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Defying All Odds

January 17, 2016

It is sad how people go about life clueless and purposeless, forgetting that there is no way they could have been created if there was no purpose for them to fulfil. I know I have said this several times before but as I was thinking of what to share with my readers this week I was compelled to remind us all about living a purpose-led life, a life where you wake up in the morning not because your neighbor’s cockerel woke you up, but because you are so in tune with your purpose that even before your iPhone alarm goes off, your own internal alarm wakes you up at 3:30am. A life where you are so energetic and eager to see sunrise because you know that for the next 12 hours, you will be making a positive difference in someone’s life. Now that is a purpose driven life.

You see when you have a purpose, nothing will put you down; not the circumstances you find yourself in, not the people who keep telling you that you cannot do what you want to do, not the economic or policy changes that have affected your business. Nothing will put you down. Instead, someone with a purpose will keep pushing until something happens. I love what Rick Warren, one of my favorite televangelists and author, said in his book The Purpose Driven Life. He said and I quote, “The truth is, almost everything we do is done poorly when we first start doing it – that’s how we learn”. I’d like to add that unless we have a purpose for doing whatever we do, then we give up as soon as we fail the first time.

I remember one time I was called to talk to a group of sales professionals on the topic of being a phenomenal sales person. During the session, one of the things we all discovered we had in common is the fact that at one point each one of us had been told NO by a potential client. So how did most of them react when that dreaded word was told to them on their face? Some gave up, some slowly started hating the profession but those who persisted finally got what they wanted.

You see, the difference between those who gave up and those who did is one small factor; ATTITUDE. I always tell people that Sales is the profession where ATTITUDE counts for more than APTITUDE. In short, it is not what you know but how you carry yourself and handle what you know that makes the difference. When everyone else is giving up because of the NOs they have received, if you have the right ATTITUDE you will not take NO for an answer. In fact, to you (if you are like me), NO will be an acronym that means Next Opportunity. That is how a purpose driven person goes about life, not following the majority of people who give up at the sight of trouble. I do not mean to be abusive in my language but for once I agree with Claude C. McDonald who said, “Sometimes a majority simply means that all the fools are on the same side.”  Ask yourself which side you are on today.

Today I want to share with you a story someone shared with us in one of the few WhatsApp groups I am still in. Those groups can be very annoying especially when you have people who have nothing to do but chat, posting stuff that does not even edify or grow anyone mentally, spiritually or even professionally. All they do is to digitize “umbea”. One of these find days I will write about them. Anyway, I digress.

The story I am about to share was written by a lady called Mildred Honor, a former elementary school Music Teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I will not edit anything from her story, so here goes….

At the prodding of my friends I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Honor. I am a former elementary school Music Teacher from Des Moines, Iowa.

I have always supplemented my income by Teaching Piano Lessons...Something I have done for over 30 years. During those years, I found that Children have many levels of musical ability, and even though I have never had the prodigy, I have taught some very talented students. However, I have also had my share of what I call 'Musically Challenged Pupils.

One such Pupil being Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his Mother (a Single Mom) dropped him off for his first Piano Lesson. I prefer that Students (especially Boys) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his Mother's Dream to hear him play the Piano, so I took him as a Student.

At the end of each weekly Lesson he would always say'My Mom's going to hear me Play someday.' But to me, it seemed hopeless, he just did not have any Inborn Ability. I only knew his Mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged Car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled, but never dropped in.

Then one day Robby stopped coming for his Lessons. I thought about calling him, but assumed that because of his lack of Ability he had decided to pursue something else. I was also glad that he had stopped coming. He was a Bad Advertisement for my Teaching!

Several Weeks later I mailed a flyer recital to the Students' homes. To my surprise, Robby (who had received a flyer) asked if he could be in the Recital. I told him that the Recital was for current Pupils and that because he had dropped out, he really did not qualify.

He told me that his Mother had been sick and unable to take him to his piano lessons, but that he had been practicing. 'Please Miss Honor, I've just got to Play,' he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the Recital - perhaps it was his insistence or maybe something inside of me saying that it would be all right;

The night of the Recital came and the high school gymnasium was packed with Parents, Relatives and Friends. I put Robby last in the Program, just before I was to come up and thank all the Students and Play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he might do would come at the end of the Program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my 'Curtain Closer'.

Well, the Recital went off without a hitch, the students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on the stage. His Clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked as though he had run an egg beater through it. 'Why wasn't he dressed up like the other Students?' I thought. 'Why didn't his Mother at least make him comb his hair for this Special Night?'

Robby pulled out the Piano bench, and I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen to play Mozart's Concerto No.21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the Ivories. He went from Pianissimo to Fortissimo, from Allegro to Virtuoso; his Suspended Chords that Mozart demands were Magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by anyone his age!

After six and a half minutes, he ended in a Grand Crescendo, and everyone was on their feet in Wild Applause!!! Overcome and in Tears, I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in Joy;

'I have never heard you Play like that Robby, how did you do it?' Through the Microphone Robby explained: 'Well, Miss Honor, Remember I told you that my Mom was sick? Well, she actually had cancer and passed away this morning. And well... she was born deaf, so tonight was the first time she had ever heard me play, and I wanted to make it Special.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As People from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed in to Foster Care, I noticed that even their Eyes were red and Puffy. I thought to myself then how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my Pupil.

No, I have never had a Prodigy, but that night I became a Prodigy... of Robby. He was the Teacher and I was the Pupil, for he had taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself, and may be even taking a chance on someone and you didn't know why.

Done wiping your tears? Good. Now that I have your full attention, I’d like to wrap up this article by pointing out just one thing; Robby had a purpose. And his purpose was to be ready for when he will play the piano for his Mum. He had many challenges, ranging from his Mum’s sickness, she probably not being able to take good care of him due to her condition, and maybe many other issues that such a scenario may present. However, he never lost sight of his purpose.

I do not know what your life’s goal (read purpose) is, or what challenges you have in achieving that goal or purpose. One thing I can tell you for sure is that if Robby saw through his purpose to the end, then so can you. 

Mine today is to remind us all that if God didn't have a Purpose for us, then we definitely wouldn't be here! Don’t be a waste of human life/skin but make your life count.

Lead a purpose driven life.

And the next time you want to quit, think of the 12 ducklings in the video below and learn from their persistence. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHy6bBKu0j4

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 17th January, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"

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