In the winter of 1988, I arrived in Virginia Beach, VA, excited to begin graduate studies in Communication at Regent University. It was a bitterly cold winter.
The only job I could find on campus was with the Grounds Crew. My responsibility was to cut down trees on a site that would later become the 5-Star Founders Inn & Conference Center.
Daily, I would offer colleagues or classmates an excuse for why I could not join them for lunch. The truth was, I could not afford the $2.45 needed to buy a burger meal at the local McDonalds down the road.
The picture above was taken at the end of one of my shifts. If there was ever a moment in my life that I felt like quitting, this was it.
I remember saying a soft prayer under my breath. “God, I hate the cold and I hate my job. However, because I know you have other plans in store for me, I intend to be the best tree cutter I can be.”
Tired to the bone, I would head on to class, then the library, and finally hit the sack late at night. Only to get up in the wee hours of the morning and head out on my bicycle at 5.30 am for the ride to the ‘office.’
As tough as those times and days were, I learned golden life lessons.
The following are 7 of them:
No matter the circumstances or situation, without passion, there is no fuel to light the fire of success.
When the chips are down, you must possess quiet confidence and assurance that says there are no limits. You need to know that all things are possible. Confidence however should not be mistaken for arrogance. Rather, confidence is an internal compass that points north toward the finish line even when others around you cannot see it.
The landing on the moon had been previously ‘accomplished’ in several simulations by the team at #NASA long before Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on moon dust in 1969. Breaking through barriers requires that you see the end from the beginning. You must be able to project the future you anticipate in your mind, into the present.
As Tanzanian marathon runner, Juma Ikanga said after winning the New York City Marathon in 1989, “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.” In essence, you can hope and want to win more than anyone else in the world, but if you do not put in the work, it will not matter one bit.
In short, ‘hope’ is not a strategy.
Life is a marathon. It is not a sprint. There are no shortcuts. Success requires endurance for the oftentimes gruelling journey ahead. Ultimately, there are no testimonies without tests.
When the supporting cast has gone home, leaders still have to rise long before dawn to meet the road and the challenges ahead. Come snow, cold, rain, or shine, they put on their shoes and keep moving, even when it hurts and their lungs are bursting for rarefied oxygen.
In life, especially in challenging times, of which there will be many, we all need to hear that inner voice that says – “Keep on going. Keep on moving. You can make it. All things are possible.”
No one reaches the pinnacle of success on their own. They are helped along the way by door openers, waymakers, and hand clappers, who work behind the scenes to make things happen. The fact is, overcoming challenges always takes a tribe … a tribe of close family and friends who believe in and support you. I’ve been fortunate to have many.
Overcoming life’s challenges requires Faith … Faith in yourself. Faith in your team. More importantly, Faith in God. No matter what, His thoughts and plans for you are good. Keep Trusting. Keep the Faith.
- Dr. Victor Oladokun is a journalist and communications consultant. He is the Senior Advisor to the President, (Communication & Stakeholder Engagement) African Development Bank Group.