Conversation with the African Youth in Denver

On June 14th, 2014, I had the privilege and the honor to be the guest speaker at an African Youth Event in Denver. The topic of conversation, with the youth, was “Life is about choices, not chances”. I first shared the videos on Facebook and people seemed to enjoy them. Now I am sharing with you, the readers of this blog. There are two videos, part one is the presentation and part two, the Q&A session. Thanks for watching!

Part I

Part II

Life is beautiful if you can’t see it…

Certainly you have heard the statements “it doesn’t matter what life throw at you, what’s important is how you take it and what you make of it” or “when life gives you a lemon make lemonade”. I recently met an intelligent and outgoing lady, whom I will call her J., who is visiting the US with her family. J. lives by those principles whether she realizes or not. She and her family (husband, daughter, and in-laws) came to the US to celebrate her husband’s 40th birthday’s in Vail, Colorado. They were having a very good time together as a family but were not prepared for what came next.

P., J.’s husband, whom I saw in a picture he was in with their 11 months old daughter, is a very good looking young man, full of life. He fell during one of his ski sessions in the beautiful mountains of Vail. Unconscious and unresponsive, he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with  a brain hemorrhage. The family was of course devastated, they all blamed the fall for it, but the doctors found otherwise, they discovered that the brain hemorrhage was a pre-existent condition.

Can we really choose to be happy?

Abraham Lincoln once said that “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Which seems to suggest that we can just make the choice to be happy, but is it that simple?  Below are some quotations that I have compiled to help reflect upon happiness and what it means to you.

1. “Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives. And if things don’t work out, take another shot.” Author unknown

2. “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.” Elizabeth Gilbert

3. “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.” Author Unknown

4. “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” Carl Jung

5. “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” – Wayne Dyer

6.  “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.” Isak Dinesen

7. “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.” Author unknow

8. “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama

9. “Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.” William E. Gladstone

Is your life a right or a gift?

Today’s post was inspired by the Khoutba or sermon given by our Imam last Friday. Reflecting upon it, I realized that I wrote a blog entry last year entitled “In this one life, how do you want to be remembered?” in which I was talking about how short life is, and how many people take it for granted. The Imam’s perspective was, of course, religious but nonetheless very relevant to our mundane life.

Time does not wait for anyone. However you choose to spend it is your choice. What you neglect to do today, at this very moment, is gone, you can not make up for it. The Imam made the point that the number one request for the people who already passed, is to have one more chance to come back to life and do the right thing, do good deeds, to be closer to their Maker. We all know that it is a request that’s never granted. So why don’t we avail ourselves of the opportunities that we have to do good before it is too late?

Why you need to stay motivated

Life is not easy, that’s an understatement. In fact we were never promised that it was, but sometimes we do lose sight of that. Therefore we complain and whine when things do not go our way. When the going gets tough, only the tough get going. That is the reason why you need to have a strong motivation, a strong why, why you do what you do, why you want what you want. Life will knock you down, it is just a matter of time. When it does and your motivation is weak, you will fall on your face and getting up may not be easy. 

Zig Ziglar once said that people often complain that motivation doesn’t last. To which he replied: “neither does taking a bath – that’s why we recommend it is daily”
What is the driving force behind what you do daily! Why are you getting out of bed every morning to go do what you do? Is it to earn a living? Is it to care for your family? Or is it to achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams? Whatever your reason is, just know that it is up to you. What you want is yours for the taking. However, do not lose sight of what motivates you, keep your eyes on the prize if you will. There is no use waiting for something big to happen, start where you are and what you’ve got and that will lead you to something greater.

Forget about new year’s resolutions!

A new year, a new you, right? Will it become reality this time around? Every January 1st, so many people commit to paper new resolutions, only to forget about them by February 2nd. How many times have you decided to do something and did not follow through? How many of your new year’s resolutions did you accomplish last year, or the year before? You don’t need to answer those questions, but you know in your heart what the reality is.  Many people  abandon their goals or break the promises they make to themselves every new year because they become uncomfortable. Comfort is a word cherished by the masses, but what they fail to realize is that success does not live in the comfort zone.

This year instead of making a list of resolutions you won’t follow, try investing in yourself. The most important investment you will ever make, is the one you make in yourself. However until you know and value who you are you will never take that leap. Given the fact that you are the most important person living, why would you take yourself lightly? Your Maker didn’t! He made you unique and in His own image. He gave you all the power you need you to be, do, have your heart’s desires. But you are stopping you, by not investing in yourself, no one else is. You are like a very fertile soil, whatever you sow in that soil, you will reap in great abundance.

When you think of investment in the financial arena, the higher the ROI, (return on investment) the higher the risks. The good news is when you invest in yourself, there are no risks, only rewards. So what are you waiting for and how do you invest in you? You might be waiting for the right time, which is just an illusion. The time is never right, there will always be something that will prevent you from doing something else. You just have to prioritize and start now. You can invest in yourself by reading good personal development books (or listening to them in audio format), learning new skills, attending seminars in your field. The list can go on and on, it all depends on what you want to do with your life.

Whatever the case know this: there are no plateaus in life, you are either climbing or sliding. The only way you can maintain your balance on a bike is by moving, if you stand still you are going to fall, life is no different. Wherever you work, if you refuse to keep up with new skills or new technologies coming out every year, your job is on the line. For instance being a computer literate is no longer a fancy skill it is now a basic necessity in the workplace.

Investing in and developing yourself is the way to the top. Two friends, John and Paul are savvy engineers with Phds, they now have the job of their dreams at a big firm. John is the best employee in terms of attendance and getting the job done. However Paul gets promotion after promotion, leaving his friend at the bottom of the ladder where they started. What is Paul’s secret? He spends his evenings and weekend reading on personal development but also taking leadership and management classes. It is clear that his investment in himself is paying great dividends.

Investing in yourself will set you apart from the masses, but you must be willing to take the road less travelled. It will not be easy, but you have to be willing to do what’s uncomfortable today so that you can enjoy comfort tomorrow. You already have the gift of life, all you need now is to give yourself the gift of development, developing and unleashing the great powers in you, so that you can savor the best that life has to offer.

Question: What advice do you have on new year’s resolutions? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Motivation Wednesday #19: Happy New Year

Wow 2014 is here, it seems like yesterday when we were celebrating new’s year eve for 2013. Thank God for allowing us to be part of another year. I would like to wish all of you, a very happy New Year, may 2014 be a year of Health and Prosperity, Bliss and Abundance. May it also be a year of success in all your undertakings.

Together, let us look toward 2014 with faith. Faith in God, not just hoping that He may make things happen for us, but knowing that He will. Faith in ourselves, because there is limitless power within us, our Maker created us in his own image, therefore we can not be weak. A new year is an opportunity to start fresh with a clean slate. What we do with it is up to us. There will be many resolutions flying around. Should there be one for you let it be to read “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, read it again if you already did. You will get acquainted with the art of “turning small disciplines into massive success”.

Question: What is your advice on how to start off the new year ? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Courage to Have & Live Our Vision

Today’s is a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Babayel Diallo. Baba is an entrepreneur whose ideas on personal development are very powerful and worth sharing. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in psychology. He is a reader and a contributor of this blog. You can follow him on Facebook here.

Both our past and contemporary world is full of leaders that one could emulate for positive model of vision, courage, and perseverance.  The order of these highest human’s virtues were not chosen carelessly, because we truly believe that one must  have a vision for life first, then armed themselves with the courage to follow such vision, and finally persevere at all costs for its attainment.  Such vision and passion for life were laid before us by great leaders such as Martin Luther King who once said: “if a person is not ready to die for something, they are not fit to live”.  Such statement is echoed through the lives of many other great leaders and the one that inevitably comes to mind is Nelson Mandela.

This article is written in honor of the vision, courage, and perseverance of one of the greatest visionary of our times, the late Madiba.  Both during his life and after his death, the question that came to everyone’s mind remains the same: how can someone sacrifice over a quarter century of his life for an ideal?  As humans, the answer to such question could be an existential one for us and resides in the core of human nature to find meaning for our life.

Motivation Wednesday #18

It is ok to ask for help!

For lot of people asking for help makes them a burden, or so they think. It makes them weak, inadequate or incapable, or so they believe. The truth of the matter is asking for help just makes you human, it does not make you a failure, or a parasite. It just means that you are a normal human being, therefore not perfect.  No mater how much knowledge you have, there will always be something you do not know. No matter how much you possess , there is always something that does not belong to you.

Think about it! When you ask for help, you are not the first and you will not be the last. So what is the big deal? The next time you are having a problem asking for help, think of it as you are doing somebody a favor. Yes, a favor! When you ask someone to help you, you are giving them an opportunity to do something good and feel good, a good deed is never lost. You are allowing them to be of service, and we all know by now thru our own experiences that the secret of success is indeed in service.

Motivation Wednesday # 17: Dare to be

Today’s motivation is a piece of poetry that I came across thru my readings. It is from  Steve Maraboli. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

Dare to Be

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.

When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.

When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

When love hurts you, dare to love again.

When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

Dare to be the best you can –

At all times, Dare to be!”

― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free