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Good morning, I am Michael Popow and I want to give you a story about something that greatly changed my leadership life. This is a great opportunity for you as it will help you know how to endure hardships and temptations as growing leaders. The United States president Barrack Obama said in one of his speeches “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment and it comes with plenty of failure along the way.”
When I was a little boy in school, though I was jovial, I had difficulty in socializing with fellow pupils. I only had one friend. Because I was good in class work, our class teacher made me the class secretary. My duties were to ensure that pupils do not make noise in class, collect books and take them to the teacher for marking incase he gave assignments, and ensure cleanliness of the class. I did other tasks very well. But when it came to collection of books, I could collect them but had a problem taking them to the staff room. Since I feared teachers, I could stand beside the staff room holding the books in my hands waiting to send a teacher who enters the staffroom to take them to our teacher. I could wake up very early in the morning to collect them from staffroom before teachers came to school. I had not talked in front of people before. When it reached closing day, our teacher called me to say something as the class prefect. I stood nervously in front of the class, my legs, hands and mouth trembling with thin beads of sweat coming out of my entire body. I did not say anything. Our teacher realized my weakness and told me to sit down while pupils laughed at me.
The issue disturbed me psychologically the entire holiday vacation. I could neither sleep nor eat when I thought of it. When I saw any of my classmates approaching me over the holidays I could find a place to hide. The issue robbed me my happiness. I made a decision to visit my teacher to help me overcome it. He guided and cancelled me and gave me examples of people who had similar problem, got over it, and are now great leaders. He trained me on how to overcome the fear and how to effectively deliver speeches in public. When the school opened, he could occasionally invite me to speak in front of the class and at the assembly. I slowly gained confidence and was invited to participate in the school’s drama. I could also enter the staffroom and interact with the teachers without fear. I also made a lot of friends with the students. I was later made the school captain. This task now became easy for me because I had gained confidence and some leadership qualities. I was thereafter given various leadership roles both at school and outside.
Success and failure are things that we cannot avoid in life. But if we focus ourselves in what we want to achieve, the problems we meet will be a reflection of the success we are to achieve. I have always wondered what life would have been without failures. It is from the failures we encounter that we learn and get things done in the right way. Just like Muhammad Ali after losing his first battle to Ken Norton said “I never thought of losing, but now that it has happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”