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Musings on Management

3882962388_cb47330a46_bIn the introduction of “One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard, Confucius says, “The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.” This is my attempt to do just that.

If you haven’t read this book before, you should. It’s a well-written short story, if you will, about a young man who sets out to find the perfect manager. He wants to meet someone that found the balance between being good to people and achieving results. So he searches far and wide, only to find either ‘chill’ managers that got along well with their staff but performed poorly or ‘rough’ managers that, despite their employees’ negative feelings towards them, managed to get results. Finally one day, his search brings him to find ‘the one minute’ manager – the solution to his problems and answer to his questions (why else would they name the book after him, right?), and he learns how the one minute manager achieved and maintained this balance.

If you want to know the exact answers, read the book. While the author is really focusing on how we can improve our interaction with others, but we need to also consider applying these methods when dealing with ourselves. Here are some of the key points:

1. People who feel good about themselves will produce good results.

I find that when I am feeling down, I can’t design, write or create anything. I have to literally sit down, think about what it was that got me in this mood in the first place, and then figure out how (if possible) to get over it. It might be that I am frustrated about a falling out I had at work, and consequently I can’t think positively about other things. Negative thoughts and feelings are like poison; they may enter at one point but then slowly disperse into every crevice, making everything dark, like ink in clean water. So I have to clear them out, or they stain all of my efforts. Once I’ve dealt with whatever may be bothering me, I can finally continue with my work.

2. Help people reach their full potential by catching them doing something right.

The author says you should compliment people for doing something right, whenever they do it. We tend to focus on the slip-ups in our progress; the point here is to put emphasis on the positives. It should only make sense that if I love being recognized and appreciated for the good work I do, no matter how small, that I should do the same for others, and well… so should you.

As simple as it sounds to just nod at someone and say, ‘good job man’ or ‘you really nailed that presentation,’ the challenge lies in doing this with the people that get on your nerves and under your skin, the ones who, as soon as you see them, cause a word you have no business saying (or thinking about) to pop into mind.

There’s probably a good reason they give you a hard time. Maybe you are intimidating, or they are just insecure. Maybe you came off the wrong way when they first met you, or they aren’t used to your style of management. You never know what it is with people, but if you go out of your way to, as Mom says, ‘kill them with kindness,’ then they might stop feeling that way about you and themselves. Then poof goes the problem and the drama!

The Messenger (ARABIC) told us to ‘give gifts and love each other.’ This is exactly the same thing. When you give a gift, the true value lies in you being thoughtful about that person, that you remembered them and cared about them enough to sacrifice to make them happy. The same thing goes for being good to people. You are sacrificing your ego and suppressing your negative feelings for them, which may even just be in response to their hostility in the first place, and choosing to try and win them over. After all, smiling at your brother is a charity (and it’s free).

3. Everyone is a potential winner. Some are disguised as losers, but don’t let their appearances fool you.

Everyone is good at something; they just have to find out what that is, and then do it. In an interview done with Dalia Mogahed, when asked about whether she always knew this is what she wanted to do, she said that Allah blesses each of us with talents, and our way of being thankful for these talents is to use them in pleasing Him.

That really resonated with me. We should definitely seek to improve our quality of life, have good jobs, and lead fulfilling lives, but we need to remember to stay focused on pleasing Allah. So for all the people that say they aren’t good at anything (you know who you are), this is a reminder to you and all of us that we should try our best to do our part in making the world a better place, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is.

4. We are not just our behavior; we are the people managing our behavior.

When I read that, I think of tawbah (repentance). I think it’s because it sets out to make a distinction between us and our actions. This is really important to realize. When I was about 4 years old, I had done something to upset my mom, and she was mad at me. I came to her crying, and I asked her if I was a bad girl. She said, “No, you’re not a bad girl; what you did was bad.”

That was huge. It taught me that I can always try again and do better. Allah tells us we can come back to Him when we mess up, and He is always there when we need Him. We aren’t our mistakes, and contrary to what we like to think, we aren’t our successes either.

We were made to struggle, to try to improve, evolve and strive to be better.

5. Goals begin behaviors, while consequences maintain behaviors.

Let’s say, for instance, that I want to become the best designer in the world. So I mess around with design programs, join forums, read blogs, do tutorials, beg prominent design firms for jobs, and go out of my way to do whatever I think will get me there. Finally I get a job at an agency, and I realize that this isn’t really as exciting as I thought. Whenever I start to slack off and get lazy with my work, I have to remind myself of the consequences. My job will be at stake, I won’t learn the tricks of the trade, and as a result of that I won’t become the best designer in the world. Poor example, I know, but I think you got the point.

Again, this is a great book, and you can probably go through it in under an hour, so pick it up when you get the chance.

About the author

Sumayah Hassan

Sumayah Hassan

Sumayah Hassan was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She is the third oldest of seven children and daughter to a Somali father and African-American mother. Sumayah spent her childhood and teen years in Cairo, Egypt, where she learned Arabic and graduated from high school. She then returned to Virginia and attended George Mason University, where she completed a B.S. in Biology. Despite switching her major from Art, she continued taking video editing and graphic design classes throughout her stay in university. Last year, Sumayah moved to London, United Kingdom to live with her husband Mohamed. She is also pursuing her MBA in Marketing in the UK. Hassan works from home as a freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator. On the weekends, she teaches basic Qur’an classes at the local mosque in Lewisham.

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