For some, it would have been ‘easier said than done!’ They might even resign to the deck of cards that fate had dealt them. “It is my fate! I must resign to it.” They said. Sad to say, they are right, if they believe so.
I believe no one promised him that his journey would be an easy one; no one painted him a journey with straight smooth paths and flowers at the side, where the sun will always shine brightly with occasional rain to nourish the lands. And definitely no one guaranteed him result.
It was his fate to scale all brick walls that stood in his way to top his class and I believe that he will continue to go against all odds in his life.
Brendan Lee emerged as the top student despite his dyslexia. He said,
“I didn’t have much of a childhood. I had to go to the dyslexia association, Singapore General Hospital for my speech therapy, home tuition, school tuition, so there was no time for leisure. Many times, I was demoralised. My friends would ostracise me because I failed all my subjects.“
Fortunately for Mr. Lee, he chose to play the cards that was dealt to him differently and against all odds. How would we have played his cards? Are we to resign to our fates? Or are we to re-engineer our own fates? Either way you are right to choose whichever path you want to take.
The path to re-engineer our own fates is not one without challenges, just as it was a challenging one for Mr. Lee. And I certainly do not promise you that it will be an easy and smooth sailing one. As the saying goes, “There is no shortcut to any place worth going.” Now the question is, “Is it worth it for Mr. Lee?” I would leave you to answer that question on your own. Either way, you are right; it is a matter of choice.
Even for billionaire Richard Branson, he didn’t do well academically; he has mild dyslexia and according to an article by John Shepler,
“Richard didn’t breeze through school. It wasn’t just a challenge for him, it was a nightmare. His dyslexia embarrassed him as he had to memorize and recite word for word in public.“
Richard Branson is the 261st richest person in the world according to Forbes’ 2009 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of approximately £2.6 billion (US$3.9billion). Was it worth it to re-engineer his fate and not resigning to it? Mr. Branson wrote in his autobiography of the decision to start an airline:
My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them…from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.
Was it worth it for Richard Branson? Same thing, I would like to leave that answer to you. And either way you are right. Re-engineering one’s fate and changing is challenging. Most people, including myself, resist changes. Changes may not always be for the better; however, one thing for sure, if we do not change, we may become obsolete and may become the next on the extinct list.
Photo by vivekchugh
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“Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.” — James Buckham
I was reading Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords for Success on adversity, which Mike Krzyzewski mentioned that, “what separates good teams and individuals from great ones is the manner in which they handle adversity.”
I could not have agree more with that. Adversity provides an unique opportunity for one to grow, to discover about oneself and to breakthrough personal limits. In his book, Beyond Basketball, he mentioned that, “whenever I face adversity, I look at the problem and then beyond the problem. I look for the positive impact it will have on me, my team, or my family.”
I would never have understood that, not until two years ago when I was in Philippines and going through it myself.
I had stayed in the Philippines for almost one and a half year in 2003 – 2005 in Makati and in Davao City. I stayed in Davao City for about 8 months and I loved the city. I would say it has the best of both world. Being a city, it has many amenities and facilities that come with a city but at the same time, you will get to enjoy peaceful moment at night like in the countryside. Basically it is also a safe place to live in; I remember I was walking alone in the street 2, 3 a.m. in the morning and I did not feel threatened in anyway.
And what about this city that taught me to handle adversity? There was once I had to make a trip to a college which is about an hour or two away by taxi. I was pretty excited to be given an opportunity to present to a group of students. Throughout the journey to the college, I was going through the presentation in my mind and at the same time enjoying the scenic view on the way to the college.
When I reached the college, the students were already in the lecture hall waiting for me to start my presentation. Without any further delay, I set up my projector and the laptop. Within minutes, I was good to go. There was only one challenge; the laptop refused to power up or rather the hard disk had crashed. Basically, the laptop had chosen the ‘most appropriate time’ to break down and had it not broken down, I would not have had the opportunity to grow.
My presentation slide was in the laptop and even if I had a soft copy of the presentation slide, there were no other computers or laptops which I could use. And so I stood there for a moment facing the group of about 20-30 students and their eyes were all looking at me and waiting for me to start. What could I do? I had no choice, or rather I was already given a choice; the show must go on.
I saw a white board just besides me, I asked for a few white board markers and so the show began. At first I was worried as I did not know how I should do the presentation or what I should say; I had never done the same presentations on white board before. But within five minutes into the presentation, I found that everything started flowing naturally to my mind. In fact it was much better if I could say; the session was more interactive and engaging.
Since I didn’t need to follow the presentation slide, I allowed more questions from the student. Do you think the students enjoyed the session? I certainly believe they did.
What occurred that day was not only a learning experience for the students, but also a good learning experience for me. I remember a quotation that states, “Remember that challenges are not there to stop you. The challenges are there to help you grow.” Similarly, adversity provides us with opportunities not only to grow but also to breakthrough the limits that we set for ourselves. Adversity challenges us to change our own beliefs from ‘I don’t think it can be done,’ to ‘it can.’
Right now you could be going through adversities in your life especially with the bad economy. But remember adversity are there for a reason, to challenge you to challenge yourself.
As promised, the details for the last post I did on Brick Wall. “Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.” – Professor Randy Pausch.
This year, on my birthday, I received a special gift from a friend. My friend and his girlfriend gave me ‘The Last Lecture‘ by Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) with Jeffrey Zaslow. Randy Pausch was a Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon. Some of you may have read the book already. It was first the lecture before the book. ‘The Last Lecture’ is a series of talks by Professors who were asked to imagine their demise and to give talks on what matters most to them.
However, for Professor Randy Pausch, he didn’t need to imagine it as his last since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had only a few months left to live. His lecture was not about dying, but that of “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Through his moving presentation, Professor Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.
One of the points that sunk deep into me, like words set in stone, was the point he made about brick wall. If you watched ‘The Last Lecture’ video, which I have embedded here, he probably mentioned the brick wall about a dozen times. As he said, “Brick walls are there for a reason…” How true isn’t it?
Throughout our lives, we will have many brick walls. Some of which are invisible to the eyes like the emotional brick walls which we might build to protect ourselves and at the same times preventing others from reaching out to us. Such brick walls are the hardest to break through as it depends a lot on ourselves to break through them. And even before we can break through them, we have to be self-aware of these brick walls that we have built up around ourselves.
The other brick walls are often made of flesh; by our loved ones, our friends and people around us. It can be a challenge to break through these walls too especially when we knew that our loved ones and friends are concerned about us. However, being concerned about us doesn’t mean that they will always know what may be best for us. In this case, we not only have to break through the physical brick wall but also the emotional portion that comes with it.
However, as what Professor Randy Pausch said, “Brick walls are there for a reason…” They are there to test how much we wanted what we want. In his own words, “… The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Are you facing any brick wall in your life now? Do remember that the brick wall is there for a reason.
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