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Achieve Success IN SPITE OF Adversity – 2 True Stories

Adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD for short. That was the name of a terrible disorder that afflicted the child of an American woman in a film(based on a true story) I watched some years ago.

It was an ailment the child’s doctors believed could not be treated.

The mother of the ALD afflicted child was however not like most others and refused to sit back and watch her child waste away while she hoped for a miracle.

In this article, two true stories are narrated to illustrate how self-belief, and desire, backed by dogged persistence can help any person achieve a valued goal(s) despite the perpetual presence of adverse conditions.

A Mother Who Knew How

Through relentless personal efforts, she practically created the “miracle” that saved her son(the disease affects only boys – usually between ages 6 and 10). She went from doctor to doctor, specialist-to-specialist and visited libraries, reading all manner of books, articles, research reports etc that had even the slightest relevance to the subject of ALD.

She remained undaunted in the face of repeated discouragement from those she approached for help.

Instead, she chose to empower herself by becoming as knowledgeable as the medical practitioners themselves, on the subject of ALD and its treatment etc. It was this focus, determination and perseverance that eventually paid off, resulting in her helping to discover a viable treatment for her child – and by implication, those of others.

(The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) maintains an information page on ALD).

The foregoing narrative illustrates how an individual, through self-help/belief, can achieve what – before then – would have been considered “impossible”.

Michael Angier – in one of his SuccessNet.org articles(titled “Leaders are readers”) – once wrote that Abraham Lincoln used to walk miles (from/to his house) to borrow and return library books, which he read, by candlelight.

That the knowledge he acquired from reading all those books made a significant impact on his ability to succeed is certainly not in doubt today. I once read somewhere that “books strengthen the mind”. In Lincoln’s case, his healthy reading habit apparently gave him the mental stamina to carry on, (DESPITE failing repeatedly in pursuing many important goals he set out to achieve in life) UNTIL he achieved noteworthy success.

As pointed out by Angier: in Abe’s case, the phrase “Leaders are readers” could not be more appropriate.

An Employee Who Knew How

Consider another true story of a 29 year old brewer in one of the Nigerian plants of a multinational blue chip manufacturing company.

He decided to attend a 3-month practically intensive French Language course in his spare time (which wasn’t much). During this period he would close night shift at 7.00am on Monday for instance, get home by 7.30am, sleep till 10.30am then rush out to resume French lessons by 11.00am for 4 consecutive hours.

Many times after classes, he would insist on staying on with his Cameroonian teacher to practice speaking/writing fluent and grammatically correct French.

He kept this up till the 3 months expired – and continued afterwards to visit the teacher to consolidate his learning.

The latter, being very impressed, arranged later that year for the “student” to spend 3 weeks in Cameroon living with his (the teacher’s) family.

During this period, the young man went out daily to interact with people in different places and practice carrying on everyday conversations in French with a view to achieving fluency.

As the end of his three week stay approached he was pleased to note – based on comments from his hosts and friends he had made, that his fluency had improved noticeably. The trip had served useful purpose after all.

A Run Of Bad Luck?

When it was time to return to Nigeria, things did not however go exactly as he had planned. As a matter of fact, his trip back home turned out to be most traumatizing, due to an unexpected failure of a friend he had made on arrival in Cameroon, to return an amount of money he(the friend) had borrowed.

In order to get back to Nigeria and resume shift duty on schedule in the brewery, he was forced to travel 12 hours overnight, by sea, under heavy rainfall, in a leaky boat from Douala Cameroon to Oron in Nigeria. Read the full story of that journey across the Ocean here.

Reaping The Rewards

That was in July 1999. In April 2001(almost 2 years later), this young man was nominated by his company along with 3 others to attend a 1 week International Course in Douala, Cameroon (note that the company/most of its managers had no idea at this time that he could speak/read or write French).

It was just a day after the course began, that the expatriate MD of their Cameroonian sister company visited, and joined the Nigerian delegates in their hotel bar.

For some strange reason, the MD singled him out and asked him “Tu parle Français?”(“Do you speak French?”).

The young man naturally responded “Oui, je parle un peu”(“Yes, a little”) a bit surprised at being taken up so directly. Both men went on to converse fluently for about 15 minutes in the same language while the other Nigerians looked on in amazement.

One of them was to later say to this young man “Ol boy, so you can speak French!? I knew you took some classes, but I didn’t know you could speak it so well. Man, I’m impressed”. Another said ”You’ve really demystified this language for me now – I must learn to speak French too”.

While they were still at the bar, the MD called another Cameroonian, a senior manager, and said (pointing to the young Nigerian) “Il parle Français comme un Camerounais!”(He speaks French like a Cameroonian!).

Needless to say, he subsequently became very useful as an interpreter for his Nigerian colleagues, whenever they visited their choice restaurant to eat – since the steward there could barely manage a few words of greeting in English. The same thing happened whenever they had to ask for directions when they went out on their own.

But most importantly, you can imagine the high regard in which his colleagues began to hold him for his ability to speak a foreign language they wished they could speak, and so fluently too.

Of course he got noticed for that many times afterwards, and made friends much more easily as a result.

In fact, after the course, one of the Cameroonian delegates invited him to spend a number of nights with his family at Yaounde – and even went out of his way to help locate the family of the young man’s teacher in the Francophone capital.

The significant recognition and high profile that his French-speaking ability brought him served to make the pains of learning to speak the language well worth it.

Now, Let Me Ask You A Question

What if his company’s management had later decided to send someone on secondment to work in the sister company in Cameroon? And what if they had to choose from amongst a large number of qualified managers – which included our young friend?

Do you think he would have been one of those to be given very serious consideration/possibly chosen?

I do.

And by the way, that young man was this writer.

And it did happen that during the course in Douala, the idea of having an international mix of facilitators to implement the roll out of the course within each country was muted.

A suggestion made by one of the expatriate course facilitators was that our young Nigerian, being already French speaking, would be well placed to help the Cameroonians with the implementation in their country.

NB: It should also interest you to know that my ability to read, write and speak French is what has since 1st April 2013, enabled me relocate and live in/work from French Speaking Benin Republic as a Location Independent Multipreneur. See how this works in your favor?

Were They Just Lucky?

It could be argued, that the individuals I have described above, were just lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

My response would be that anyone who thinks so, has probably not heard the very apt saying that goes something like this: “Luck is often what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.

In other words, a person can ensure that he becomes perpetually lucky (successful) by simply preparing himself ahead of time for possible experiences (or opportunities) s/he might be exposed to in the future.

This can be done first by reflecting on previous experiences – and current happenings – as well as carefully evaluating signs or signals of likely future occurrences.

Having done this, the individual can then proceed to prepare –against the backdrop of the reflections – by acquiring the relevant skills and/or knowledge needed to effectively tackle the challenges that the future brings.

By the time s/he actually encounters the challenges or undergoes the experiences, it would likely be with a feeling of having done it before – what is sometimes called “Déjà vu”.

“Luck is the residue of diligence”

People in different areas of human endeavor sometimes complain that they can’t succeed or achieve advancements in their personal/work lives.

Their reason is often that they lack the needed resources or enabling environment for them to do so. (An example is the case of employees working in an organization).

The truth however is often that within that same environment, working alongside those same complainants, are some individuals who – despite the lack of resources/favorable environment – are continually achieving the desired successes.

By this I do not mean individuals who have godfathers making things happen for them from behind the scenes, regardless of their actual abilities or workplace performances. I also do not refer to persons who employ crooked means to achieve their “success(es)”. No.

Those I am concerned with here are persons who by dint of sheer hard work, diligent preparation, perpetual self-education, and rugged perseverance, continually overcome (perceived) limitations in their environment, to achieve practically ANY objectives they set for themselves.

FINAL WORDS : In saying the foregoing, I must emphasize that sometimes, one may have to (as Jim Rohn said) change the environment(s) in which one seeks to succeed.

This can be especially relevant to persons engaged in activities outside paid employment. In following Jim’s advice however, some people may need to improvise(like I have), as not everyone will be able to “re-locate” physically to another environment.

Thankfully, technology and the Internet have today made it easier to increase your chances of achieving success. They do this by affording you convenient access to more favorable environments that are physically beyond your reach, while you remain where you are.

One example: A freelance writer based in India can get better paid – than s/he would at home – to do work online for clients in the US, Canada etc.

Another example: If you’ve been following my work online for some time, you of course know that I earn income as a Location Independent Multipreneur, from providing a wide variety of products and services to clients in different industries.

I do this over 80% of the time via the web (a growing number of Farm CEOs from within and outside Africa buy my custom Excel-VB driven Farm Support software).

I also do it while traveling back and forth between countries e.g. Benin Republic and Nigeria. For instance, I’ve just finished web development projects for a startup consultancy and a private university here. And just two days ago, a Farm CEO in Nigeria sent payment for my Excel-VB Poultry Farm Manager (Click here to see 15 user guide videos for the Poultry Farm Manager).

To get to this point where demand for my products and services comes this often, I’ve applied the ideas shared in this article.

One More Thing : This article was one of the very first articles I ever wrote as an entrepreneur.

It was written in 2002 – my first startup year (click here to view the version I published on Ezinearticles.com in 2006). The fact that I’m come this far, 12 years later, proves I’ve been practicing what I preached back then.

If you seek success in your personal or business life, you will need to do the same thing. Need help? Click here to contact me.

Related Article(s):

1. How I Traveled Back To Nigeria – 12 Hours Overnight, By Sea, Under Heavy Rainfall, In A Leaky Boat – From Douala, Cameroon Despite Having No Money!

2. Are Entrepreneurs Who Achieve Success Luckier Than Those Who Don’t ?

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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