Munira Premji

There is a wonderful anticipation about the start of a new year.  It is a time of beginnings and of heralding the future with a sense of hope and confidence.  There is a sense of newness, of resolutions and reinvention.  The new year holds wonder and promise.  But before we jump headfirst into the new year, it’s important to reflect on the past year, and the lessons learned.

Some of these are learnings I have gleaned over the years; some are learnings from friends and wise people over the ages, and some are new and emerging explorations as a very active 2015 came to an end.

I’ve learned that God never gives us more than we can handle.  And just when you’re about to give up, He gives you the strength and resources you need to slay the dragons and emerge stronger and better.  And sometimes, when you least expect it, miracles happen.  I am learning to just have faith and to trust in God.

I’ve learned that you get what you focus on.  If you focus on the problem or what is not working or how awful your life is, that is all you will see.  If you focus on what is possible and the blessings in your life, that is what you will see.  So put your focus on what you want because “your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon to Anakin, Star Wars Episode I.

I’ve learned that working hard doesn’t always mean working smart.  Working hard is about putting in the hours.  Working smart is about knowing when to delegate, what efforts require collaboration, when to put in a 100% effort (and when 76% effort is sufficient), and coming up with new – and smarter – ways of doing things.

I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff.  Some people take life’s small nuisances with a shrug, while others freak out and blow up.  What if we put things in perspective so that we focus on the things that matter most?  That way not every “small stuff” in our lives becomes an irritant.

I’ve learned that you are what you eat (and that working out is as important for your mind as your body).  This is a fairly recent discovery for me as I replace sugar, white bread and processed food with greek yogurt, coconut oil, spinach and berries.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou said this, and she’s right.  Enough said!

I’ve learned that you have more control than you think.  Often when I feel like I have no choice, I ask myself, “if I had a choice, what would it be?”, and my mind generates many more options.  I am learning that you always have a choice and that you must be the architect of your life.

I’ve learned that good is the enemy of best.  With my insane desire to get done things quickly, I tend to sometimes settle for the good.  I am learning that, when it is an important enough matter, it makes sense to persevere and do what needs to be done to get the best outcome.

I’ve learned the importance of balance in life between work and personal time.  I am learning that balance does not always have to be exactly 50-50.  When working on a huge project or a deal, balance may mean 80% work and 20% personal life for a period of time.  Sometimes the balance may be 60% – 40%, or some other variation.  The key is to consciously seek balance, and be fully present during personal time.

I’ve learned to trust my instincts.  When something feels right, there is alignment between the head, the heart and the gut.  If there is a disconnect – if your head says something is right, but your instincts tells you differently, don’t do it!

I’ve learned that you can be an energy giver or an energy drainer.   With each interaction, you can choose to be an energy giver or an energy drainer.  An energy giver is optimistic, positive, other-centric and real. An energy taker is often pessimistic, a victim, negative, and self-centred.  Choose to be an energy giver!

I’ve learned that gratitude is the key to happiness.  There is something inherently powerful about living in a place of gratitude.  I find it helpful to think of three things that I am grateful about each day.  Gratitude begets gratitude.

I’ve learned to be the best me that I can be.  There’s always someone out there who is more successful, richer or has thinner thighs!  Comparing yourself to someone else is a game you’ll never win. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

I’ve learned that money doesn’t buy happiness.  Yes, money has its advantages.  But as I get older, I realize that there are things that are much more important –  like health, family, friends, community, being passionate about the work you do and having a purpose in life. 

I’ve learned that worry is like opening your umbrella waiting for it to rain.  Researchers have found that only 8% of the things we worry about are even likely to happen.  Worrying is a waste of time.   William Inge expressed it this way:  “Worry is like interest paid on trouble before it falls due”.

I’ve learned that if you’re not learning, you’re dying.  When I was 18, I worked with my Dad who was a smart and astute businessman.  At the end of each day, he would ask me what I had learned that day.  That created a lifelong desire for learning in me. The internet, news, books, TED Talks, workshops, Coursera and edX (free online university courses), conversations with other people, experiences – all provide endless sources of information and learning.

I’ve learned that there is no greater joy that giving back.  When you give back of your time, your knowledge, your compassion, your generosity, you make the world a better place.  And what you get back from serving others is priceless!

I’ve learned that life begins at the end of your comfort zone.  Each time I have tackled something new, I come alive.  Push yourself.  Test your limits.  Step beyond what you know.  You owe this to yourself!

I’ve learned that life is happening now Wayne Dyer said it best:  “Your life is happening right now. Make it amazing. Find your voice and make a difference…Be fearless.  Don’t die with your music still inside of you. There is no greater tragedy.”  What are you going to do in 2016 to live your life fully and fearlessly?

What are some of your learnings this past year?

As we bid farewell to 2015 and say hello to 2016, may people all over the world live in peace, happiness, love and abundance.  Happy New Year to you and yours from the Premji Family!

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  • Shaney , January 15, 2016

    Amazing words of wisdom……intend to share with my children!!!
    Wish you all the happiness and joy in 2016, may you continue to inspire us all!!
    Congratulations on Sabrina’s engagement

  • Nargis Hajee , January 13, 2016

    Wonderful family pictures.
    Very interesting lessons learned. Thank you.
    Wishing you and your whole family a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
    Mmaa Munira, our prayers for you and your family for good health, peace, happiness and barakah. May you always be blessed with “Light” in your heart and may that “Light” always guide you and protect you and may Mowla’s hand be always on your shoulder for protection and fulfillment of all your good wishes. Ameen

    • Munira Premji , January 13, 2016

      Thanks! And amen for your heartfelt prayers!

  • Anonymous , January 5, 2016

    I was waiting to read this later and only remembered now that I should check that blog of yours. Thank you, as usual, for your very positive and inspirational messages. Now, if only we can do what you say. Giving up bread, hmm, that one is going to be hard. Munira, I pray you and your lovely family have a wonderful 2016 filled with joy. By the way, those pictures at the bottom of your post – as beautiful as you.

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      I know. Giving up bread is the most difficult! The pictures were taken at my daughters engagement. We had 97 people at our home! Happiest 2016 to you as well

  • Rashida Tejani , January 4, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom ..beautiful 🙂
    A very happy New Year to you and family…may this year bring you good health and happiness . .Ameen 🙂

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      Rashida – your notes are always so welcome! Wishing you a fabulous year – a year of joy, great health and much happiness in the family

  • Beth Gordon , January 4, 2016

    Munira – You continue to inspire all. You are always in my thoughts and prayers! XOXO Beth Gordon

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      Hi Beth! Wow. So great to hear from you! How are you doing? How is the team? I miss you guys! Wishing you a joyful and fulfilling 2016!

  • Shiraz Khalfan , January 3, 2016

    Oh and I forgot, A very very Happy New Year and all good things in life come your way…sk

  • Shiraz Khalfan , January 3, 2016

    Mma Munira. When I opened this forward, I first thought I will save the read for later, and then I read the first, and then the 2nd, and 3rd and did not stop.
    I loved your learning of opening up of the umbrella waiting for it to rain, so true, worrying just does not do anything, anything….love your indeed are an inspiration to a lot of us…:)

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      Ya Ali Madad Mukhisaheb! I enjoyed writing that post. And my favourite learning is about the umbrella as well! How have you been? Wishing you an awesome 2016!

  • Debi , January 3, 2016

    Thank you Munira,
    These lessons seemed to find me at the right time. More than just platitudes, they provide me with a reminder of what is important and how to work smartly through 2016. Blessings to you.

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      Blessings to you as well and may the universe to envelope you with peace and fulfillment Debi!

  • Dave and Erika McMullen , January 3, 2016

    Thanks so much Munira for sharing your very wise observations and learnings from 2015! They apply to us all. Together, they provide a great and inspiring platform to move forward into a most gratifying 2016. Very best and heartfelt wishes to you and all the Premji family, for a happy and successful year ahead!

    Dave and Erika McMullen

    • Munira Premji , January 11, 2016

      Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from you guys!

  • Anonymous , January 3, 2016

    Love this list! Thank you for this.

  • Salim Pisani , January 2, 2016

    Munira, you are a shining star that gives light to others.

    With that light they get burning inspiration in their heart.

    May almighty God bless you and your wonderful family with everything you wish for.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR—-with new beginnings

  • Noor , January 2, 2016

    Great take on life and it’s learnings. Thank you Munira your spirit shines through your words. Love and laughter for you and your family!

    • Munira Premji , January 2, 2016

      Thanks so much Noor! I had so much fun writing this post! Happiest 2016 to you and your family!

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