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By Melody Danai
I have found that one of the biggest setbacks we have in life is that we limit our capabilities by the things we say and the fears we choose to entertain. There are just so many lies that we hide behind and that stop us from becoming the best we potentially can become. The truth really is that the only thing that stops us and creates these otherwise non-existent boundaries, the real enemy of our progress, is ourselves.
I wanted to be an academic, the title “Doctor” is something that I easily imagined I would attain. The problem I encountered was that I had no clue what that actually entailed and was not exposed enough to even know what I needed to do in order to set myself on the path to earning a PhD. As life would have it, circumstances dictated that I was not even able to go to university to earn a simple undergraduate degree after high school. In retrospect, I realise I actually had not made any effort to try at all so I settled for what I believed was the hard card that life had dealt me.
I first worked two minor jobs, one as a Receptionist at a start-up and the other as an Accounts Clerk in a department store (during which time I started on a banking diploma but which I was too uninterested in to even excel, let alone finish, with other contributory factors which made the excuses hold water). By some means found myself in a well esteemed Financial Services company in which a post I never even imagined existed was created for me and I got to work.
For a person who seemingly accidentally landed there, I did exceptionally well as a Fund Manager starting from scratch. If it wasn’t for my mother who had had the insight to send me to do the basic ICDL course just a few weeks prior to getting this opportunity, I would even have been so lost not knowing what to do with a real computer. At the retail store we all used a set system to view client details and so that was all the computing I had known.
I wanted to excel and so I did. For the first time, I willed it so I could. However, even as I was now able to start on the journey to becoming the academic I had dreamt of, I did not. I got comfortable and frankly I was lazy, I did not see that at the time of course. The opportunities were there and I had a hundred excuses not to take them. So, in the same time-frame, I proved to myself the point I make. I willed myself to excel in my work, despite not having a qualification in the field, and I did. On the other hand I told myself all there was to tell against starting on the academic journey I had dreamt of and so I failed at it. The attempts on a different qualification which I took up after the banking diploma were equally futile.
I moved on from the job I had miraculously landed seven years later and at that point in time I had realised what a let-down I had been to myself and what I was capable of doing so I decided I would will myself out of the excuses and start on my journey and I embarked on this new adventure. I almost did not, it was easier not to start but I relocated in order to reset and started on the journey to getting my first degree, Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Management, part time. In the space of four years, while making my way through the degree, I have landed in positions I was never qualified for and have excelled in all.
In one organisation I got my foot in the door just by accepting a once off data capture job, I did it impressively (and also managed their switchboard on the days when I did my data capturing from the reception desk, not because I was asked, just because I decided I could )and set a record on speed and accuracy that the company looked for me to work permanently as the National Database Officer, managing and training on the database usage. I also did that so well that I was asked to work as the National Evaluation Officer doing assessments and selection interviews doubling up in addition to my initial role, it was a breeze. I willed it so I did it.
From there the next assignment I got was as a general Administrator and PA responsible also for Accounts Payables in a new company. I did exceptional recons and in less than a year had taken on more responsibilities to more of a combined Administrative and Accounting role while also running the payroll. In a little over a year I had become the Office Manager. No role has ever been taken away from me, only additions and learning and excelling, fully immersing myself to ensure that I always do more than is required. Even the expectation of what I can do is increasingly upgraded and acts as a further challenge to push forward and shift the boundaries.
What that has done for me now that my eyes are more open to possibilities is that I can see that it is only I who is the potential enemy of my own progress because of the comforts and available excuses in the present that I choose to believe are a set truth. It does not matter where it is , the only difference is how much you let yourself into it.
This is not even my story alone , I am privileged to know so many accomplished people whose worlds of excellence started when they willed it. There is no better time to start than now, from wherever you stand, as bad and as hopeless and as late as it may seem. I am in my final year now and I intend to keep going. Every step forward counts, will it! The opportunity will find you waiting and ready.