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Back in 2013 when I was in university, someone popped this question to me ‘What is my dream for the children of Malaysia?’ Without any work experience, I wrote down naively “Discovering and developing their potentials”. That was and still is a passion of mine and it’s always something I want to pursue. Then, I realised that it is a dream that’s hard to achieve because of my own limitations.
Fast forward to 2015, I started to get involved in the education industry after graduating for 2 years. The first thing that came to my mind was “I am grateful for doing something I like”. Someone who is shy, introvert, has no background and experience in this industry is finally starting to make a difference.
Now, in 2018, what have I achieved so far? I am a coach who has trained and coached a few hundred students and instilled some positive changes in these students. I have students as young as 5 years old to as senior as 60+ years old. It proves there’s no age limit when it comes to learning. I also need to manage a company as I am a CEO now.
It might seem easy to all of you that I am able to achieve my dream, right? You must be thinking I am gifted, talented, and natural in all of these, but things were not like this…
Back in school, I didn’t like to be the centre of attention. I couldn’t even raise my hands in class to ask for permission to go to the toilet. There was a monster running wild inside of me. His name is Fear.
The more people noticed me, the bigger the monster grew; and slowly but surely it ate me up eventually. I wanted to run away and hide from everyone when people started staring at me.
When I was in my final year of university, I applied for my dream job, eager to “discover and develop children’s potential”. At the final stage of the interview, I had a problem – I was required to do a mock lesson, but ‘Fear’ was still within me. With 10 strangers looking and judging my performance, ‘Fear’ was rawling when I was presenting the lesson. My palms were sweating and heart was pounding out of my chest.
As expected, I failed the interview.
I was extremely disappointed with myself and I felt lost. Doubts started to creep into my head, ‘Maybe I am not meant to do this?’. I couldn’t even speak to a crowd, let alone teaching. Should I continue or give up?
Then, this rule came to me. “You can quit, but not today. You have to keep continue until you have one good day, then you can quit.”. Guess what, I have not quitted since then. I truly understand what’s the potential within us, it’s not to quit during those bad days. It is how you get back up in those bad times.
“What should I do next?” I asked myself. I knew I need to learn from my failure and work on 2 things:
- My ‘Fear’ monster
- Communication skill
I heard this quote before:
“If you don’t put yourself on a path to learn, where you are now is where you’ll be in exactly 5 years”
I needed to do something vastly different so I decided to get out of my comfort zone. The thoughts of doing something that’s uncomfortable is scary by itself. Fear of being judged… fear of not succeeding… fear of making the wrong decision… fear of being a failure… All these fears came into my head instantly and to-date, I still have all these fears came to my company off and on.
For those of you who have fears in your head, it’s normal to have all these thoughts and fears in your head. It’s hard to silent it but you don’t have to switch it off. You need to face and handle it with baby steps. If you are afraid of public speaking, the first step is not putting yourself on the stage to speak to public. Your brain will scream “No” to it by default. Start by talking to one person at a time, start with something you feel comfortable.
I wished someone told me these earlier. How did I do it? I took an extreme route to get there. I took up a sales job, thinking that I would conquer my fear and improve my communication skill in the shortest time frame. I learned how to approach and talk to strangers, how to communicate and present myself better & even learned how to handle tough customers within a year.
Still, I wasn’t happy.
I was in a totally different industry and I had no background, experience, and connection in education industry. I was lost like a lamb in the woods. It’s intimidating because it’s like you want to write a book but you’re starting with a blank piece of paper.
So, I asked myself questions whenever I had no clue on what to do. “What’s the fastest way for me to build background, experience, and connection with zero budget?”
Background – I could Google and find YouTube videos on the experts in this industry. Model these experts everyday.
Experience – I could work or volunteer for free on the weekends.
Connection – I could go to a lot of free networking events to get to know more people.
Everything started to change. I knew the industry best practices and case studies that most educators do not know. I used those practices to learn new things until it became habitual.
One of the hardest things throughout the journey was to keep continuing no matter what happened. I am not going to lie, it was tough to be persistent. That’s why we need a support system or a mentor or an accountability partner in those tough time. I was very lucky to meet my mentor/friend at a networking event. Now, I am a CEO of his company, thanks to him.
Where am I now?
- I have stood in front of 1,000 students to give a talk. Conquered ‘Fear’, check!
- Students remember my name in just under an hour of talk. Communication skill improved, check!
- I am a Coach whom parents and children referred their friends to me. My dream, check!
I hope this story will serve as a reminder for myself to keep continuing to pursue what I want to do. I changed my dream to “My dream is to discover your hidden potential and develop it to make your dreams come true.”
I hope it can inspire those of you who have a big dream and want to make a difference in this world, you can definitely do it. Don’t let all the voices and excuses to stop you from doing it. I can’t promise you it will be an easy journey because clearly, it isn’t. But i can assure you it will be very rewarding.
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