No Excuse Is Strong Enough To Keep You Down
For some strange reason this past week has had events that led me down memory lane more than I have been in the recent years. Some memories were good while some were not so good. But there was one particular memory that got me so pensive to the point of almost getting me emotional (read crying). Let me shed some light for you to understand what I mean.
This last week I was engaged in a training as well as a strategy session for one of the best investigative media house known in Tanzania. I have to admit it was one of the most eye opening sessions I have ever had the opportunity to facilitate in a while, probably because of the dynamics of the business they are involved in. Anyway, during one of the lunch breaks, two people asked me the same question but in different ways.
The question was, “Liz, how did you know you wanted to do what you are doing today, and how did you start?”.
Of course that is not a question I had a simple answer to because to be honest I didn’t always know I wanted to be a speaker, or trainer, or motivational speaker, or change agent, or whatever you’d like to call me as long as it is in those lines. As a result of this question, I was forced to go down memory lane and in so doing, I came face to face with the realization that indeed I still had some raw nerves (internally) which if touched elicited some unwanted emotions (leading to tears).
At this point let me say that hopefully soon the world will get to read the story of my life through a series of books I’m writing, but every so often, every so often I share snippets of it when training different groups in different areas because the only way I know how to inspire people is by sharing my story with them. My story may not be the best, or the most captivating, but it is my story and without it I would not be the person I am today. It has some good parts, some bad parts and some really ugly parts, but all those parts put together have contributed to the person you call Liz today.
Whenever I do trainings, one of the things I am so focused on is to identify the level of confidence in the participants I am dealing with, and if I sense there are some who are deficient in self-belief, I immediately turn the training into a motivational/inspirational session so that I can lift them up. You see, I am where I am today because there are some people who believed in me and lifted me up. Some of these people I have never even met but because I read their stories or heard them speaking about their stories, I was motivated to believe that even I could make it to come out of the circumstances that were surrounding me then, that my background did not have to dictate my destiny. I believed their story and in their beliefs and it is because of reprogramming my brain and seeing myself through the eyes of those who believed in me that today I am able to stand and do what I do.
So going back to the question, after it was asked, I knew the only way to answer it was by changing gears from a trainer to a motivational speaker and so I decided I would respond to the question just before wrapping up the session for that day. This involved sharing a very personal segment of my story that I have never shared with anyone in public before that day, yet I felt I had to do this so that the participants of that training could all benefit from it, especially those I had already seen were suffering from insecurities of some sort. I’ll share just a small section of what I shared with them so I can bring my message of the day to a close.
I was born and raised by a single Mum who worked as a civil servant. This means she wasn’t making a lot of money but she did manage to take me to school up to where she was able to. At the time, we lived in one room which doubled up as a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and dining room. The toilet was outside though luckily at the time, there was only us using it. Needless to say, there are many privileges, opportunities and experiences I didn’t have simply because my Mum couldn’t afford them. I could see she was trying as much as she could and that’s why when I finished form four I made some very tough choices for my life.
Growing up in such a situation made me feel very insecure, not forgetting my evil aunt who heightened my insecurities by telling me I had sausage like lips, Chinese eyes and deformed cheeks (little did I know she meant dimples!!). I have referenced this incident about my aunt enough times so if you haven’t read about it yet, please visit my blog and read the article My Sausage-Like Lips.
Anyway, because of my insecurities, the only hobby I had was reading books and because I couldn’t afford to buy books or subscribe to a library to get books, I used to borrow books from my fellow students every Friday to read over the weekend and return them on Monday. I think between the time I was in grade eight and the time I cleared form four I must have read more than 500 books i.e. fictional, adventure, romantic books, investigations, etc. I used to read not less than 7 books in a month. There are weekends when I’d read 3 books.
Then one day I landed on a book called A Woman Of Substance written by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Here’s a summary of what the book is about:
A celebration of an indomitable spirit, here is New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford's dazzling saga of a woman who dared to dream--and to triumph against all odds...
In the brooding moors above a humble Yorkshire village stood Fairley Hall. There, Emma Harte, its oppressed but resourceful servant girl, acquired a shrewd determination. There, she honed her skills, discovered the meaning of treachery, learned to survive, to become a woman, and vowed to make her mark on the world.
In the wake of tragedy she rose from poverty to magnificent wealth as the iron-willed force behind a thriving international enterprise. As one of the richest women in the world Emma Harte has almost everything she fought so hard to achieve--save for the dream of love, and for the passion of the one man she could never have.
Through two marriages, two devastating wars, and generations of secrets, Emma's unparalleled success has come with a price. As greed, envy, and revenge consume those closest to her, the brilliant matriarch now finds herself poised to outwit her enemies, and to face the betrayals of the past with the same ingenious resolve that forged her empire.
I read the 928 paged book in 3 days.
This book changed my belief system overnight in the sense that I identified with the main character and felt a gush of hope go through me in a way that gave me something to look forward to in life. The book made me believe in myself and even though I did not know how, I started seeing myself as a successful woman in years to come. Thanks to this book, a vision was created in me that gave me an assurance that my background did not have to determine by future; I had the power in my hands to decide what kind of a future I wanted.
That vision and that hope has kept me going till today. Does that mean that I have never thought of giving up? Severally. But somehow to date, the story of Emma Harte and her resilience keeps coming back to me especially when I feel like giving up and I feel re-energized to continue.
This was a fictional story of course and after this book 6 more books were written as sequels, a TV series was made from the books, as well as a movie. Surprisingly, I never was interested in the series or movie.
Barbaraba Taylor Bradford is 84 years old as I write this article, and I will forever be grateful to her for writing this book.
Why am I sharing this story with you today? Because I know there is someone out there today reading this story and almost giving up on your life. You don’t have to. There is so much potential inside you that you haven’t even tapped into yet, and when you do, you will be shocked at the things you will be able to do for yourself and the world around you. All you need is to have a little hope that even you can become your own version of Emma Harte.
Your circumstances, your background, your ill-luck, and all those negative things are not an excuse as to why you shouldn’t be a success like she was.
That is why this week in my #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 Book Reading Challenge I am recommending the book NO EXCUSES! by Brian Tracy. This book will give you insight into how you can apply the power of self-discipline to change you and your circumstances and transform yourself into a success story in a very short period of time.
Finally, going back to the question I was asked, I did not always know that I would be who I am today, but somewhere along the way as I continued reading and listening to motivational speakers I realized I wanted to be more than just a statistic making up the human population on earth; I wanted to be a change agent and I decided that I will do so by doing whatever it takes to encourage someone else not to give up in this journey called life.
Today I am here to encourage you by telling you this; don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others. Besides, who would you be without your story?
Be ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.