The nine habits of highly effective Immigrants!

By Ahmed Nabeel Alvi, a Surrey immigrant resident and volunteer

One of the greatest challenges immigrants face in any country is a lack of direction and strategy to help them settle and excel in their respective professions.

Several countries have developed programs to facilitate new immigrants through various settlement agencies and non-profits organizations. These agencies run workshops, networking events and help immigrants to develop action plans to fulfil their dreams in the new country.

For example, the Government of Canada has plenty of programs for new immigrants like Prepare for Canada  where inspirational speaker Nick Noorani has developed the 7 Success Secrets for Canadian Immigrants and the Australian government supports the six settlement strategies by Sue Ellson, the Founder of Newcomers Network that has benefited such groups.

Just like the Golden Rule of ethics, the 7 habits of highly effective people by Dr. Stephen Covey have inspired millions of individuals, groups and organizations globally in their pursuit of success.

I believe that these habits can be very beneficial in the immigration context as well.  People, who feel indecisive about what they want, what they need and how to achieve their goals can learn from these habits, adapt them and practice them in accordance to their needs.

For those unfamiliar, the seven habits are listed below and I can guarantee that immigrants can relate to them with ease and benefit from them.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

You are responsible for your future and you will decide how to shape it. You cannot wait for things to happen but instead have to create them to your benefit. Take control and proactively research on areas of your interest so that you are prepared.

Develop a business case for your destination and proactively plan its results.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Where do you see yourself in the next five years has been a very common phrase for interviews which determines your long term goal, commitment and vision. If you don’t have your end in mind, create one for your new destination both at a professional and personal level.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Learn to prioritise your tasks systematically.  As mentioned in project management for immigrants, you have to plan and execute certain phases in accordance to the need of your project so that you achieve your outcomes effectively.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Respecting, valuing and accommodating the opinions of other people and aligning them according to your personal objectives is a very effective success model for any business or government campaign.  Immigrants need to understand the feelings of others and develop mutual beneficial interventions especially as plenty of conflicts can arise from within and external factors in a new country.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Most immigrants can become arrogant and ignorant when it comes to change as they find it difficult to leave their comfort zone. I feel this habit is important in understanding the culture, norms and work ethics of a new country and then presenting your skills within this context.

Habit 6: Synergize

Working towards your objectives in isolation can be very stressful as it generates lack of openness and inability to understand diverse perspectives.  Sharing your passion, ideas and goals with family, friends and new groups through networking helps in constructive results.  "Two heads are better than one" and working cooperatively with others to achieve your goals in a new country can be a very effective habit.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Continuous investment in yourself in terms of knowledge, skills and attitude is critical for immigrants in a new country.  In today’s world you have to equip yourself with innovative tools and continuous professional and personal development. For example, you may have the technical knowledge but how to present or putting your message across effectively may require improving your soft skills.

Habit 8: Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs

This habit is important for inspiring immigrants within the context of identity, ownership and pride in oneself. The key to success is in giving and sharing what you have achieved with those who are aspiring to find their way.  Helping others find their path and their direction is a sign of greatness and motivation.

Habit 9:  Resilience

This habit is not part of Stephen covey’s legacy and I have developed it after experiencing several personal and professional experiences as a new immigrant. In my opinion, the most significant habit for immigrants is resilience.  It is vital that you remain positive emotionally and physically during this important change. Leaving a country and adapting to new laws, systems and culture can be very difficult and stressful for yourself and your family leading to depression, demotivation and low self-esteem.  

You will have to build your resilience like any other soft skill and develop and acquire a strategy allowing you to bounce back with more zeal and motivation every time you fail or get misguided.

The fate of your success will depend on how well you plan, develop and execute these habits effectively. They say that old habits die hard and developing new ones for immigrants will be not easy unless are injected with passion, persistence and positivity.

About Ahmed Nebeel Alvi: Ahmed Nabeel Alvi has over 14 years of leading and developing large-scale programs and projects covering Education, Sports, Youth, ELT, Arts & Seniors. As a trainer, he has demonstrated ability to lead and motivate diverse teams and individuals, instigate and manage change and improve performance through effective emotional intelligence.

Ahmed conceptualized, designed and developed the “Transformational Skills for Newcomers” workshop which challenges the traditional opinion that “transferable skills “are essential for newcomers in Canada.

He likes to contribute towards issues of immigration, community development and managing change and believes in the quote “We will either find a way or make one!”