Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Learning to Serve Through Language



English is my first language. I am however bilingual with Arabic as my second. And although I took Spanish in High School and tend to use it here and there living in Arizona, I cannot say I'm fluent in it.

Growing up, my parents spoke to my brothers and I in Arabic at home and we'd respond in English. My grandmother (God rest her soul) didn't speak English. So she would say a few words and we'd use hand gestures and visual cues to maintain a conversation.

I am confident to say I'm fluent now in Arabic - Speaking, Reading and even Writing. I'm slower at grasping than I was before but am starting to strengthen my language all over again. All thanks to my husband, where English is his second language.

What is even more amazing is that our dialects are different being that we grew up in two different nations. Since everyone knows his dialect is more delicate, I'm trying to learn it and speak it more.

When learning any new language, it's not just the words you're grasping. You're picking up the meaning and the cultural habits behind it. And it got me thinking in the last few weeks - what makes his dialect more "delicate" as I put it?

It demonstrates servant leadership at its core.

By simply swapping one word, you can go from being demanding to serving. Over the years through different leadership classes, I was mentored on how to approach my peers, subordinates and managers. I would come off as "bossy" and "pushy," to keep this post G-rated.

I started framing statements into questions as a way to bring people on board with me. I tried to reference someone's idea to show how I was listening and asked how we could use it or build upon it. At times when I had to give orders, the statements came with confidence and grace and an explanation as to why it had to be done.

I am still trying to master all of that and continue to look for ways to improve my communication. And now I found it. If I could take the concept behind my new dialect and translate it, I'll be one step closer to being more approachable.

Traditionally I would ask -

"What do you want help with?"

In this statement the you can be offensive and that alone can make the question less delicate. Rather I ask -

"What do you want me to help with?"

By adding me, you're removing the focus on the person and creating a team environment.

I also mentioned that English is a second language to my husband and this has been a lesson in itself. When communicating with him, there are phrases and words I would traditionally use that do not make sense when translating to Arabic.

So I've become selective when choosing how I say something to ensure it doesn't come off wrong. As we expand our global presence, this is a crucial skill we need to master.


Language is not only the words.

It's how we order the words.

It's how we select the words.

It's how we present the words - our tone and timing.

Language is key to how we interact and communicate with those around us. Be mindful for how you order select and most importantly present your words.

If you're a Star Wars fan, you would recognize that the Master of all Jedi's, Yoda, speaks in a different form than we do.

"Patience you must have young Padawan" and in this example he's emphasizing what you must encompass - Patience in this case.

As you set off into the galaxy communicating, remember what you're intent is and don't be afraid to start with that.

It is way better than inadvertently offending someone when you set out to compliment them.

Enough said.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Throwing Out My Ego

Thinking of having a baby in the near future? I was given advice. The warnings. The benefits. But what most people don't talk about (maybe because they think they're out of line) is how quickly your ego gets thrown out the window.

Baby G was born on February 28, 2017 at 3:22pm. My pregnancy was on the difficult side with all day sickness from week six to 39 and contractions starting from week 28.

"But once you hold her in your arms and look into her eyes, it'll be worth it." <crickets chirping> Yes I love my daughter and wouldn't trade her for anything but I'm still recovering from the last 11 months.

I do, however, recall other comments like "you will learn to be a better leader in the workplace when you become a parent" and I'm starting to see why, hoping it holds true.

Create the Plan

I like to say I bring results and am quite productive at work and at home. It's amazing however how productive you are when you have a 40 week clock ticking.

At work I identified all the things I was leading. Working with my manager, we identified what was important and what could wait based on business needs. But what helped me get through it all was to avoid distraction.

Being at the company for almost seven years now, people know they can rely on me. So saying "no" was important now more than ever. And I learned that it was okay to say no and describe that it was based on the priorities. If there was a debate on the priority, it was resolved by putting all the cards on table and looking for the highest number.

It helps to know what needs to be done now and what needs to wait. And what's more crucial is your recovery plan. Who will do what in your absence or what will be done when something goes wrong?

I would rather take that ounce of prevention rather than the pound of reaction. Know what's ahead even when you don't know and have a plan of attack ready.

Take Control

I may have spoken about control in the past but it doesn't hurt to hit the replay button. I couldn't help waking up at five every day with the worst nauseating feeling during my pregnancy. Every time I think something would work to prevent the runs to the restroom, it no longer helped by the following week.

So I told myself to adapt. From five to eight in the morning, then noon and sometimes three to six in the evening, I may be sick. I couldn't control the sickness from happening no matter how many times I changed my diet or tried medicine my doctor prescribed. But I could control how I reacted to it.

Too often, we invest in the things we can't control. We nag about what the universe has or hasn't given us. In order to achieve results, we need to keep moving forward and we do so by analyzing what's within our control in order to succeed.

Be Humble

This one has always been the hardest for me. But when I do look into my daughter's eyes, nothing else seems to matter in that moment. She is looking to be for love, care, food and comfort. I put her needs before mine regardless of the situation. And when I can't anymore, I am willing to hand her to her father so I can rest and recharge. That was not easy in the beginning.

I am the kind of person who does everything at once and doesn't usually ask for help. When you have a fragile human being in your arms, it can be dangerous to try and do it all.

And this got me thinking- how many times did I work more than 60hrs/week? How were my decision making skills? How was my attitude towards my team? My family.

Pride can get you in trouble. Just recently, I let my guard down. I broke down and asked for help. I stopped worrying about how I would be viewed and didn't care if anyone was keeping score, which no one wasn't.

I started to listen more to what my daughter was saying (through her facial and mouth expressions and different cries); what my husband wasn't saying through his gestures of feeding the baby or rubbing my back randomly; and what my body was telling me through the aches and pains.

It's still difficult and with her growing cycles, there will be different phases of difficult but I at least lowered the expectations and know when and how to ask for help.

My daughter is just over a month now and she's slowly recovering from her low birth weight and thankfully that was the only consequence of a risk we learned about in the second trimester.

She will start to walk and talk before I am able to publish this post. So I hope to carry this message with me through her teething phase, her kindergarten hurdles, her college acceptance essays and her final touches of her dissertation (oh right, I said low expectations before huh?)

But I also hope to think of this time when I take on that next big project or interview for a manager position.



Our pride can cloud our judgment and distract us from focusing on what's important. Multitasking can be productive but I've learned the time spent feeding my daughter for 20-40 minutes a sitting, cannot be replaced. It's crucial to her health, wellbeing and aura.

If you can see the result ahead of you, then that is half the battle of achieving it. So don't be afraid to breath and be vulnerable why marking your path. If you're persistent enough, you'll succeed, even if you have to change diapers six times between start to finish. Every moment counts in achieving the end result, which includes bonding with your baby or even your team.





Sunday, February 12, 2017

Age Responsibly

I love helping people and wish I knew five years ago what I know now. It took me years to get to where I am today. As I come across challenges, I want to help people grow faster than I did. 

And I recognize it will take me years to get to where I want to be. My intentions come with humility but my actions may not always display that. 

I was always taught to share what I knew and ask questions when I didn't know.  There is nothing worse than assuming. 

Well, one thing: being mistaken as an arrogant know it all. 

After receiving a negative response when providing insight to someone, it got me thinking: what did I say? I was just trying to help. Or maybe I should ask myself: how did I say it? 

The timing and tone of my input was off, thus leading to the perception that I was better at this particular action and that I was a "know-it-all."  How can I be better in the future? How I can truly demonstrate care, support and humility without bringing someone down in the process? 

It comes with experience. Experience can sometimes relate to age. 

I've been in denial that I am entering my 30s this week. Trying to make it the new 20s, my brother (who is 12 years senior to me) reminded me how I made a dentures joke in his 30th birthday card. Ouch, Tima. 

What I've come to realize is that age isn't all bad. As each year progresses, we can either improve or stay where we are. I started out by saying how I'm a different person than who I was at 25 and I can only hope to be a different and better person at 35. 

To demonstrate care, support and humility it starts with being human. We have flaws in our communication styles and get trapped in our own bubble from time to time. The key to being better is to always be more personable. 

When we call our insurance company or credit card service, we have an urge to speak to a person, not an automated service. So why is it so hard to be personable in day-to-day conversations? 

There's a way to point to the process and a way to be blunt but in all those cases you can easily acknowledge the person you're talking to. Acknowledge their presence. Their state of mind. Their challenge. When we're empathic, it becomes easier to communicate. 

Being personable can take you a long way. I'm hoping to mature in how I communicate and connect. I'm hoping to grow and how I grow will be based on each and every decision I make.

I want to look back five, ten or twenty years and smile at the path I've crossed; the path I created. 

But with that smile comes a sense of humanity. So the next time I hit a major birthday milestone, I need to be reminded that I got there with experience. Hopefully people can vouch that with my age and growth, I arrived through care, support and humility. 

A superhero's uncle once said: "with great power comes great responsibility."  I'm becoming convinced that with greater age comes greater responsibility and greater consequences. 

Don't discount your age. Instead, make every year count for the best.




 https://www.google.com/search?q=great+power+comes+great+responsibility&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS640US640&hl=en-US&prmd=ivsn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-rZSsn4zSAhVmwlQKHahOAlQQ_AUIBygB&biw=375&bih=591#hl=en-US&tbm=isch&q=aging+sequence&imgrc=xu9mut-sHUJjuM:


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Standing Up During The Storm

True leaders will tell you: I want you to be better than me at this position. Managers will be intimidated by your aspirations and hold you down.

Watching President Obama complete his two terms and hand off the presidency to President Trump, we admire his character and what he brought to the American presidency. Some firsts will go down in history and I cannot argue with his accomplishments. But as half the country complains about Trump and sits in fear as to what his presidency will bring, I can only think about what kind of leader President Obama really was.

This is not a political post but another personal lesson on leadership.

Raise your followers 

As a leader, you have many followers and your hope is that they follow in your footsteps and excel in ways you can't even imagine. Where did we (the American people / his followers) get lost? What lessons did we learn from President Obama and which ones were swept under the rug?

In any relationship, you need to be engaged. The leader needs to set the vision and set a path with limited barriers. The followers need to walk that path and know when to pass the leader or slow down for support.

What happened in the last four and eight years that allowed us to get to this point? One side says it's great- we finally have a non-politician in office. The other is scared, worried that we will be set back 100 years.

Was it the leader or was it the followers? Did we get comfortable with the changes and assume it will always go forward? Did we not plan for the next four, eight or twelve years?

Set a vision but walk-the-walk

It's important to have a clear path of where you want to go. A wise man once said "if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there."

What's just as critical as knowing where you want to be, you need to take steps to get there. However, any leader in any industry will tell you he is limited by resources (money, people, etc). But how many times will you talk without actually doing the walk? We understand budgets. We understand business strategies. We understand how congress and the senate works (at least we hope we do).

If you don't have the ability to do something, be careful what you commit to. You lose followers because you lose credibility.

Be accountable

It's easy to blame someone else. It's easy to say we ended up here because of the other guy's supporters. How easy is it to make a difference? A real difference? Some people set out to protest. Some were peaceful while others were violent. Women set out on marches, 500,000 roughly in one city.

What else do we need to do to not only make a stand but make a difference? We get caught up believing that we're too small to do anything. We hear about a strategy or a decision and complain about the leader not knowing what they're doing.

How can we learn to take more action and to be accountable for those actions? This goes for both the leaders and the followers. If the leader isn't accountable, isn't credible and cannot be followed, she will naturally be left alone on the path.

Watching changes in the last few months, both at work and in our country, there is a small sense of fear as to what it will bring. There is a lack of control that I cannot fight, but there are elements that I can start to study and see what can be improved the next time around.



It is not easy to sit back and watch your world exponentially change. It is not easy to see policies change faster than the seasons. And it is definitely not easy to embrace those changes or find a way to fight the waves.

It is easy to know what kind of leader you want to follow or even easier- what kind of leader you need to stand up and be during this storm.

Don't go down the path of uncertainty, in fear. Create your path and set of followers and hope the sun will rise again.

Picture courtesy of: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/32/fd/a5/32fda52566e68eefa08514df90cdb72b.jpg

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Stepping Into The New Year

Many of you are making plans for how to ring into the new year. And many of you are looking forward to leaving behind what 2016 had to offer. 

How can we go about this year differently than the rest? Set resolutions that we won't follow through on? Forget everything that happened? 

Why we don't try something different and see if it works out? 

It's not a clean slate 

Some people go into the new year thinking they can "start over." But this concept may be why we're let down so quickly as the days start to progress. 

Yes we have a chance to have new perspectives and choose new paths but we carry over key elements of previous years. For a tangible example, our fiscal year runs from May to April. Review season starts in June. So even if I wanted a clean slate, I still have four months to meet the expectations that were set in the beginning. 

I'm not trying to be negative. If we create a clear picture of what's new, it'll be easier to take on what the year will bring. 

Decide what to carry over 

It is a new year after all. We can't deny that there will be things that move with us but we can decide what we want to focus on. 

We may have had bad times. We may have had let downs. We may have ended relationships. Let's leave that in 2016. There's no point in sulking or dwelling on what didn't go our way in the previous year. 

When we pack our 2017 bag, we put our lessons in there; our happy memories; our new skills or behaviors; and of course any nice gifts you may have received for Christmas. If we learn to let go the negativity we allow room for more positivity in the new year. 

Set realistic goals

Resolutions are overrated, on December 31st, that is. What short term goals do you have for yourself? Where are you on achieving your long term goals? By assessing your progress, you're clearly able to close or continue goals you've already made for yourself. This way it doesn't become a huge undertaking. 

It is Saturday night. We'll wake up tomorrow and enjoy our Sunday morning coffee, watching the rare rain in the desert. What changed from last Saturday? It's raining out. Oh and the year you log in the books. 

As you reflect tonight over the last year, do yourself a favor and assess how you want the new year to go. Remember to pack your bags of the positive items that will give you the strength to conquer your goals in the new year. 

You own your destiny. If New Year's Eve is a way for you recharge, then take advantage of it. We say 2017 will be great- let's make it happen.