Friday Feature and Guest Blogger
I'm a family man, speaker, author, and Leadership and business coach.
I spent most of my childhood during the Lebanese civil war that tore my country apart. Right after high school, I immigrated to the greatest nation on earth and had very few role models in my life, so I turned to books to guide me on my journey. I started to read to Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, and observe what successful people do from far away.
Living alone was not easy, I slept on the floor, I spent a lot of holidays alone, I doubted myself and others doubted me. I was bullied for being short, and I was mocked for speaking with an accent. I struggled with anxiety and I dealt with depression.
I struggled with self-limiting beliefs, and I fought the demons in my head for a long time. I thought about giving up many times, but somehow I was able to finish college, work as a health inspector, start food safety business, manage a health department, speak on stages, and start a movement that helps people to reach their goals faster.
The movement called Lead with Integrity, we focus on Integrity, Action, and Accountability. I believe most people fail in life because they lack community, accountability, and resources. Lead with Integrity provides a safe community that encourages people to do the work. If someone is interested in adding more accountability to their life and business, we encourage them to join our Action Takers Inner Circle.
I have a bachelor of Biology and a Master in Business Administration. I studied leadership and personal development for the last 20 years. I coach business owners and high performers and I help them reach their goals faster. I only work with people who are committed, to be honest, accountable and consistent.
My wife and I have two kids, Naseem and Kareem. We live in Fort Worth.
I invite you to join our Facebook community and read our blog. You will learn from leaders just like you who want to be more and do more. Leaders who are committed to lead, to follow and to mentor. They are committed to taking their life, business, relationships, and skills to the next level. Join us.
One of my most shared articles is:
7 Stupid Things Society Wants You to Do
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” Steve Jobs
If you want to piss people off, be yourself. Your inner voice has been whispering in your ears to take more risks, to dare to be crazy, to challenge the status quo, to crush your fears, to stop wasting your life, to stop chasing the masses for a long time.
Society has another plan for you.
Society wants to mold you to fit other people’s expectations of you. Society brainwashes you to follow instructions and not to question authority. It starts early with your parents, school, and then your work environment. Everything is designed to make you compliant. Society is on a mission to kill your inner voice and steal your dreams.
Today, I want to convince you to become a rebel, to simplify complex subjects, to connect the dots, to create your own path, to develop a thick skin, to be remarkable, to be generous, and to make a difference.
Let me share a few things that you need rethink that society, parents, teachers, bosses, and politicians keep telling you to do. Society wants you to produce very little, consume a lot, to conform to the status quo, to obey the rules, and to hide behind your weaknesses.
1. Follow the majority. (Herd Mentality)
“I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me. Now I wonder if I like them.” -Anonymous
People tend to believe that something is true because the majority of people think it's true. Our brains evolved for the last 200,000 years to aid and protect us and being part of the herd accomplished that goal. When we lived in caves, being part of the herd increased our chances of survival and gave us a sense of security.
Being alone was risky and exposed us to unnecessary danger. We do not deal with the same challenges that our ancestors dealt with, but we are hardwired to follow the herd and ridicule anyone who leaves the herd. Society and your brain want you to follow your stone age tendencies and imitate what others are doing.
Speaking up, being alone, and breaking off the group is not something that society encourages you to do. Individuals who are crazy and brave enough to leave the herd will find themselves isolated from the masses. If you find yourself alone, and creating work that matters, do not worry – others will join you. Refusing to live an average life goes against our brain hardwiring, our biological instincts, and social norms. Do it anyway.
2. Figure life out by a certain age
“Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in” Ronald Reagan
If you type "things to do before 30" in the Google search bar, you will get over 6 billion suggestions in 0.7 seconds. Every major publication and blogger has written an article about what they expect you to do at every certain age. Social norms expect you to be living alone by now, married, graduated from college, have children, and millions of other expectations.
If you have not done everything on their list, they will convince you that you are living a subpar life; do not listen to them, be YOU. Live life on your own terms, not their terms.
3. Get offended by anything that you do not agree with.
“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.” Mark Manson
If you tell your friend that he is wrong about something, he might be offended, and you risk losing him. We need to stop being offended by everything. We do not choose what other people do or say, but we can choose how to respond to them. when we focus on the fact that we are offended, we stop working on improving ourselves, and we start blaming others for our negative thoughts and emotion.
One of the things that I admire about the Stoic philosophy is its approach to control our emotion. Epictetus once stated, "If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation." People are free to say whatever they please; do not get offended, learn to control your emotion, and stop doing what society is training you to do. I guarantee you that someone will be offended by this post. I just do not care.
4. Go to college
“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.” Ivan Illich
From an early age, we have been conditioned to believe that college is a requirement for a good life. This thought has been drilled into our brains by our parents and teachers. Society has brainwashed every one of us to believe that obtaining a college degree is the only respectful choice after high school.
The school system has one job – to deliver obedient workers, obedient citizens, and obedient realists. If you want to be entrepreneurs, all of these things will harm your chances. Be a dreamer, dream crazy dreams, and go to work.
In the last 30 years, things have changed: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerberg, Rachel Ray, and many more dropped out of college to create amazing products and change the world. They changed the rules, and they created companies that continue to shape how we live.
If you know what you want to do, and it does not need a degree, do not go to college.
5. Hide your depression and anxiety
“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” Tipper Gore
Depression is a serious illness that impacts millions of people in the world. It seems that every year, we lose a few famous people and millions of others to mental illness, and the hard thing about this fact is this: if you ask people who are close to depressed people, they would say, "I did not know he or she was depressed."
Robin Willaims made all of us laugh; Marilyn Monroe entertained the nation; Kate Spade founded one of the most recognized fashion brands in the world; Anthony Bourdain introduced us to global cuisines, and many more struggled with depression and anxiety, but most of them were not open about their struggles because of social stigma.
Most of the people who complain about their mental illness have been blamed for their condition. It is hard for some people to believe that Robin Williams, who made all of us laugh, could have been depressed. This stigma prevents people from seeking the help they deserve or talking freely about their struggles. I know how it feels because I struggled with anxiety, and I did not talk about it until recently.
I'm no longer afraid or care to hide my struggles. If you are going through a tough time, find someone to talk to or message me.
6. Accumulate material things
“Your peers will respect you for your integrity and character, not your possessions.” David Robinson
Let me share with you a few of my unpopular thoughts. Ambition is not a desire to accumulate material possessions, and success is not a number that you deposit in your bank account. An engagement ring should indicate commitment, and the size of the rock should not symbolize the love shared between two people. None of the things you own will give you long-term contentment or joy.
Society conditioned us to search for happiness by accumulating more stuff or to compare ourselves with our neighbors or celebrities. There is a reason "Keeping up with the Kardashians" is a popular TV show, marketing agencies want you to imitate the Kardashians' lifestyle, and they want to convince you that if you have their wealth, you will be happy. Online retailers spend millions of dollars to entice you to spend more money. They study your behavior so they can sell you more things.
If you want to reach real success, start thinking better and not more. You should aspire for a better home and not a bigger house. Stop following the masses, and do not be afraid of stepping out of marketer influence.
7. Saying yes to everyone
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” Paulo Coelho
Society wants you to feel guilty every time you say no to other people. Rebels know that in order to create a life worth sharing, they have to say no to certain demands that come from their family, friends, or coworkers. Saying “No” to some people will hurt their feeling and impact your relationships with them. Say “No” anyway.
Establish your personal boundaries, define your emotional and mental space, and do not let people cross these boundaries. Your boundaries are critical to your success. It is easy for me to say “No” because I know my boundaries. If you ask me to compromise my integrity, the answer is “No.” If you want me to place your needs before my family needs, the answer is “No.” I have boundaries, so it is easy for me to say “No.”
Society does not want me to say “No,” but I say it anyway.
Bonus: Get offended by my list
Society has been conditioning us to get offended by anything we do not agree with. I say screw that.
I have no doubt that my list will offend some people. I will receive some angry messages from people who do not agree with me; after all, I offended them. I have a choice to be offended by their harsh words, or not to give a sh*t. I will let you guess which one I will choose.
Be a rebel, and follow your own map.
Rebels look to solve problems; rebels lead and make a difference.
Rebels connect the dots, create arts, and deliver their work to people who need it the most.
Rebels take ownership; they step up and make things happen.
Now you have a choice – be a rebel or be offended by my list. The choice is yours.