1.0 SELF IMPROVEMENT
1.1 EFFORT TO IMPROVE
You can 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
(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.
1.4 POSITIVE ATTITUDE
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.
1.5 FUTURISTIC OUTLOOK
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, and self-development.
(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
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-help and 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.
2.5 ENTREPRENEURIAL ATTITUDEYou need 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, 60:1)
[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)