A Spiritual Journey

I am sharing a very personal and magnificent journey with all of you. I am writing this column from Makkah or Mecca as I am currently performing the Hajj or Pilgrimage. It is incumbent on a Muslim to perform this trip once in a lifetime if they are able physically and financially.

The Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It's a spiritual journey from within the person. It's essence is sincerity, love and hope. As we perform this act of worship, we ask that this trip is made easy and meaningful for us. This trip is an inspiration to have the best of character.

I am one of two million Muslims, from 70 different countries, that have traveled to Makkah and Medina with the purpose of undertaking the great journey of Hajj.

This is a time of complete selflessness. Think of the idea of serving each other and serving other people . Think about making sacrifices for other people. Imagine the beauty of a community that is truly able to practice selflessness. It takes constancy in work and purpose to do this. This sacred journey will test our patience, steadfastness and faith. It requires much sacrifice. Selflessness is not our natural state of being.

If we think about humanity as one creation, and the blessings we receive when we help others, we behave differently. We are generally concerned with our own needs, it's a huge shift to put others ahead of you. It takes special effort to behave this way. The best of us, make the intention to control our thoughts which controls our behavior.

Every pillar and ritual in Islam has purpose. The Hajj is an event of great spiritual, moral, and worldly significance. It is an opportunity for purification and for strengthening our relationship with our Lord. During this act of formal worship and devotion with prescribed rites to be carried out, we begin the transformation. At the same time, carrying out those rites along with a huge crowd teaches us the virtues of patience, good conduct, and love in how we relate to our fellow pilgrims. We are reminded from the moment we make the intention to perform Hajj, we must practice patience and humility to avoid negating the acceptance of Hajj. And one reminder is never enough.

Watching the pilgrims perform the Hajj, is exemplary of equality and unity. Muslims who belong to different nations, cultures, social and economical status are dressed in simple white garments, all performing the same rites. It's a reminder, there is no difference between rich and poor, as they all stand in front of their Lord in submission and humility.

Hajj is a purification of the soul from sins and a means to gain the Mercy of God. It requires a financial, physical, and emotional commitment. Hajj is not a vacation, or a business trip. Hajj has values, manners, virtues and rewards. It requires a great deal of physical exertion and tolerance. During the pilgrimage we are presenting ourselves to God. This is an opportunity to detach ourselves from our worldly needs, and devote
ourselves completely to God.

This was a two week experience of devotion to prayer, spirituality, and the remembrance of God. Dressed in simple garments, offering the five daily prayers and reciting passages for forgiveness, and blessings in this life, and the hereafter.

The most beautiful moment happens when you make the intention to go to Hajj. The second most beautiful moment happens towards the end of the trip when you begin to see the transformation of sharing, people caring, more smiling, less pushing and more unity.

The women are addressed as "sister" and the men are addressed as "brother". Other special moments include ordinary people that will buy cases of water, juices, tissues, fruits, and pass them out to the pilgrims as they are walking by, for the purpose of doing good and hydration.

Through history we have had many large gatherings for a purpose. Sporting, entertainment, cultural and political events have gathered large crowds, but no gathering has had the same significance for me, as the Hajj. I am grateful to have had this unique spiritual experience. May God accept our Hajj. Our goal in performing the Hajj and Worshiping God, is not to fulfill an obligation but to improve our character and our community.

See you next time at a Moment with Manal.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

You Can Be So Cool!

Here is what I know. People consistently under value themselves and their abilities.

A good technique to get someone to understand a message is in how you explain it and how you frame it. So here it is, imagine you are making a movie about your lifestyle and how you implemented a series of steps to improve your lifestyle, you have enriched your days and nights. Describe what it is you are doing.
Here are a few simple, simple suggestions. If this makes you think and then makes you move, then WOW! It was worth the few minutes you invested in reading this column.

Here is my submission to the producer for consideration. It begins with awareness then intention, followed by commitment. Once we become aware that we want a lifestyle that we love, we need to make the intention to do the things that will give us the life we want. Desire and commitment are very different. Commitment gives you power and purpose. Desire is where you do things when they are convenient, commitment is a binding

My first step is when I go to sleep is to thank God for the day and make the statement that with God’s grace tomorrow is going to be a great day. When I wake up, I’ m going to do my morning prayer, then I am going to verbalize that awesome things are going to happen today. It’s important for me to say it and hear myself saying it, so the angels hear it (I believe in angels), many of you know this as an affirmation and some of you may have an affirmation coach or partner. I will include a daily routine of stretching, followed by a cup of coffee and checking emails and social media. Sometimes I will watch a few minutes of news. My routine includes meeting a trainer (if no trainer, than develop a workout or go on a morning jog/walk). A refreshing shower followed by a small breakfast, then it’s time to get some work done. For some it’s going to be leaving to an actual office, for others it’s work from home.

Let’s brainstorm on things we can do to lift up our lives, simple techniques we can include. We want to create a lifestyle that we love regardless of where we are right now (divorced, unemployed, etc). Understanding that happiness creates success and not the reverse. Let’s move our life forward.

Water, I have become more aware and more attracted to the importance of water. Make yourself comfortable so you want to exercise. Begin with a small or light commitment. Meditation or positive self talk. Look at the challenges as opportunities, develop self control, this creates peace of mind. Cultivate happiness! How? By finding ways to be part of something bigger than yourself. Did you know that happy people are more productive, more healthy, more sociable and more likable. Act happy!
Treat yourself kindly and embrace vulnerability. Open up to tenderness. Use catchphrases that can change your behavior. (“Do nothing, go nowhere” or “Always say hello”, or “patience”). Focus on continuous improvement, go to seminars, learn new skills intentionally. Invite silence into your routine and practice spirituality. These small steps can help you live in joy and gratitude.

See you next time at a Moment with Manal.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Self- Reflection-The Humbling Effect

Everyone I meet teaches me something about myself! Thus, I am constantly learning and learning.

Think about the following:
“There will always be someone prettier, smarter, richer, more-successful than you.” How does that sound? If you’re an overachiever, not so great. 
However, when you apply that thought across the board it is more palatable, realizing it applies to everyone else. I remember the first time I heard that statement, it was being taught at a manners class that I had enrolled my children in. I remember thinking this is so powerful. It’s a good
reminder for all of us.

A reminder to continue to invest in our self and a reminder of humility. This summer in the course of one week, I met three very sharp individuals and I continue to meet more and more sharp minds that leave me saying “Wow. Great job”. In this case, all three of them were young men, brilliant, articulate, and engaging. Interestingly they were all Palestinian-American and they all shared the name “Ahmed or Ahmad”. Ahmad Ashkar, founder and CEO of Hult Prize, which was recognized by President Bill Clinton and Time Magazine as one of the top five ideas changing the world. Next you have Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, he is Host/Producer of Huff Post Live. Previously he launched, produced and was co-host on Al Jazeera English’s award-winning, social-media show, The Stream. Then I met 23-year old Ahmad Shami, Executive Director of Farouk Systems Palestine. You need to listen to him speak about Palestinian identity. Each of these young men,
inspiring and make you proud to know them. Each of them add value to the conversation.

Now here is the lesson, I believe many people undervalue their own unique abilities, time and time again. As a leadership coach, I teach: you only grow when you are stretched and the learning process should never stop. Daily I find myself reflecting on ways I could have improved a conversation, a meeting, an interaction or a relationship. Self-awareness and self-reflection are vital for self improvement.

Some times you win and sometimes you learn. There are times when I have the satisfaction of feeling that things went great and other times when I find myself saying, “pay attention”. Leadership is about using the head and the heart. Don’t get so comfortable with your successes that it derails you from improving. One thing I appreciate so much is to find those people that are willing to share their knowledge, ideas, and expertise. Those are the people that you appreciate and want to reciprocate with. This is the meaning of “be a river not a reservoir”. Take time to share and pass good information to others. Finally on the point of humility, I am no better than you, and I am no worse.

See you next time at a Moment with Manal.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Best In People

I was recently engaged in a conversation and was asked by a young person, "How do you bring out the best in people? How do you help the people around you be the best they can be?"
Before answering the question, I should have asked several of my own questions, to really gauge what the purpose of the question was. A good practice is to listen more and give little advice. To bring out the best in anyone, you have to be doing your best with yourself. As you can't give something you don't have.

This is a great question because it relates to one of my preferred principles that can be described as the compound effect, as well as LMT, Little Things Matter. Once again, it's so easy to ignore this because things that are easy to do are also easy not to do. You need to be intentional about what you're doing. The compound effect relates to the small, minute things that we do daily that appear insignificant, yet overtime
they create a major impact.

A quick story, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. The purpose of this practice is to develop self-discipline, engage in community, the remembrance of God, gratitude for what you have, to help others, and to practice humility. One of the sweetest things that happened last night, was this little voice and hand that woke me up with a glass of water in her hand, and said "Here, drink this glass of water before the fast begins". It was my 15 year old daughter, Laila; and that moment will be imprinted in my mind for it was such a special tender moment and quite the role reversal. A good example of bringing out the best in people. 

Through my mentorships, the first request I have is that we agree that we are intentionally going to learn new things daily, we are not just going to float through the day. Examples include reading specific books by thought leaders, attending workshops, on-line training, sharing skills, scheduling lunches with people in different professions that you can learn from, volunteering, etc.. This is the value of self improvement above
self promotion.

Back to how do you bring out the best in others, few things will pay you bigger dividends than the time and trouble you take to understand people. Simply begin with an encouraging heart, over and over again I see the beauty and power of encouraging others. It's easy to understand this as you can apply it to yourself. Are you not lifted by other's encouragement? I recently heard a phrase that said change "you should" to "I could", the lesson was: not to should on people, but rather take responsibility and change it to I could ….. The reason we don't should on people, is because it does not feel good.

Bringing out the best in others translates to adding value to others. Doing more listening and giving less advice. Trust is the foundation of leadership and is essential to all good relationships. The Best In People
Your own goal is to keep learning so that you want to change for the better everyday. As your growing, you can take others with you. What new skill are you working on now?

See you next time at a Moment with Manal.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I want to share a recent experience that will be longstanding and will serve as an example of great customer service as well as talking the talk and walking the walk. 

I was recently planning to go through a certification program to learn a powerful formula for positive change. When I received the call that the certification program was cancelled in Florida, and was being scheduled the following month in Kansas City, I let it be known that did not work for me and I was more than disappointed. I requested to speak with the instructor of the program, M.K. Mueller.

M.K. Mueller, gets it! She proceeded to offer to fly me to Kansas City, asked me when I could come, and made arrangements for my stay and transportation. It wasn't until after I arrived and the training started when M.K. began the course by introducing me to the class and stating "The reason we are all here is because of Manal." 

You see M.K. Mueller realized how disappointed I was that the Florida training was being rescheduled, she knew that I had the intention to share this material internationally and timing was important. She came through and was creative enough to put together a mastery training weekend, bringing back certified trainers for a higher level training, which was of great benefit for my certification.

Wow! Do you think I will ever forget that? Do you think I'm going to tell anyone about the great service I received? 

Let me proceed to share with you this powerful process known as 8 to Great. It includes 8 highways. Before I share the highways, let me share the power pyramid. Is power good? The answer is yes! If you think about it, one of the worst feelings is when we feel powerless. If we are at the bottom of the pyramid, we are at 5, meaning we are giving 95% of our power away. Our thoughts are negative (helpless, depressed, hopeless, powerless). If we are at the top of the pyramid we are at 95, which means 95% of our thoughts are positive (joy, gratitude, love, hope, enthusiasm, power). The good news is we can move from 5 to 95 in no time at all by what we choose to think about and focus on. 

What we want to remember is simply: when we feel good, good things happen! Rather than worry and complain, we can think about gratitude. It is not selfish to take care of one's self.

I will share the 8 highways for positive change in future columns. For now, just understand the power pyramid, and the concept of not giving your power away. Your most important job is to take care of yourself.

See you next time at a Moment with Manal with gratitude to M.K. Mueller.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Our most recent session at Fakhoury Leadership International (FLI) was on
Professional Presence- presented by one of my inspirational friends and daughter, Nawal Fakhoury.

As I messaged her last week to tell her that will be the basis of my column, she promptly messaged me back with 7 simple words: “It’s all about how you show up!” “Oh no”, I thought. I just finished showing up at the YMCA steering committee meeting with one tennis shoe on and one tennis shoe in my hand. Yes, I was trying to save a minute to get to the meeting on time. I knew I had broken the professional presence rule.
Now, here is the key and the lesson. When it comes to professional presence, which is a very important topic, the acronym to remember is PIE. Let’s discuss PIE. P is for Performance. This is your elevator pitch, a 30 second speech about yourself. Ultimately, whatever you do is a reflection of yourself. You want to enhance your performance and have a sense of urgency. Don’t shy away from the challenge and realize the importance of your job, whatever it may be. New ideas are welcomed but they need to be relevant.

The I is for Image.
How do people see you? What type of impression are you making? Answer the question, how do you want to be perceived? What do you convey with your energy? What is your promise? What do you want to leave behind? One of the best ways to understand how others perceive you is to ask for feedback.
Ask your close friends how you can enhance your image. You can also think about who you admire and what you would like to emulate and begin to embed those values.

The E is for Exposure.
This is your reputation. Define what you want to be known for. Be careful with this. Are you going to be known as someone who shows up late, who is argumentative, who is critical, or who is soft-spoken, inspirational, etc.? I suggest you take on 2 new behaviors to support your desired reputation. This has to be planned! What can I do, and what will I do specifically? Next, develop relationships with leaders, this gives you great visibility and the opportunity to model behaviors you like. In closing! Remember PIE: Performance, Image, Exposure and this is your professional presence.

See you next time at a Moment with Manal!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Moment with Manal

This is my first column and I’m delighted to share a few thoughts with you
that I consider to be amazing life lessons. Often we are asked if you could
give X number of items that helped you, what would they be (the list)?
There are certainly some basics. The love of learning and investing in your
self, the importance of gratitude, the doing more than is expected of you
principle, etc. Upfront I will share with you to be mindful, that you can learn
from anyone; children learn from adults and adults can learn from children.
I'm always learning wonderful things from my children.

For this first column, I have intentionally selected a topic that I believe is
rarely mentioned, and yet critical. Today I would like to speak to you about
strengthening your Personal Initiative. Success does not come to us by not
acting. We are talking about the importance of being proactive and doing
the little simple things, the extra things.

If you want to be more well regarded, gain more influence and build your
self esteem, advance in your career, it’s important to begin increasing your
personal initiative, not waiting to be asked to do something but taking
action on small everyday items at home and work regularly as part of your
routine. For example, when it comes to the work of mobilizing people, you
begin to see how people separate out. You quickly find the leaders, the gogetters,
and the doers. You appreciate those people and you become
attracted to them. This is an experience I am very familiar with in mobilizing
my community to lobby one day during the legislative session.

Yes, I'm inviting you to step up your game, to be the one that registers first
for an event, the one that makes a handful of calls when asked to serve on
a project, the one that writes the thank you note or encouraging email. All
those small actions are great contributors to setting you apart. It''s that
easy, because most people don't do it yet those that do get noticed.

Along with strengthening your personal initiative is the value of
visualization. Visualizing what you want is a powerful tool for those of us
that have figured it out. A fun memory is when I first met Riadh and I was in
my final year of pharmacy school he encouraged me daily to visualize my
notes in order before an exam. To review them by subheading so I can see
the information in my mind during the exam. It was the single best piece of
advice I received to accelerate my studies.

Recently I had trouble with my iMac; before we went into the Apple store,
Riadh and I visualized a positive outcome, where they would replace the
computer without any charge. Yes, that is exactly what happened at the
store. We walked out with a brand new iMac. I'm inviting you to either
begin or continue to visualize what you want to see happen in your day so
that you are open to receive those items/events throughout the day.
In this short moment, I am encouraging you to visualize what you want to
happen in your day and to commit to increasing your personal initiative.
See you next time at a Moment with Manal.