Reflections on Being 30

30 years.jpg

Dear Reader,

It’s been a while since I wrote blog post, but I’m taking the occasion of recently turning 30 to reflect on what it means to me, where I stand in life now and my perspective on what is yet to come in the future.

To start, I’m glad to say it’s been hectic, rewarding, challenging, stressful at times but most importantly an enjoyable journey. Looking back at the last 10 years, I feel blessed to have been faced with many challenges, phases of life, career changes, love life changes, and I even lived abroad for a short while.

In the past 10 years, I’ve changed 4 jobs and had a complete career shift from IT into Management Consulting. In that period I’ve also earned 6 international certifications and a masters degree. I’ve establish multiple NGOs, elected to the Board in some, advised numerous others, trained more than a 1,000 youth and professionals alike, travelled to numerous countries, met some of the most inspiring people but most importantly married the love of my life and got a beautiful baby boy.

Now that I’m 30, I feel I’m at the nexus of life where I’m definitely more mature, experienced and knowledgeable than any of my previous years, but I’m also less interested in many things, less eager about proving myself here or there, less enticed by new adventures and definitely less willing to take risks.

Overall I feel more rooted in who I became, my family, my country, my friends, my network, my comfort zone in general. Yet 2 things I can’t seem to quench, my curiosity and my ambitions. I constantly feel restless to learn more and achieve more things in my life. In every avenue I take whether it being professional life, academic knowledge, volunteer work or personal/social life… I constantly am on the lookout for what is yet to come, what is next, what the future will bring.

This restlessness is sometimes a much needed fuel that keeps me going, to aspire for more impact and growth, to do more and learn more. Yet at times it somehow feels like a burning desire to take some unwarranted risks, to dedicate more time and effort in things that might not necessarily be in line with what is best at the moment, to dream of things that are not yet attainable nor practical.

One thing I know for sure is that my brain never stops pondering about the possibilities that lay ahead, the “what ifs”, the different ways I can be spending my time and effort. Sometimes I get that urge to just quit my job and break free from the never ending rat race and go freelance, do what I am passionate about, explore different options, establish some social enterprise or simply just hustle my way through life. Sometimes I feel like I want to take a whole quarter of un-paid leave and just spend time with my wife and baby, do some volunteer work, travel around different countries, experience new things that I have been wandering about.

Then reality check comes in and reminds me of all the pros and cons. It reminds me about the lifestyle I’ve put my self and my family in, about the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, about the potential of not being able to provide to my family the basic needs if things go south.  The debate goes on for a while in my head, and usually this happens late at night while gazing out from my balcony to the view of the city, the sea and nature. I realize that the 3 of them are co-existing, balanced somehow, even though some take a toll on the other, but they co-exist and have found their equilibrium (though they are ever changing, they still stabilize somehow). So I remind myself of all that I’m doing lately, from work to volunteering to quality time with family and friends. It gets me to realize that the sea ought not take over the city and nature, nor the city to overtake the others, and balance is the key to sustainability. So I calm myself down and hold my horses from going irrational.

30 is an interesting age, a time in life where one is equipped to do much more than before, but also has many more guidelines and responsibilities. It’s exciting and calming at the same time. It allows me to reflect on the many things that have passed and been achieved, and the many more things that are yet to be done. It reminds me that 3 decades have passed, and God willing, I’d have many more yet to come, so there is still time to do a lot. It gives me the realization that the world doesn’t move as fast as I hope it would, things don’t change as rapidly as I’d like, achievements don’t come by as frequently as I desire, nevertheless there is time and patience is a virtue.

For now, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy the 30s, keep on dreaming and aspiring, keep on pushing for more and learning more while still ensuring that I’m well rooted and grounded, lest I leap into the realm of the unknown.

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Compilation: Management & Personal Development

Personal Development
Personal Development

I was asked by some of my friends to compile related articles together in an accessible way. Thus, I’m posting this as a simple compilation of relevant articles under the theme of “Management & Personal Development”.

Check the links below of the aforementioned articles:

 

I hope you enjoy the articles and feel free to subscribe to my Blog for regular updates.

 

Guest Writer: Lessons Learned from Politics by Radhia Benalia

Guest Writer: Lessons Learned from Politics by Radhia Benalia

Dear Reader,

As per my previous announcement this month, I will start hosting guest writers on my blog to share some experiences, knowledge and perspective that are worth shedding light on.

In this context, my first guest writer is Mrs. Radhia Benalia, the Deputy General Manager of CMCS Lebanon, a 2009 candidate for the BC Liberals for the constituency in Canada, an avid public speaker and translator with strong knowledge in project management. Her article is shedding light on her political experience when she ran for office in Canada in 2009. To get to know her better check: LinkedIn || Blog || Pinterest || Twitter

Enjoy the read!

Afif

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Lessons Learned from Politics

In 2009, I was nominated as the candidate for the BC Liberals for the constituency of Surrey-Whalley in beautiful British Columbia. A unique experience. The election campaign happened “fast and furious” as I was nominated a few weeks only before elections. Fact is: I have done, seen, and lived the unanticipated, and these are the lessons learned I wanted to share:

Lesson 1:

If you ever think of going into politics, I’ll say you better keep pristine records. The other camp will cheerfully cut you to pieces and feed you to the dogs if they have anything on you. Even speeding tickets. Don’t break the law; don’t even lie about your résumé. You know what they can do with that!

Lesson 2:

Practice public speaking. Tirelessly. I was fortunate enough to have been teaching public speaking for a few years, and I surely had the chance to practice, and for a “rookie”, I did pretty well in debates and speeches, so I’m more than grateful for what I had learnt prior to my entrance into politics.

Lesson 3:

Hire a campaign manager that has the guts to tell you off and criticize you. Mine did repeatedly. He made me work 3 shifts and got me to talk about things I never thought I would a hundred miles an hour. Besides, he took care of me, chased me around every day of the campaign with a pack of vitamins, and made sure I ate well. My campaign manager was more important than I was for the campaign, and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Lesson 4:

Lose weight or wear those braces before you are nominated. What I mean to say is if anything makes you extremely uncomfortable about your looks, then remedy to that before you see yourself on camera and become devastated. You’ll see a lot of yourself everywhere. Every day.

Lesson 5:

Choose a campaign photo you’re comfortable with.  You’ll be seeing the photo on billboards, posters, and even on TV; take the time to choose. Three years later, I still am glad I wasn’t forced into making a quick choice.

Oh, and about comfort, make sure you have a few pairs of very comfortable shoes. Trust me: The investment is worthy.

Lesson 6:

If you don’t have enough good people around you, don’t do it.

I was extremely lucky. My team was wonderful. Everyone worked so hard, and they were known for being one of the most supportive campaign teams ever.  I couldn’t have done it without them either.

Lesson 7:

Walk tall.

You‘ll be criticized over and over again, and then some. You’ll take heat, and it’s not going to be pretty. Candidates are criticized by journalists, constituents, and even by people who endorse them. Listen objectively, learn, and work on improving yourself. Do not waste time feeling resentment. It is useless.

Lesson 8:

Make yourself available to your constituents. Listen with heart. During the campaign I was “summoned” to a meeting with a group of citizens who were irate about the way the party I represented handled a safety issue in the area. I wasn’t the decision maker, but lobbied for the concerned constituents, and they knew I cared. It feels good to remember that I did not let those people down.

Lesson 9:

Learn about the history of your party and your constituency, and fill in any gaps you might have. You’ll be asked about things that happened when you weren’t even born and will be sentenced to political disgrace if you do not have the answers. I was once asked about a constituent allegedly abused by the police. I hadn’t heard. Trust me, I didn’t look good then.

Lesson 10:

Nothing is off the record with journalists. When my signs were vandalized during the campaign, I had a journalist make me think four times over an interview that I wasn’t on camera anymore in an attempt to “elicit” what she wanted me to reveal. My team had warned me, and fortunately, I didn’t beep a word.

Lesson 11:

Keep your family close. Do not let your campaign team become the “middle-man”.  Always make sure your children know where to reach you. Listen closely to your spouse, and do not make any major decisions about your career without your family. They will be part of every bit of it. My family stood by me every minute of it, and I do thank them for that.

Lesson 12:

Be ready to move on whatever happens. Your life does not stop on ballot night. Whether you make the seat or not, there is much more to think about , work for and live for.

Lesson 13:

Read the numbers well. I was glad to find out that I had gotten more votes than my incumbent opponent did the first time he ran. Definitely what many considered a huge success, especially considering all the circumstances surrounding my nomination.

In Conclusion

I hope this was helpful. However, I’d like to say that the biggest lesson I have learnt from my political experience is not to enter politics unless it is for wanting to make a change, a good one. It is only then that it can be rewarding.

Being a public figure and submitting yourself to scrutiny is definitely not a bed of roses. It takes a toll on your health, personal life, and even your freedom. If you’re doing it for the power or for the money, then DON’T. It is just not worth any part of it.

Lessons Learned from Working in IT

In the following article I will try to extract the most notable lessons learned from my experience in the IT field for the past few years.

A quick overview for my dear readers who don’t know my background, I studied Computer Science(CMPS) at the American University of Beirut(AUB) while working at the Computing and Networking Services (CNS) on campus. Following my graduation I worked in IT development at a banking/financial institution while doing some free lance web-development and IT related consultancies.

Overall, I had my share of working on both hardware and software…and the lessons learned all fit in together and I will be pinpointing them as briefly as possible  in the below lines:

  • No problem is too complex. The key to success in this is to decompose the complexity of the issue into smaller manageable parts. Afterwards one only needs to resolve a group of simpler issues that fit in together.
  • Automation is the key to ongoing growth and sustainability of many companies. This is due to the fact that any requested behavior can be mimicked and coded accordingly, with as many exceptions as needed, replacing the need for human interaction with machines.
  • Technology is advancing faster than we expect. The rate at which technology is evolving allows for sophisticated solutions to be designed and implemented with growing speed and ease. What was nearly impossible 10 years ago can be developed in a week today.
  • IT team leaders can make or break the company. One of the keys for successful IT teams is a team leader who knows how to leverage the expertise of the team, provide enough autonomy while still closely overseeing the work.
  • Programming in multiple languages is becoming a must. Knowing one programming language …in our times…is no longer enough to keep with the pace of advancement and to develop the solutions the best fit the needs.
  • GUI is king. Graphical user interface and packaging became as important as the actual functionality of the solutions requested as users demand the simplest and most intuitive tools they can have. People want eye-candy with minimal intellectual effort to use the applications.

In this context, and after checking the above with some of my friends and colleagues, the same lessons apply in most fields and I will definitely be taking those lessons with me in my consultancy and management work from now on.

I hope they help you in one way or another in your career…and I’m open for your comments and suggestions as always. 🙂