It’s been quite a long time since I wrote any posts on my blog, but there are certain things that can’t be kept silent for too long. This is a message of gratitude to an unsung hero.
I’d like you to meet Youssef Aziz,
a dear friend of mine, an activist, an a true unsung hero in several NGOs I’m engaged with.
This gentleman works behind the scenes, does double the effort than most, has the kindest of hearts and a brilliance that is rare to find.
Topping all of that, he is down to earth and a true believer in the values of the organizations he joins/founds/advises.
What triggered my post is the fact that this week…one of the dear NGOs to his heart, and mine, has been officially shut down. It wasn’t shut down by force or by external factors but by an unanimous Board decision, including Mr. Aziz. The choice was tough for all of us, but I know for a fact that it is by far the toughest on him than any of us.
In spite of all that, he’s been orchestrating the process, handing all the necessary documents and coordination to ensure a smooth and successful transitioning for the status of the organization.
But his efforts, input and value is not just about this NGO, but rather for the past 9 years I’ve known him in, he’s been the most trustworthy, consistent and resourceful individual in my volunteering experience.
So to you Youssef I want to say, your work shows when the organizations you’re involved in succeeds in whatever decisions it takes. To you I say, and bluntly, if it wasn’t for you, at least 4 NGOs that you and I know of/volunteer with/advised, wouldn’t have succeeded or existed. So what you’ve done, is setup the infrastructure for those NGOs to be built on, serve others and grow.
On my behalf, and undoubtedly on the behalf of many others, I say thank you for who you are, what you’ve done and what you continue to do day in day out.
With every single day passing by, I’m realizing the importance of having a good life balance as an essential component of a healthy existence on this planet.
By life balance, I mean a balance between all the things that try to fill our day including the following items:
- Academia/Personal Development
- Health & Sports
Now I can’t say I’ve found the perfect balance yet, but I definitely am way better off than a year or two ago, and I believe slow progress is way better than a stand-still.
My humble advice to you my dear reader is to actually identify your priorities from the above list (or maybe even add/remove some). Accordingly, based on your priorities, compare how you actually spend your time and energy with the priorities you set. If your priorities and reality seem to be well aligned, then I congratulate you for having your life balance. If not, then by now you know what you need to invest more of your time and energy on. It’s that simple! 🙂
As a closing note, I wish you the best of luck in finding your life balance but keep in mind it’s a road you stay on, not a destination you’d reach.
Now that we’ve embarked on 2014, and after spending some time reflecting on how everything went in 2013 in my life, I’d like to share some of the milestones and things that were important to me in 2013 and some of those that I have planned for 2014.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when we share and write what we have achieved, we value it more, and when we do the same for what we dream and plan of, we somehow become more psychologically motivated and committed to achieve it. So I do recommend you share the same, whether here as a comment on this blog posts or with your network somehow.
So here it goes:
· Read A Lot: Just a quick estimate, I read around 3 articles daily on topics of interest, each ranging from 1 to 5 pages. So if I take an average, I read about 1,000+ different topics in 2013 alone.
· Learned to Let Go: For someone like me who likes to stay on top of things and feeling in-control, it was a tough journey. But nevertheless, I did manage to let go of some personal relations, roles in NGOs and the actual need to be in-control of so many things.
· Spent More Quality Time: Yes, this was a key goal for me to have a more balanced life in 2013, and I am glad to say I truly value the quality time I spent with family, friends and loved ones.
· Traveled to New Places: In 2013 alone, I traveled to new cities I never visited before and are London, Oxford, Cappadocia, Mersin, Khartoum and Dubai.
· Slept More Daily: As of early December, I managed to sustain a 6~8 hour sleep per day (up from just 3~4 hours previously).
· Got Promoted: Through my work at CMCS Lebanon, I got promoted to the position of Deputy Operations Manager and will be starting my new role as of January 2014.
· Coordinated A New Program at AUB-CEC: Also through CMCS Lebanon and in collaboration with AUB CEC, I’m proud to say I played a key role in launching and coordinating the Region’s 1st Project Management Postgraduate Diploma. But to be honest, team work is everything, and the team I work with at CMCS and AUB are the ones who truly made it all happen.
· Trained A Lot: Throughout 2013 I gave more than 10 training courses at AUB and others, while I’ve also introduced a new certificate based training course about Business Analysis called Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) which I’m also the only certified professional in Lebanon till now.
NGOS & Volunteer Work:
· Transitioned Out of Aie Serve: For 7 years, I served as a co-founder and president of Aie Serve and it was about time to let a new leadership come in place and shine. So I’m proud to say that we successfully did an elections where a whole new Board was elected and I transitioned to become one of the organization’s Advisors.
· Revived Global Shapers Beirut Hub: In December, leaders of the Global Shapers Community from the World Economic Forum visited Beirut, and with their support and some Shapers in Beirut, I’m glad to say that I’m playing a role in reviving the previously dormant Beirut Hub. Thus 6 new Global Shapers were recruited in December.
· Launched A Youth Project at PMI Lebanon Chapter: With the support of my fellow PMI Lebanon Chapter Board, we’re launching a new Project Management for Youth Initiative in collaboration with PMI- Educational Foundation.
· Partnered with CSR AL Ahli: Another highlight for me is making a partnership between Aie Serve and CSR Al Ahli Group to provide Mentors for CSR in Action program to give Social Innovators who are working on serving the community the needed support to succeed.
· Coached, Mentored & Trained Youth: Throughout the year, I realized I enjoy and become full of energy when I am training or coaching or mentoring youth, and thus I spent hours and days with 10s of them in training workshops, meetings, sessions and retreats.
· Take Care of My Body: A healthy mind is in a healthy body they say, thus I’ll be focusing taking better care of my own body whether through sports, a healthier diet or just simply less stressful schedule.
· Sustain Balance: Keep on the sleeping habits, take more vacations and continue spending quality time in abundance.
· Keep Reading: With my current reading habits I guess I’m on the right track.
· Excel At Managing Operations: Now that my new role involves working in Operations Management, I’ll be going the extra mile to learn more about it and excel at it.
· Expand Training Regionally: Now that CMCS has some stellar training courses and workshops, it’s prime time to take them regionally in 2014.
· Start My Masters: I’ve got my eye on 2 Master Programs, and will be registering in one of them before the end of year if God wills. Eventually, it’s about time I proceed my academic growth after acquiring 3 professional certificates in the past 3 years which are PMP, CBAP and GPM-b.
NGOs & Volunteer Work:
· Support Aie Serve’s Growth & Sustainability: With a new Board in place and a Strategic Planning Retreat scheduled early January, I’ll be doing all I can to ensure the new Board and all Aie Servians continue their work properly, grow and enjoy the journey.
· Grow Global Shapers Beirut Hub: Now that we have a bigger team, January will be the month when the Hub will do their first event.
· Transition Out of More NGOs: New challenges arise every now and then and in 2014, I’ll make sure to take on some of those, but to do that, I’ll need to drop of some of the current load. In this context, I’ll be transitioning out of my role in PMI Lebanon Chapter and Alumni UNESCO Club.
· Building A Regional Network for Rule of Law: Through being a John Smith Trust Fellow, I’ll be working with other fellows all around the region from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain, to build and institutionalize a network of chapters in each country to promote and work on rule of law.
That is about it for the time being, and I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps got inspired by a few things here and there.
I’d really like to get to know your reflections on 2013 and your plans for 2014! 🙂
Building on my humble knowledge, I get to have some observations and analysis of the world I live in. So here’s one for the day: Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon!
My aim here is not to push you to lose hope on Arabs progress, but rather trying to shed light on certain elements of why are the Arab nations still way behind in terms of technology, economy, civil-rights, and politics, just to name a few.
Yes, I’m an Arab and I sadly got to the conviction that Arabs won’t rise up anytime soon. If you observe how nations grew into world powers you will realize that most of them have two main factors in common: Institutionalization and care for public good. Apparently, those two factors are missing (either one or both) from almost all Arab countries!
We’re mostly an individualistic nation: a nation formed of hundreds of millions of individuals who want to shine individually rather than as a nation. Collaborating together for the common good in a well-structured and institutionalized manner is something perhaps beyond the short-term wins that those individuals perceive.
We dislike systems, processes, policies, procedures, long term goals and the common good when it contradicts with personal gain and hence we try to avoid them as much as we could! So if we can avoid filling a form, not follow a procedure, rule, or policy (or at least get away with it), take a shortcut, or go for a quick win, we’d will go for it.
Examples of what I mean here can be as small as not standing in line whenever there is a queue to not stopping on a red light or following the road signs. It can also be as major as politicians not acting as part of an institution with a system, but rather acting like heads of mafias, bending and changing the rules, the governmental institutions and policies to fit their own needs and desires. The bigger problem is not that they do it, but rather no one actually holds them accountable for what they do. Many people accept such a behavior and thus the issue exacerbates with time. Even with the so-called “Arab Spring” and the people rising to demand for their rights, the same thing was done all over again, “leaders” took charge and bent rules to fit them and their “group”.
Just to be fair, there are some positive deviants from the norm, like in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they actually plan years ahead, put systems and policy in place, and do proper enforcement and follow up. In Egypt, though millions go on demonstration, they leave the roads clean and ensure things are properly back in place.
Nevertheless, most of us are always chasing the quick wins, the individual recognitions, the shortcuts and the “what’s in it for me” attitude, at least for the time being. So in a nutshell, we’re mostly an individualistic nation, we produce endless shining stars but not a collaborative galaxy!
My recommendation would be to start learning the following, so we can perhaps start taking baby steps towards progress:
- Willingness to learn, humbleness, and long term strategic planning from the Japanese
- Willingness to put the nation before self, economic agility and discipline from the Chinese
- Structuring and building systems, pragmatic thinking and financial wizardry from the Americans
- Strength and value of team work and communal wellbeing from the Penguins
- Perseverance, discipline and working as one from the Ants
I’m saying all of this not with a perspective of despair but rather a belief that everything is feasible and if we learn to change how we think and act, we can definitely do wonders.
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