not improve yourself without effort. You must make the intention to be a better person and take action to achieve your goals.
Life is not chance. Everything that occurs is pre-destined. You however do not know your predestination. You have to work
hard, search for it, use your will power and choice that Allah gave you. Accept personal responsibility for mistakes. Do not
blame others for your problems. Learn from your past experiences, positive and negative. Good manners or experiences should
be reinforced while bad ones should be avoided.
(a) ULTIMATE OBJECTIVES
Keep in mind always
the three ultimate objectives: (a) the pleasure of Allah, ridha al laah & marudhaat
al llaah[i], (b) wisdom, hikmah, and (c) success, falaah.
The real and ultimate success is that of the hereafter[ii].
Happiness is not
an objective in life. Pursuing happiness can be running after an illusion since happiness is not definable. The realistic
objective is contentment and satisfaction with yourself and what you have. However contentment should not be understood in
a negative sense of refusing to take active steps to improve some of the negative things in your character and behavior.
(c) NEEDS VS WANTS
Learn to distinguish
between what you want and what you need. Wants are emotional; needs are rational. Always choose needs over wants. Be realistic.
Do not live in a dream world. Dreaming is good in motivating you and developing your creative thinking. Dreaming has limits
if it obscures correct perception of reality. Never entertain illusions about your strengths and weaknesses. Never deceive
yourself. Never allow others to deceive you by praising you and giving you attributes you lack. Such persons are your true
enemies. Confront your weaknesses and do not deny them. Do something about correcting them
You can not succeed
on your own; this is a world of interdependence. You must learn to net-work and collaborate with others in synergistic relations.
Good manners and behavior are necessary for positive and meaningful interaction with people. You need to learn to respect
and protect the rights of others so that your rights may also be respected. Every action, behavior, or habit has consequences.
Always consider and think about the long-term consequences before you speak or act.
Develop a positive
attitude. Be optimistic and develop positive behavior. The world is essentially good and the hereafter much better. There
is more good than evil. You can always succeed in the long-run if you do not become pessimistic and give up. Look at problems
of life in perspective. What may look big may not be so in the long run. You may hate today what turns out to be good tomorrow.
See and emphasize the positive in any problem.
You should consider
yourself as living in the future. Life on earth is just a transition. Always prepare for the future (both what remains of
your life on earth and life in the hereafter). A futuristic outlook will enable you to deal with setbacks of life. You should
always know that the future could always be better.
2.0 TAKING CHARGE
(a) Assertiveness: Assertiveness is a feeling of self-worth in dealing with others. It
involves a lot of self-control. Non-assertive people may end up being influenced by a bad environment or they may make wrong
choices that they regret later. Non-assertive persons can not interact well with others because they can not state their opinions
or advance their interests or the interests of the group they belong to. A non-assertive attitude becomes in the long run
a feeling of inferiority that could be exploited. Non-assertive persons may feel so bad about themselves that they eventually
react in socially destructive ways. Non-assertive persons are easily influenced by bad company and end up committing evil.
Assertiveness is not aggression but is closely related. Do not cross the line between the two. You can show anger without
being bad. Learn to state your opinion without being hostile. Learn to defend your position without being defensive.
(b) Self-control: Being assertive is learning to take control.
A person who has self-control can stand up to the temptations of shaitan. The following
are needed for you to take control of your self: self- confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, self-control, self-discipline,
(c) Self-discipline: Self discipline is needed for success. Control
your whims and emotions. Stickability is a good trait; do not accept defeat easily. Act according to long-term and not short-term
interests. Do not act impulsively. Follow your head and not your emotions. Trust your instincts.
2.2 SELF CONFIDENCE and SELF ESTEEM
(a) Self-confidence: Self-confidence is to know yourself, your
strengths and weaknesses, to be comfortable with what you are, and to be psychologically secure. Children are born with a
lot of self-confidence. They lose it as they grow through various negative experiences. Others’ views and comparing
one self with others are among the causes of loss of self-confidence. True confidence is expressed and shows quietly. Many
inconfident people make noise to hide their inner weakness.
(b) Self-esteem: You can raise your self-esteem by being secure
psychologically about yourself. You must accept and appreciate what you are. You have to love yourself and know that whatever
Allah endowed you with is the best for you. Look around you and identify people you admire. Try to emulate the qualities you
admire in them. Stay with good people who radiate self-esteem and confidence. Congratulate and encourage yourself on any progress
you make in emulating good behavior. Learn to compliment and congratulate others who have traits and behaviors that you admire.
This will keep you from negative attitudes and diseases like envy and will push you along on the road to developing your own
self-esteem. Avoid people with bad character and behavior. Others who do not know will consider you to be one of them. It
is easier for a big mountain to move than for bad character to change. Do not repeat a mistake. Remember that character is
consistent. Bad behavior is rarely an accident. It can be forgiven but can not be erased
self-improvement are very important for the individual. They are in essence taking charge of your life, relying on yourself
in solving problems, and taking the initiative to improve. It is only emotionally mature individuals who can rely on themselves.
Dependency is childhood. Self-help and self-reliance should however not be taken to the extreme. There are occasions when
you need help and must have networks for providing this help. Refusing to ask for help when needed is a cause of stress and
is not wise. Economic self-reliance is necessary in order not to be a burden on others and also to assert your self-esteem.
However the need to keep your self-esteem should never make you refuse to seek help when you actually need it. A vital distinction
must be made between being childish and child-like. Childishness is dependency and inability to achieve emotional maturity,
self-confidence, and self-esteem. Child-like on the other hand is a very positive attribute. It emphasizes being explorative,
taking initiative, being bold to experiment, being optimistic, and not feeling defeated or cornered. These behaviors are found
in children and tend to annoy parents. They are very useful for the adult. The mistake is for children to grown up too soon
or for adults to regress to childhood in the way they use these attributes.
2.4 PROJECTING A POSITIVE IMAGE
Projecting a positive
image helps build credibility and leads to success. We are not talking about a phoney image that is discovered sooner or later
with disastrous consequences. The image must be backed up by real achievements. It is better to under promise but over deliver.
Perceptions are very strong determinants of behavior. You have to keep away from negative perceptions and cultivate positive
ones. Two individuals looking at the same reality have different perceptions because of their prior life experiences. Always
evaluate yourself. The perceived image may not be the intended image. The difference is crucial. Self- confidence and self-discipline
are ingredients of a positive image. You have to start by discovering your strengths and enhancing them. You have to acknowledge
your weaknesses and compensate for them. A positive image needs maintenance by regular self-evaluation and taking corrective
action where needed. A positive image must be maintained in difficult times; this will require extra effort. Keeping company
with people who have a positive self-image will help you develop your own image. Positive thinking is contagious; it spreads
to those around. Your communication with others (letter, fax, telephone, and conversation ) is an exercise in image projection.
Physical appearance (clothes, hair, cleanliness) also project image. Dress well but not for arrogance. Good manners, correct
etiquette, and sensitivity enhance the image. Your voice, handshake, smiles, body language, and eye contact can make or unmake
your image. Your posture and manner of walking can tell a lot about you. Solving your personal problems and keeping out of
depression, anxiety or stress help maintain your positive self-image.
to develop an entrepreneurial attitude. This requires developing initiative, optimism, and self-confidence in order to bolster
your creativity. Take calculated risks. Look for opportunities and exploit them. Perseverance and determination are necessary
for continued success.
[i] (Qur’an 2:207, 2:265, 3:162, 3:173, 4:114, 5:2, 5;3, 5:16, 9:21, 9:62, 9:72,
9:96, 9:100, 9;109, 19:55, 20:84, 20:109, 21:28, 24:55, 27:19, 39:7, 46:15, 47:28, 48:18, 48:29, 53:26, 57:20, 58:22, 59:8,
[ii] (Qur’an 3;185, 4:13, 5:119, 6:16, 7:8, 9:20, 9:72, 9:89, 9:100, 9:111, 10:64,
23:111, 24:52, 33:71, 37:60-61, 39:61, 40:9, 44:51-57, 45:30, 48:5, 59:20, 61:12, 64:9, 78:31-35, 85:11)