Since I was a kid and I was always dreaming of becoming old. You know this funny period in our teenage lives when we were always trying to pretend that we were older than our real age, or even when we told the people who don’t know us that we are older than our real age? As if I was in a race against time, trying to get old and to ‘’grow up’’ as soon as possible, to enjoy more sense of freedom as well as respect from the people around me only because I am ‘’not young’’ anymore.
Time passed by very fast and suddenly my wish became true, and I found myself in the twenties, and I said to myself: ‘’now I will enjoy freedom and respect’’, but after my first trial my imaginations collapsed. I discovered that becoming old can never grant you the respect of the people around you. And as soon as I started breathing the air of freedom, I found that all that I did is replacing a small cage called school or university, with a big cage called corporate life where your responsibilities are far more than those during your teenage time. And the fantastic picture which was painted in my imagination started to fade away.
So again I said to myself: ‘’ok, maybe the age was not the factor which can grant me respect, but who said that working in a big multinational company and having a good title will not?’’. But after working for several multinational companies, I discovered that I was again wrong.
After several years of ‘’enjoying’’ my new life as a ‘’grown-up’’ person and the privileges package which accompany it, and during a day that I was spending with a relative of mine, something happened. I was sitting with this old relative discussing something when some people came and asked him to resolve a conflict which occurred between them. I kept observing from far away, and then I discovered that he spent most of his time listening to the first person first, and without one word of interruption, then he made the same with the second person. Finally, after hearing both of them, he said his opinion, and he was capable in some minutes of resolving the conflict with both of them leaving his house convinced.
When those two friends of my relative left the house, I went to him, and I started asking him in a very inspired manner: ‘’How did you do this? First, how were you so patient to hear both of them without interrupting? Second, how did both of them accept your opinion simply like that? And……’’ before I continued he interrupted me by saying: ‘’Mohamed, do not be so excited, I will answer all your questions one after another’’, then he told me: ‘’If you want to be respected from the people around you and earn their trust, and if you want them to accept your opinion or judgment, then you need to have two things: soft skills and wisdom. And Wisdom means having enough knowledge and experience to know what to say and to judge things correctly while the soft skills are about how you say it and interact effectively with people. And the idea is simple; if the people do not trust your knowledge then they will never accept your judgment’’.
After I left the wise man, I discovered that this discussion drove me to start searching for the skills and knowledge that I need to acquire through my life to reach what I want to achieve.
And I started my journey by searching for books to learn from, because I am a firm believer that reading books can save you a lot of time and can increase your knowledge tremendously, because it allows you to tap into different other ways of thinking, as well as other people’s thoughts and experiences that maybe you will not have the chance to gather through your lifetime journey. So I took this as my starting point.
Finally, after trying to apply what I read in my daily life, and after living in different locations around the world as well as dealing with different cultures, I discovered the three most important cornerstones in the personality triangle (from my point of view). I am sharing them with you in the next few lines as well as the books that I used as my starting point:
1-Mindset: It’s all about your attitude and how you see things. And how you see things is essential because it directly affects your decisions and judgment. In the end, what’s the benefit of winning one million euros as an example while you do not have the millionaire mindset and do not know how to invest or grow yourself and your money?
If you want a book which can help you grow your mindset, then I recommend Darren Hardy’s book ‘’The Compound Effect’’. This book helped me improve how I see the big picture and how I act in my daily life.
2-Habits: your habits and daily behavior defines your outcome and shape your future. And a habit is a routine of behavior that is regularly repeated and tends to occur unconsciously. So this means, that if you have a dream or a goal, and your unconscious behavior is not consistent with the actions that you should take to reach this goal, then you will not reach it. Respectively this means that to reach a specific goal, you may need to drop a bad habit and form another new good one instead.
I read lots of books and articles trying to find some practical information about how to form new habits. And during one day I saw a book which attracted me because of its title. This book is called ‘’Mini-Habits’’. I bought the book, and I started reading, and I found it very interesting and useful from the first page because of the technique explained in it.
So if you want a book which can help you change your behaviors and make them consistent with the end goal that you want to achieve, then I recommend you this book.
3-Soft Skills and Conflict Management: I wrote these two points together because from my point of view they are connected and continuing each other.
Soft Skills are about how are you able to communicate with others around you, build connections with them and finally communicate your message in a clear, understandable way. On the other hand, conflict management is about understanding that people are different with different opinions, and this can sometimes lead to conflicts. So conflict management is mainly about how to handle those conflicts before they even occur.
Two important books which were a good starting point for me to learn about soft skills and conflict management were Dale Carnegie’s book ‘’how to win friends and influence people’’, and ‘’Have a nice conflict’’ book which was written by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson, and Kent Mitchell.
During reading the books mentioned above, and while working on growing the skills mentioned above, I found some words and phrases that I did not understand. This triggered me to search more and opened for me a big door of endless information.
And the comic thing is that I discovered that life is a never-ending process of learning, and that the more that I found information, the more that I became more humble because I understood that I ‘’do not and will not’’ know everything and that I will need to work hard on myself each day until my life ends in order to keep improving and learning. As a result of this, I challenged myself, and I set a target to learn something new each day.
Are those skills that I mentioned above are the only skills that I need to proceed forward? Definitely not. Those are just a starting point, and I am sure that the more I will move forward, and the more that I will learn, the more I will discover that I miss other skills that I need to acquire. The most important thing is to keep believing that no matter how old I am, and no matter how far I reached in my career, there is always something to learn and a possibility of becoming better. And that the day that I will stop learning is the day I can declare that my life has ended theoretically.
What about you? Share your experience and the name of a book which affected you positively.