Self-help, improvement or development is not a new invention. In fact, humans have always tried to become better at whatever it is they were doing. Advice from philosophers, psychologists, teachers, community leaders, parents and sadly even charlatans has always been handed down from one person to the next.
We’re all innately curious to some degree about finding ways and hacks to make life happier and easier for ourselves. But Sharif Maghraby didn’t start his coaching and training career by going from point A to B.
He took the very long way around. Like most of us, his father wanted him to become a doctor or an engineer, or perhaps a biomedical engineer, the best of both worlds. But as fate would have it, Sharif switched majors so many times until he finally graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in communication and minoring in psychology.
After graduating, Sharif landed a marketing job in the fast-food industry in Kuwait and spent three years there. He was being prepped for a leadership role when he realized that it was not aligned with his values or authentic self.
Bravely, he took a loan from a family friend, moved to Canada and pursued a degree in new media. He got into film-making, music and graphics. Armed with a Canadian education, a lot of drive and more ideas he moved to Egypt and opened a boutique advertising and media agency. He did a lot of story boarding, commercials and documentaries but still, was not happy in the environment. When a client moving to the UAE offered him a job in TV, he packed up his life and was on a plane in three days.
He spent the next fifteen years at the TV channel working really hard and advancing in his career. But life happens, and a severe car accident, a tough divorce, a near drowning experience, and the death of his father and grandmother in the span of 48 hours – all helped shape his character and define him. And every time Sharif overcame one of these obstacles, he would think about how everyone else must be fighting their own battles, and he wanted to support them on their journeys too. That was when it all clicked for him.
Sharif had already taken a lot of work-related courses and his trainers and facilitators would regularly comment that he was a ‘natural’ with the right combination of energy, personality and aptitude to be a trainer or coach himself. And when a friend asked him to stand-in for another trainer in a foreign country, he jumped at the opportunity. Even though his audience were not English speakers and a translator was needed to relay every word, their feedback was very positive. That was when he decided he wanted to write a book.
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The 7 Gates of Progressive Human Integration is about Sharif’s journey of self-development. He wanted to summarize all of the self-development knowledge he had learned into a practical and accessible volume that was clearly divided into an easy-to-use modular format, with all of the chapters following a similar template and each having a personal story at the start. He even made the book available as an e-book and an audiobook to make sure it would reach as many people as possible.
He was still working at his full-time media job but was suddenly made redundant. And even though he got a couple of attractive job offers, he knew it was time to do something different. Writing the book had forced him to rise up and become a better version of himself, because he wanted to live up to the persona he had created. He was disenchanted with the current state of television and wanted out.
But before that he was giving a keynote speech in Jordan when he found himself attending a social entrepreneurship workshop. He had found his calling, and being the kind of man who doesn’t do things in half-measures, he spent the next two years getting officially certified as a coach by the ICF (International Coach Federation), studying design thinking, innovation and positive psychology.
Now, that he was no longer chained to a desk he decided it was time to take his knowledge and expertise to a much wider audience. Sharif created a course on Udemy. The platform is already established, and the courses are very affordably priced. It can be accessed on devices via an app or directly on a computer, making it even easier for people to find and use. And perhaps the platform’s best feature is your ability to try before you buy. You can sample the modules for free before you commit.
All of this has been done before in English, but Sharif offers a science-based and evidence-backed course in Arabic. He wanted to offer Arabic speakers a more culturally-sensitive take on self-development. It is easy to just translate the literature into English, but that doesn’t make it an effective tool. It took Sharif a year to design the course content and test every little detail. His dialect, clothing, background and production were all carefully chosen to make sure it was authentic, congruent and relevant to Arabic-speakers. He even purchased the web address www.ijabi.me (which translates to ‘positive’ in Arabic) to create a brand that people can remember and access easily. The course titled “Activating Positive Energy For Health & Happiness” teaches people how to control their negative self-talk, manage toxic emotions, build better relationships, among many other things.
All of this has been a labor of love for Sharif, and has moved him one step closer to his goal of empowering creative and positive change in the world.