By Hanan Awaad
In my quest to success, I learned that you can rewrite your story at any time; you can even start a totally brand-new story. I learned that branding yourself is as brutal as the origin of the word and life is like a bell-curve, if you believe that you have reached the top, you will slide down. That’s why the only way to success is to ‘Keep Moving Forward!’
Growing up in a male-dominated culture is not easy, especially when you are a tough girl who wanted to experience life to its fullest. Being confined with traditions, religious and societal chains was my daily struggle for years. Between people that want to clip your wings and a society that may label you with all the ugly words in the dictionary, I found myself in a continuous quest to be me.
But I loved to talk to grownups and listen to their stories and imagine how life was decades ago. I loved to engage in their discussions on politics, economy, relationships, business, health and wealth. I always found grownups’ talks interesting. Despite my happiness engaging in grownups talks, my mother found it truly alarming. She always wanted me to do what girls do: clean , try new recipes and remain quiet . But I had other dreams. I wanted to read every book in the library ; to travel the world; to invent something ; to write books ; to host a TV show; to design fashion; to fly airplanes; to join the army ; to … the list was long … very long.
One person listened to my dreams without interrupting me. Grandpa never lost a chess game to me despite the many requests of my grandma to lose a game for me. He said: “why to lose a game when you have the perfect opponent to beat … if she wants to win, she has to earn it”. And since then, I am in a quest to earn my place at the top. He always said to me that he does not see me as a girl … he sees me as a feisty person who can achieve anything in life if I have enough ‘FIRE’ in my heart. My grandpa was my mentor.
Years went by and I went to university to study mechanical engineering. I was the only girl among a hundred boys. Some accepted me and many did not. Even professors, some of them did not understand why a girl like me chose to be ‘alone’. Only one professor believed in me and told me one day while I was crying thinking of transferring to another department: “I loved the A-type personality I met at the beginning of the semester, go bring her back”. My professor was my mentor.
Later, I worked for a boss from hell. He once came to my office and shouted at me: “Unorganized desk is an unorganized mind … you are not leaving until you organize your desk and finish filing all papers.” He paused and continued “… and I do not care if you have a baby waiting at the daycare”. I remember myself moving fast like a mad woman finishing everything in just a few minutes to run to my child with my leaking milk. My boss was my mentor.
Ask any coach, motivational speaker, successful business man or woman, they will tell you mentorship is a cornerstone in the palace of greatness. I add to this that mentors come in many shapes and sizes. They come in the form of a book: when you read, you learn the wisdom of great men and women. They come in the size of a multimillionaire or a penniless man.
A great man once told me: “Only fools will learn from their mistakes … but the wise will learn from great mentors”. He explained to me that when you are broke, you do not seek the advice of another broke; you seek the advice of a person who knows how not to be broke.
Only those who really know will not give you affirmations or validate your actions, they will not give you solutions to your problems. They will show you the way to figure out the solution and they will shout at you to wake you up when you become stuck. They will help you turn your anger and frustration into passion and movement. They will create clarity in your life. They will make you cut out those who do not serve your greater purpose in life. They will teach you how to sow and grow what you desire to reap. But great mentors are great because they have great mentees. I learned to be that great mentee. I learned to ask questions, to respect greatness when I am in its presence, to adapt to my ever-changing circumstances and to rewrite my story when I have to.
Originally posted 2016-03-08 04:33:27.