Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Department of State US - Guest Post By Faizul Khan Tanim, Bangladesh

Faizul Khan Tanim Butpar has been a media specialist for the last 7 years with an emphasis on journalism, communications, leadership and public relations. He studied at London School  of Journalism and currently working with The Daily Independent, Bangladesh. 

The world since 9/11 has changed for ever. Muslims have been looking at their faith more critically than ever before and asking which tenets of Islam are the truth and nothing but the truth. The Western world has changed dramatically as well. They want to know Islam better and reach out to Muslims.

In one such initiative, Mosaic International Summit in the UK, an innovative leadership development organisation, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, which brings together 80 young emerging Muslim leaders from around the world for two weeks in the UK with the aim to develop leadership ability and an aspiration to be an agent of change, and develop understanding of key global issues and inspire positive thinking to address them.

The 2010 Summit included a full and varied program of activities based at Clare College, University of Cambridge and in small delegate groups to embark upon regional study tours to see different projects.

As part of this summit, world renowned personalities and speakers came to Cambridge to deliver speeches, inspire and interact with the delegates to make the world a better place. And one of the speakers was Farah Pandith, who enthralled the audiences with her exceptional motivational speech.

 Faizul Khan Tanim: What is your role in developing ties with the Muslims and how exactly do you help the US department of state?

Farah Pandith: This is a new role in the American history so we are focusing on finding ways that the US government can make sure that we implement president Obama's vision of engagement that he spelled out in Cairo, the vision based on mutual interest and respect. He talked about lots of tools by which we can do that – entrepreneurship, health, technology or science. We basically want to build partnerships and open up dialogues.
Therefore, my job is to work with embassies around the world, whether it is a Muslim majority country or Muslims who live as minority. We want to give respect to everyone around the world understanding that 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet are not all the same.
So each of our embassies are focusing on various communities and finding ways to be respectful and open up dialogues which we haven't had before. Very specifically, Secretary Clinton created this position after the Cairo speech to work on the grassroots level, so, all my work is people to people.
My concern is to make sure we are doing as much as we can to understand the nuances of communities to not look at a country like Bangladesh and conclude this part of the nation is same as another region so all of South Asia is the same.

FKT: As this term has been coined “War on Terror”. Can this terrorism or extremism be put out just by fighting a war?

FP: Every part of the globe has been affected by extremist ideology and the use of violence for political means. Every religion has people who use the religion in the name of terrorist acts. The voices and actions of a few have taken on a global momentum and it is important to understand that our president has been very clear that the United States is not at war with the religion of the far east. He made very clear that he respects Islam and that Islam is part of America.
We have a global effort underway to isolate and marginalize those voices that push forward violent extremism and its incumbent upon everybody whether you are the government of the United States or the government of Bangladesh, Jordan, Indonesia...places where the Bali bombings or the bombings that happened in Amman or in fact the Madrid bombings, in London or in New york...this is not just about one country, its a global ideology that is radicalizing people to do violent things.

FKT: Recently, there have been controversial issues like bans on wearing headscarf in France and building of minarets in Switzerland – now it is of popular consideration that both these countries are allies of the United States. How does the US feel? Will they take any steps like these?

FP: Our constitution is very clear in freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It is a fundamental part of our nation - you have the right as an American to build a house of worship. You have the right to worship freely no matter which religion you belong to. The president talked about this beautifully on September 1 at an Iftar in the White House.
Like any building permit, you have to get permission and the local municipality has to okay your building but considering that sign, you may build your house of worship also you can wear the attire of your religion. This will never change. America's constitution gives those rights and we fundamentally believe that.

FKT: The Obama administration promised a lot, especially to help with the Middle East issue. But after the recent midterm elections, as the Republicans have more control in the house of representatives now, how much can Obama government go forward?

FP: It was a historical moment when in his very first week of office, president Obama appointed an envoy for Middle-East peace and no other presidents in our history has done that so quickly. It is very important for him and his administration to reach a resolution where the Israelis and the Palestinians are living in a conflict side by side.
In selecting George Mitchell to be an envoy who has been working on Middle-East peace, day in and day out, we have made it a priority. The president talked about this in Indonesia that there are setbacks that happened during the negotiations but our eyes are still in the ball and the final goal-line and hopefully we will reach that soon. The commitment to that revolution to that vision of peace in the Middle-East is very strong and the president is determined and we will continue on our effort to negotiate a resolution.

FKT: Muslims around the world believe that the Israeli lobby is very strong, playing significant part in US policies and which is very unfortunate for the Palestinians. How do you see this?

FP: The president and secretary of state has talked very clearly about our bilateral relationship with Israel, an ally and a partner, that is unwavering and will be consistent. I will say, we do and will be collectively working together diligently for the Palestinians to have a state of their own.

This article was first published in The Independent's Weekend Magazine, December 10 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Leadership Development Challenges For The Ummah - the OIC and the Muslim Diaspora - Guest Blog by Arif Zaman, UK

Arif Zaman is a Principal Consultant at the Reputation Institute which avdises companies on their reputation risks. Arif is also Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain's Economic Committee, Advisor to the Commonwealth Business Council and the founder member of the Steering Group of the HRH The Prince of Wales Mosaic Programme. 

With the global economy in turmoil and facing a sustained period of uncertainty – and with trust in institutions, regulators and companies under acute pressure – a fresh focus is emerging on governance and leadership. Simultaneously, how individuals respond will become key as uncertainty and volatility look set to become more commonplace. Furthermore, actions will need to be adapted and adjusted in the light of evolving and fluid conditions. Barack Hussein Obama’s election and style has also shown how leadership and communication are inextricably linked and how within days of being inaugurated one of the hallmarks of the context we are now in is a different tone in terms of respect and understanding, which Obama looks set to lead and sustain with the Muslim world.

As the Muslim world frames its approach, there is a growing realisation that there is work to be done in strengthening – deepening and broadening – leadership capacity and development across the Ummah. Recent initiatives such as those from the Muslim Council of Britain, the World Islamic Economic Forum and HRH The Prince of Wales’ Mosaic Programme reflect this and suggest emerging areas of significant impact.

This article addresses leadership development for the Ummah with a specific focus on business and management. What are the key challenges? Is there an Islamic tradition and worldview of leadership? How does leadership link to corporate governance, (reputational) risk management and diversity? All of these questions are of particular relevance to the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) countries and for Muslim minorities - especially in Europe, North America and India.

The challenges
The challenges for the Ummah are many and varied but perhaps centre on several key areas.
The foremost area is the non-inclusive development – of women as well as men, of communities, countries and regions.

The UN Millennium Development Goals, to which all OIC members are signatories, also set out many socio-economic challenges that have real resonance where many Muslims live whether in South Asia or in Africa.

There is also a need to challenge the empty but dangerous rhetoric and narrative which contributes to the radicalisation of some young people in our community with negative consequences for us all. In this, the Muslim diaspora in the West can perhaps play an increasingly important role.

Moreover exclusion, indifference, racism and gender discrimination limit access to the talent pool to address pressing social problems and improve human security nationally and internationally. Across the Ummah there are future leaders of enormous potential whose talent has not been recognised by those in power – who must be recruited, nurtured and cultivated.

The lack of inclusive leadership narrows the range of resolutions to social problems, limits our creative potential and breeds hatred, violence, indifference and inaction that impede practical progress on the most pressing issues of our time. It must change.

Divinie inspiration
Community-building, concern for social justice within the organization and equality of voice are basic themes of Islam. The values of service, surrendering self, truth, charity, humility, forgiveness, compassion, thankfulness, love, courage, faith, kindness, patience and hope are to be found not only in the Quran, but also in popular Islamic literature and philosophical debates. Since Islam requires a balance between individual influence and social obligations, as well as a balance between material and spiritual needs, the ideal person to lead is perceived to be the most virtuous, and not the wealthiest or most powerful.

In advancing the concept of perfection of the soul as a requisite of leadership, Al-Ghazali, like Ibn Khaldun, suggested that attributes, once rooted in the heart, eventually govern one’s behaviour. Wisdom is, therefore, the outcome of actions through which one has attained knowledge. Al-Ghazali dealt with a variety of subjects in the Nasihat such as the qualities required in kings, the character of ministers and deputies, and intelligence. The Nasihat, or Advice, is part of a larger genre of political writings which dealt with issues of political authority at the time. The line of communication to leadership should be known and continually tested to make sure that leadership is engaged with the organization as a whole. Good rulership and leadership were sacred duties for Al-Ghazali and performing them well brought Allah’s pleasure while doing otherwise brought His ire.

Common failings
How does this translate into addressing the leadership and talent development challenge in the Ummah today? Too many current and future leaders are poorly prepared for their roles.
Some common failings include:-
  • to grow emotionally: the leaders who have high intelligence quotients (IQs) and low emotional quotients (EQs) are often clever and charismatic but destructive.
  • to make creative connections: leaders who see the connections between A and B and B and C rarely see how A and C connect. They miss the more subtle patterns and ones that extend beyond the quarterly reporting period.
  • to empathise: they often look at numbers or surface behaviour and lack an understanding of others’ true needs and aspirations.
  • to manage ego: deadly self-inflation, or hubris, frequently leads to derailment or nemesis.
  • to overcome personal alienation and boredom: these leaders simply stop feeling the exhilaration of learning.
Core areas of emphasis
Companies need to elevate relationship building by developing skills and values that lead to increased empathy and knowledge among all and by measuring and rewarding appropriate relationship-building activities. They also need to acknowledge that feedback and relationship programs are the most effective leadership development strategy.

International trading relationships are undergoing significant change as markets in Asia such as (but not limited to) China and India assume greater importance. At the same time, leadership development has reached a critical crossroads. A number of forces in the international business environment such as geo-politics, emerging economic power bases, ideological diversity, consumer driven technology and the carbon economy are combining and together make necessary a re-think of how we raise future leaders.

For the Muslim world, the challenge of diversity is real – whether for Muslim minorities in the UK and Europe, Muslims in India, low-paid migrant workers from South Asia in the Gulf or for that matter Christians in Pakistan.

To combat racism, inequality and hatred, it is important for leaders to challenge barriers and to bridge the boundaries of difference and distrust. It takes transformational leaders – with the ability to speak for a wide range of people - to accomplish fundamental change. At every level of society, current leaders should be on the lookout for exceptional potential leaders who are diverse and innovative - who do not look, think or talk like them – especially from excluded or marginalised groups. Professional education, especially in business, public policy and the law, must emphasise the necessity of equality and respect, creating ethical leaders who will put a priority on inclusive rather than exclusive decision-making.

Diversity at the basic level is about reaction and compliance. It is now moving from a focus at a second level on equal opportunities and corporate social responsibility, to a third level where leading companies and individuals see it more proactively as being a driver for changing trading relationships and networks amongst companies, countries and regions. Leading companies see the connection between a leader’s personal values, the diversity within their organisation and their individual and corporate reputation.

Leadership development also needs to see corporate governanceat its core as being about creating value from the quality of decision-making. Corporate boards need to be balanced. They should include both outside non-executive and executive members in their governance. Outside members should challenge the executives but in a supportive way. No single individual should be able to dominate decision making, especially in family businesses. It follows that the board should work as a team with outside members contributing to strategy rather than simply having a monitoring or policing role. Boards need to comprise members who possess skills and experience appropriate for the organisation and its strategic direction.

In making decisions, managers must employ critical and creative thinking as well as ethical principles to synthesise the apparently divergent aspects of a situation and avoid the undesirable possibilities that may ensue.

focus on reputation addresses another key business challenge which is of developing and managing organisational reputation. Reputation, responsibility and value creation need to be linked through a focus on understanding stakeholder relationships.
There are certainly other core skills and expertise that leaders need to develop that other best practices emphasize. However, the above areas are key needs for addressing the challenges to business leadership in the Muslim world.

Leadership development is indeed a journey not a destination and professionals in the Ummah can play a key role in creating better leaders and improving the quality of decision-making by establishing a global network of young, successful, Muslims. This way participants can further improve their leadership and professional skills, enhance their career progression and pursue endeavours that are aligned with the interests of the Ummah.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Its Another Thing To Do Something About It ...

To desire is one thing; To do something about it is another thing. Knowing an opportunity is just merely the first step. The real thing comes next - what you do to get it. Most of us just don't go beyond the first step. Taking that initiative is what we most of the time miss out and still remain ignorant of the loss that follows. Ignorance is bliss for those, any ways! A friend recently shared an interesting story that maps well here. 

A story is told of a man who goes to church and prays, 'My Lord! I need a break. I need to win the state lottery. I'm counting on you, my Lord!'. Having not won the lottery, the man returns to church a week later and once again prays, 'My Lord, about that state lottery...I've been kind to my wife. I've given up drinking. I've been really good. Give me a break. Let me win the lottery.'

A week later , still no richer, he returns to pray once again. 'My Lord, i don't seem to be getting through to you on this state lottery thing. I've been using positive self-talk, saying affirmations, and visualizing the money. Give me a break, My Lord! Let me win the lottery'.

Suddenly the heavens open up, white light and heavenly music flood the church, and a deep voice says, 'My son! Give ME a break! Buy a lottery ticket'!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking - Guest Blog by Palwasha Sherin Khan, Pakistan

Palwasha Sherin Khan is currently working as Corporate Responsibility Executive at Telenor Pakistan. Palwasha is an avid reader with a keen interest in CSR, sustainable development and human rights, and passionate about travel and volunteerism.

I have been reading Jack Canfield’s ‘How to get from where you are to where you want to be’, an amazing book that builds upon all I have read and learnt about the power of positive thinking (the theme of Mosaic) and about goal setting, faith in your own abilities, visualization etc. The more one researches into this topic the more facts and stories are uncovered that literally astound you. And the same question arises over and over again within your mind…Why were we not taught this when we were young? How come no one includes this as a part of the school syllabus even now when these theories have become so popular? How much better would we all have fared in life if someone had guided us on living our dreams, never giving up, and that nothing is impossible or too big to achieve?

At the Mosaic Summit this was one of the key principles taught by every leader/speaker. It was a lesson that some of us were familiar with but most of us were hearing for the first time! And what is even more astounding is how people have known about the power of positivity since age…….almost all the successful, brilliant leaders over the years in every field have been using it to their advantage. Napolean Hill wrote about this way back in 1937 in his book ‘Think and Grow Rich’, another recommended read.

What sets a leader apart from millions of ordinary people the world over is the vision of something great…and the will to not rest until that vision has become a reality. How many people go through life in an ordinary way, killing their desire for something better and without the courage to pursue their dreams. I find that there are few things worse than a person who succumbs to remaining ordinary…

Another noteworthy point mentioned by successful leaders is the power of giving and gratitude and how it can work wonders in your life. I myself have learnt in life that if you give your time, your money, your love, your knowledge selflessly to help others, it will always benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. Always! The richest people in the world today realize the value of this; it is not without a reason that you see Bill Gates and Warren Buffet pledging to give away billions! :-)
If I had to teach a child one lesson to survive on in life…it would be this! Believe that you can have or be anything you want in life…and always stay positive! Set the highest goal imaginable for yourself, go after that goal, and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t possible. If this was all you had to start with, you could sail through life, if not soar :-) I had my first volunteer session at a child drop in centre for street children a few weeks back; a first step towards part of a breakthrough goal of my life…and this is the first lesson I taught them! :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GRLI and NET IMPACT Challenge -Shaping Tomorrow Leaders

Do you have an innovative idea? Does your idea make the world a better place? Does it have a far reaching impact? Does it reflect an element of personal and collaborative business leadership? If YES, you can be the GRLI ambassador and participate in GRLI Assembly in Australia being held in March 2011.

You need to be between 18 - 35 years of maturity, a team of 2-3 members, enrolled students or working managers from any where on the globe. That is it. Sounds exciting? Initiate your application and APPLY here. Last date for submissions - 1st December 2010.

Theme of the challenge is “How can next generation leaders contribute to the development of globally responsible leadership?”

Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative is a global multicultural community of action and learning. It operates with a fully transparent and unique governance model with all partners participating. It is legally set up as a Foundation of public interest in Belgium. For more info, checkout GRLI.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Leadership - Our Addiction to an Industry - by Guest Blogger - Iben Ismarson, Indonesia

Iben Ismarson graduated from Lund University Sweden where he studied managing people, knowledge and change. He is experienced in organizational development and holds interest n environment. Currently he is working towards his non profit Eco-Indonesia.

For the last few months, I have owed Jamil, a very kind and respectable friend I met at Mosaic Summer School, to write an article for a collective blog organized by him. The main reason it took so long for me to finally write is because he asked me to write about something that I have almost lost my faith in i.e. ‘Leadership’. The thought of ‘leadership’ is not so intriguing for my brain to kick my fingers to write as the thought of “God’ might not be so appealing for an atheist. I’m not an atheist though; I just cease to believe that such an over-glorified concept like leadership does exist in this world. To be more precise, Our World - Nowadays. . All that’s left for me when I think of leadership is just an image or a perception in people’s mind. It’s the label that we voluntarily ascribed to people, certain people such as some presidents, kings or prince, and if you wonder why are we doing so? Because we want to believe that it does exist.

As a human being, we inherently are thirsty of hope, and we pin our hope to the shoulders of someone with an attractive personality and call them leaders of our society. For me, Leaders are the projection of our fear, insecurity, helplessness as human being, no more and no less than that. When we look with a microscopic lens onto the life of leaders the whole notion of a great and perfect person will quickly melt in the air. They’re just human being, full of flaws, and nonetheless share the same fear, insecurity and helplessness just like those who ascribed the label of leaders to them.

As I write this note, in the next 2 hours Barack Obama will be landing in Indonesia, Halim International Airport for a 24 hrs visit to Indonesia, for the first time as US president. Road blockade, sweeping and sterilization has been done for the last 2 days in critical points of Jakarta to make sure everything’s going well for the visit of U.S No 1 – Their leader (if I can label him so). The fact that Obama spent 4 years of his childhood in Indonesia, made him such a heroic figure for Indonesians, who believe that “he is an Indonesian who succeeded to become the president of the greatest nation on earth”. This idea lives in the mind of Indonesian people, that’s why Indonesians love Obama so much. We are crazy about him, because we want to believe that all Indonesians have the same hope of success. And because of this very reason we choose to neglect the fact that today because of his visit, some traffic jam will occur in several areas near the blockade roads, some people takes more time to reach their offices and schools, some small food stall owners couldn’t do business and be deprived of their livelihood because their operation area is being sterilized. We choose to forget that there’s no substantial change in his policy regarding Palestine-Israel, and troops are still supporting war in Afghanistan. Why? Just because we need to keeps this idea of good and great leaders growing in our head. I would like to create analogy here through Freud’s statement: As religion is opium for the society, so are the leaders and leadership are real opium for the humans and society at large nowadays.

I have a wild hypothesis regarding to our society’s addiction upon the ideas of leadership. Maybe because most of us who are an adult nowadays were once growing up with the idea of some Superman, Batman and Spiderman who can save the world with their special amazing ability, we now want to keep the idea alive in our subconscious mind. We still want that Superman, we want leaders! And some of us even want to be that superman, they want to be leaders. We tend to forget that Superman lives only in a kryptonic imagination of his creator, and that he’s just only a figure created by comic industry.

Leadership is none less than an industry on its own. Go to the bookstores and we can find a special sections filled with thousands of books under the headings of “Leadership”. Each of them will offer you different theories and definition about leadership. They are usually list out hundreds, if not thousands ‘flowery’ words and vocabularies about the traits and attributes of leaders. Based on numerous researches, as they claim, they will undoubtedly map out the path to become leaders. As if those writers had seen a factory that manufactured leaders, they will insist that you can be one if you follow their prescribed path. This ridiculous idea, that there are some magic formulas on how to become an effective leader, made me kind of tired of going to the bookstore or reading books on leadership. I can imagine that it will take me a lifetime efforts to read and grasps all the ideas in those books, and even if I finally do, I think I’m going to ask God for a second life to practice what they have outlined in their books.

And as the industry goes, Universities conduct huge amount of research to back up the notion of leadership. Consultants also reap the fruits of this growing industry through teachings, trainings, workshops and projects in many organizations who want to grow leaders for tomorrow. Companies keep telling the bedtime stories about leaders who grow from the bottom to instill hopes in the mind of their employees that someday might be able to become that big corporate guy at the top: The Leader. The whole industry conspires and grows upon the very basic and fragile need of human being: the need of finding hope and images of success. But if we look at the reality of our society nowadays, despite of these growing crowd and continuous effort to create leaders everywhere we must admit that it still so hard to find and spot true leaders. We are actually lacking them and we always waiting for them. And this absence, again, create even more business for many.
Images of leaders appear everywhere on our TV, websites and probably even at the cover of our books, notepad or posters we hang on our wall. Often they inspire us and make us eager to pursue their paths. We are told to be the leaders of our time and we look up to these images. Maybe some will argues that this may be a good thing, but my take is a little bit different. I believe that such approach will most likely make most of us fall in the trap of trying to become someone else, and forgetting to know and accept who we really are as an individual person. We are focusing our energy too much to have those leadership traits and attributes taught by the books and consultants but we put little attention to understand our own traits and characters that have been shaped by our unique circumstances in our lives. If there is such a thing as leaders in this world, I believe they are the ones who denied to be called leaders. If there’s someone out there who really practice leadership in our society, I believe this person will reject to label what he’s doing as a leader. True Leadership and true leaders are not labeled, they are the essence behind the labels. It is the meaning and the understanding of our experiences and journey as a human, framed in every action of ours where we try to make ourselves and our surroundings a better place. Maybe, just maybe… if we stop thinking, forgetting for a while the idea of leader and leadership, then we can really start to practice true leadership and become a real leader.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Responsibility of Leadership - By Guest Blogger - Amer Qureshi, UAE

Amer Qureshi is an Australian Chartered Accountant, Business Advisor and Author of several books on business and finance. We thank him for generously sharing his views on an important aspect of leadership.

If you are in a management or leadership role which involves leading, motivating and inspiring other people, then you are one of the privileged ones. The opportunity to lead others is one that is not given to too many people.

However, the leadership of others comes with a great deal of responsibility. As a leader, its no longer just about you.

What kind of a Leader are you? What kind of a leader would you like to be?

In my experience, the whole culture of the organization is established by the Leader. Like it or not, every staff member looks closely at how the Leadership team operates and then models that behavior. For the sake of the organization, you better hope that the behavior of the leadership team is worth replication. Too often the leadership team is not willing to take a good look in the mirror and analyse their own short comings, yet they are too quick to point out the faults to their team.

Think about your own approach to work, and see what example you are setting for others. The current generation of employees is not easily impressed by the “do as I say” approach. During the course of my work, I have had the opportunity of working with many CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Managers as their Advisor and Consultant. In our discussions I am often told about the staffing issues, the lack of responsibility amongst the staff, the lack of professionalism and ownership. Often when I get more involved with an Organisation, it becomes apparent that the staff are simply following the lead of the senior management team. The leaders are not setting the right example and nor are they providing the right leadership for the team.

In order to become an effective leader, its important to take a good look at your own self, identify your own weaknesses and to set the right example for your team.

Think about the following for a few minutes:

1 - Do you feel you demonstrate strong values, ethical standards and personal integrity?
2 - Do you possess empathy and self-awareness?
3 - Do you nurture positive internal and external relationships and professional networks?
4 - Do you empower people?Is teaching, coaching and mentoring people a high priority for you?
5 - Are you contributing to the development of a new generation of leaders in your organization?
6 - Do you treat mistakes made by your staff as coaching opportunities?
7 - Do you establish and support high quality work standards?
8 - Are you able to handle stressful situations at work and resolve conflicts between team members effectively?
9 - Do you have an entrepreneurial mind set?
10 - Do you look for creative solutions to solve difficult problems within the organization?
11 - Do you consider yourself to be customer focused?
12 - Do you deliver value to stakeholders?

Leadership of others is a privilege and one that should not be taken lightly, as you have the opportunity to add immense value to the professional lives of others. Long after these people have left you, they are likely to remember with great fondness all the good things that they were able to learn.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One Can Know Victory, And Yet Not Achieve It

Sun Tzu's legendary "The Art of War" has influenced the modern day culture, politics and strategy to a greater extent. A great military strategist and mathematician, his theories have proved out to be effective and the book considered the masterpiece on leadership, strategy, managing conflicts and winning battles. Paulo Coelho extracts an excerpt out of "The Art of War" and reproduced it in his "Inspirations".

Master Sun Said:

Of Old, the skillful warrior first ensured his own invulnerability; Then he waited for enemy’s vulnerability.
Invulnerability rests with Self, Vulnerability with the Enemy.

The skillful warrior can achieve his own invulnerability; But he can never bring about enemy's vulnerability.
Hence the saying, “One can know victory, and yet not achieve it”.

Invulnerability is Defense, Vulnerability is Attack.
Defense implies lack, Attack implies abundance.

A skillful defender hides beneath the ninefold earth; A skillful attacker moves above the ninefold heaven.
Thus they achieve protection and victory intact.

To foresee the ordinary victory of the common man is no true skill.
To be victorious in battle and to be acclaimed for one’s skill Is no true skill.
To lift autumn fur is not true skill.
To see sun and moon is no perception.
To hear thunder is no quickness of hearing.

The skillful warrior of Old won easy victories.
The victories of the skillful warrior are not extraordinary victories.
They bring neither fame for wisdom, nor merit for valor.
His victories are flawless.

His victory is flawless because it’s inevitable. He vanquishes an already defeated enemy.
The skillful warrior Takes his stand on invulnerable ground; He lets slip no chance of defeating the enemy.
The victorious army is victorious first and seeks battle later.
The defeated army Does battle first and seeks victory later.
The skillful strategist cultivates the way and preserves the law; Thus he is master of victory and defeat.

In War there are five steps; Measurement, Estimation, Calculation, Comparison and Victory;

Earth determines Measurement,
Measurement determines Estimation,
Estimation determines Calculation,
Calculation determines Comparison,
and Comparison determines Victory;

A victorious army is like a pound weight; In the scale against a grain;
A defeated army is like a grain in the scale against a pound weight;
A victorious army is like pent-up water crashing a thousand fathoms into a gorge.

This is all a matter of forms and dispositions.

Monday, October 11, 2010

If Success is Relative, What’s Your Mantra?

Ever thought of how you define success for yourself? Try it. Search your soul. You will get to understand yourself better once you come up with the answer. I bet.

Here is a sample I dug out from my old notes, the way John O’ Brien defines it.

“To Laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Sounds inspiring? Feel like developing your own definition? See this interesting compilation of suggestions. But please, be realistic, don't copy, define it from your heart.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"My Journey With Mosaic" - By Guest Blogger Farhiya Mohamed Farah - Somalia

Farhiya Farah has a keen interest in development and is currently working with Mercy USA for Aid and Development, an NGO based in Kenya with operations in Somalia.

I wasn’t expecting it. The call that is…..I was selected to attend an interview that would determine if I could attend Mosaic international summit 2010 as one of the delegates. A lot was happening, professionally and personally, I knew I wanted to do something different but did not know exactly what or how to do it. Thank God for the email a friend sent, about mosaic and I just applied not knowing what the outcome would be.

The rest went smoothly, in a matter of weeks I was in the UK for the summit but honestly, I did not know what to expect. People from 17 countries are going to attend! I thought to myself, How will it go? What will they say? Will I feel out of place? Alhamdulillah (thank God) all the worries and doubts were just in my head. I felt at home, literally, on arrival, everyone was just so friendly. All the 80 people gathered seemed genuine in wanting to know who you were, where you came from, what you guys ate back home etc.

The summit was headed by a team of very friendly and knowledgeable people who saw to it that we were well cared for and that the summits aims were well communicated to us. Different recognized leaders, who have excelled in their respective fields, came and gave us their take on life, leadership, global issue awareness like poverty etc. Challenging conversations, encouraging speeches, motivating revelations were just part of the exciting journey in the mosaic summit. Inspirational leaders like: ·
- Stuart Lang, who spoke about tradition and its importance and how it doesn’t hamper progress, ·
- Farah Pandith whose projects have seen Muslims all over being empowered, and who mentioned the importance of luck and that we should think broadly and not sit still. ·
- Sir fazle Hassan Abed whose idea of a small scale relief and rehab programme has seen him build one of the largest NGOS in the world, who indeed took the point home, “ small and beautiful become big and effective, whatever you do, do it well.’’ ·
- Stuart Duff and Prof. Binna Kandola, who took as through the leadership journey and the different models of leadership. They addressed to us the importance of coaching and how it’s necessary in unlocking a persons potential in order to maximize their performance. They brought so much to us as the delegates, and interestingly so they still do, through the models of development plan that kandola sent us recently. ‘’Empathy as a characteristic in a leader yields a lot of productivity’’ Prof. Binna Kandola ·
- Founder of Islamic relief, Dr. Hany El Bany OBE shared his amazing journey as a humanitarian and shared the different trials and tribulations he went through to ensure that he has reached as many people in need as possible. He reminded us of our duty as Muslims which is to help the poor and that together when united we can make poverty history….’’don’t chase money, don’t chase targets, invest in employees’’- ·
- Mrs. Anjum Anwar ‘’If we do not speak with each other, we will not demystify facts.’’ She spoke on the importance of being firm in one owns belief in that only then is it easier to relate with others about who we are and what we stand for. And that it’s only when you have positive thinking when you will be comfortable in someone’s arena. ·
- Prof. Mike Hardy ‘’we have to bring people together because they already are together’’ He spoke on the need to understand each other and learn to live with each other. ·
- Chris chivers ‘’those leaders who do not want to engage in dialogue are weak’’ ·
- Will Day, ‘’Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’’

After the amazing speeches we embarked on study tour groups where we saw first hand how communities have come together in addressing several social and economical issues that face them on a day to day basis, e.g. curbing antisocial behaviors, and also we saw how they looked into other societies problems and how they tried looking for a solution to their problems e.g. Helping in eradicating malaria in the developing countries and assist those with water problems by fundraising for water points and bore holes. This selflessness and dedication to helping mankind was so inspiring and as if that was not enough we were given the opportunity of a lifetime where we met the founder of Mosaic, The prince of Wales, Prince Charles. He showed us or at least most of us, another side of world leaders. We saw a caring, dedicated and concerned individual who genuinely wanted integration between different faiths in the universe and who wanted to see better living conditions in the world. He wanted the youth to own there time, to stop sitting down as other people tackled their problems and to see to it that all people around us had access to equal care, be it education, social needs or economic.

That was enough motivation that left a ray hope in most delegates, everyone like me, wanted to go back home and try and be an agent of change, try and get a solution especially where there’s an obvious problem. Of course it wasn’t all work and no play! I had a great time with some of the delegates walking around Cambridge, and the almost disastrous boat ride in Cambridge! I mean, what were you doing jamil! At least Tabinda sorted us out :) oh and the way John tried to help us but to no avail….I mean we looked so confused, that when we made it back, the guests outside that hotel actually cheered for us! That should tell you they were sure the boat would sink! But the most memorable for me was the visit to Old Trafford in Manchester! Historic! I miss my group, the amazing and ever smiling group leader Lina Gomaa, Memoona with her intelligent and always on point thoughts!, Shahrizad, her calm and collected nature that always spoke volumes, Shafiullah whose love for his country and his family in particular was evident in his talk, of course the leaders of today! Anas and his counterpart Yavuz! Ria the new bride, Arkan, so easy to talk to and quick to give his thoughts, all the time we met as a group, the conversations and activities never had a dull moment! ( hope I haven’t left any one out) I miss all of you, really, though thousands of miles apart, I will always remember those beautiful faces and may Allah guide and protect all of you always! I left the summit with so much love for my religion Islam, I can’t explain it, but I felt that my faith was strengthened Alhamdulillah. The amazing energy, the positive ideas, are what I truly miss, but I believe that enthusiasm that I had with me, I will not let it die, inshaAllah I’ll put it to practice…doesn’t matter how long it will take me. Things maybe difficult to implement, especially with no form of support around me, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘’Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’’

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Old Wine In A New Bottle" - By Guest Blogger - Rizwan Sharif, Bangladesh

Rizwan has vast experience of public relations, client service, branding and CSR while working with corporates in Bangladesh. Currently he is pursuing his Masters in International Public Relations from Cardiff University, UK.

After much procrastination and delay, I finally sat down with my laptop in the conducive Cardiff University dorm to retrieve memories. Memories that are fast moving away with the unstoppable pace of time but have always been and will always remain one of the most precious ones in my life. Yes, I am talking about the Mosaic Summit 2010 that had brought all of us together and broke the barriers of borders and time. It’s been more than two months, but seems like yesterday that we all laughed together and shared ideas that could change us and that can change this world!

So what shall I talk about? As I continue writing, so many thoughts float in my head and I am being so deeply lost in memories of the Summit. But let me start with some of my experiences and then I will tell you the story of old wine getting into a new bottle!

When I first came to know about Mosaic Summit, I did not take it very seriously and I am sure I am not the only one here who thought like that! I won’t mention the names but I can see some faces smiling if they are reading this. For me it was more like taking a paid Euro tour and I was equally confused about the outcomes of the Summit. But I was wrong. My perception of the Summit changed pretty fast within the first couple of days and it surprised me more to see how quickly all of us mingled well with each other. A sense of responsibility to do something started strengthening and I could feel the urge to learn from the Summit and most importantly from other delegates. I should thank Ahmed (Bahrain) and Hossam (Egypt) for being so patient in answering my stupid questions in the late hours at night. I should also mention Afrah (Bahrain) for all the little walks at night and silly talks that made both of us laughing and also to set our goals in life. She is a great friend!

Another thing that I find worth mentioning here is that knowledge of my own religion. I have always been a Muslim by inheritance and not by practice. I do not blame my family, friends or my parents being so liberal to give me the freedom to live my life the way I want to. But I always felt that I may be doing something wrong. And it was the Mosaic Summit that perhaps brought me closer to my religion and to people whose faithful dedication to Islam made me question my actions. I was again surprised and felt bad about the way I perceived religion and faith. The summit helped me understand more and opening my eyes though I can never be a perfect Muslim but a big thanks to all of you for making me realize things that I never realized before.

I will wrap it up by saying that for the last four and a half years, I have been a successful corporate figure and life has always been very easy. Thanks to the kindness of the Almighty. All I concentrated was on how to get more business, how to be more rich and popular and all the materialistic things in the world. But the Mosaic experience was profound and helped shape up my views on life. It helped me realize that there is more to give than to take. I looked at the speakers at Cambridge and during our study tours and felt that there is so much to do for others and time is running out so fast. I felt we are nothing but travelers in this world and when we are gone, we leave behind memories that are remembered, loved and cherished by so many people. Live a life that is worth living and mentioning even after you have left this world. I felt that my thoughts are being reborn and reshaped in so many new directions that I was previously unaware. I know I will not like to revert back to corporate world again but rather dedicate most of the time for others who need me to stand next to them wherever they need my help. With all that, I wish every success to all my Mosaic friends and apologize if I have ever hurt or offended any of you and that is purely unintentionally. May Allah bless us all in our journeys.