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Monday, January 25, 2010

My Journey to the Legend

I must admit that sometimes it is hard for me to find titles for my blogs. Again I am the one writing it, so I am the one to decide lol

I was on Youtube watching some inspirational videos (yes we all need some inspiration) and I bumped into a short video on an interview with Will Smith (I believe I will meet him someday and that it will be HIS pleasure lol).. The way he spoke was as if he was there talking directly to me. I was like “I think I have heard this somewhere”. At the end of his interview, he mentioned the book from which he got all his ideas. Before he even mentioned the name of the book, I already knew it. I found myself saying at the same time with Will: “The Alchemist”!!!

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is one of my favourite books. This book is so amazing that I have read it seven times already (“get a life” I hear you saying). Coelho talks about the concept of “Personal Legend”.. According to him “Everyone has a Personal Legend. This is your dream. Whatever the purpose of your life is, that is your Personal Legend. When you want something, all the world conspires in helping you to achieve it”. What a concept!

Hang on, the Raptors game is about to start. I will get back to you in two hours. Hope they win.

Here I am again. Guess what? I slept through the game and woke up very late....hmmm..I guess that's why my Raps lost.

Anyways. Coming back to the Personal Legend thing (by the way, that is the name of my radio show. Not promoting it, but I guess I am).
When I read the book, not only was I inspired, but I also looked back at my life and saw that “all the world had conspired in helping me to achieve what I wanted”. Here is just one example among many.

Ever since I was in the 8th grade the English language has been my favourite subject. At first I could not speak it in public (I was a very shy guy), but I knew all the Bob Marley songs, The Eagles, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie... (but I couldn't sing any of them, except in the shower). So often, on my way to school, I found myself speaking English and having a conversation with myself. I was a great public speaker except that the only public listening

Needles to say that at University, I gravitated to the English Literature department. I was very excited about this opportunity. But, after the first year (that I did twice), I was a little bit disappointed. It was not what I expected. Don't get me wrong. The courses were great, the professors were amazing (the reason I did the first year twice because I wanted to see them all again. - Not really as my friend Jeanelle would say).

Before I continue, let me stop for a little bit of a commercial break. A big thank you to my friends Emmanuel-Motivatorman, Paul and Jeanelle for your contribution to this blog. You have all conspired in helping me to achieve my goal of publishing it. A round of applause please! (please Jeanelle, don't be shy, the public is acknowledging you).

Ok. This time I won't stop till I finish it (the Raptors are not playing, and my sponsors have allowed me to continue with no other commercial breaks!).

My disappointment was not being able to have enough opportunity to practice the language. We were more than a hundred students in my class, and when the class was done, there was nowhere to continue practicing the language at all. I was born in a French speaking country, and there were not really many opportunities to speak English outside of the classroom.

I had to do something. I created an English club at the University. It had existed before, but there had been no activity for years. So I became the president of the club (Yes We Can!!). I found myself speaking in front of hundreds of students. I also created another club in the area I lived. We met once a week. I also helped create an English club at my former high school. We would meet on Saturdays.

I found myself speaking English six days a week. Impressive isn't it?

Before the end of my University studies, I said to myself. “If I want to keep practicing my English, I have to be an English teacher, at least for a couple of years. The only place I want to teach is at my former high school.” And then “all the world started to conspire in helping me to achieve what I wanted”. I was still helping with the English club at my school when the English teacher (who was my room mate at the campus) got a great job in a UN agency. It was an offer he couldn't refuse. He went to the principal of the school and told him about the job offer, and he also told him that he would like for me to take over as the English teacher. It was a no brainer. I had been helping with the English club for months and I could also be the Basketball coach for the school team (do you remember how great a coach I was? Lol).

So, for four amazing years I was the English teacher at my former high school where I met amazing people who became great friends over the years. The greatest surprise of all is that my sister-in-law is one of my former students (didn't I do a great job?). Now I do not have to find ways to speak English. I live in Toronto but now I have an accent lol

Moral of the story? If you want to find your Personal Legend, just read “The Alchemist” and you will soon become an English teacher..

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Journey to the School of Life

You may be asking yourselves which school of life am I talking about. Hang on, you will soon find out.

I like talking with my friend and mentor Andrae. We share many things in common, one being our passion for Basketball. You may be thinking: "Here we go again with another Basketball story...". Well, I am the one writing this blog, so I am in charge lol.

One day I was talking to Andrae when he made a statement that has remained with me ever since. He said that Basketball is the best sport that teaches about life (sorry hockey fans..). I couldn’t agree more. My fellow NBA fans would remember last year’s play - offs when Lebron James made a shot with less than a second left in the game, leading his team to victory (they did not win the series against Superman but that was a heck of a game).

How many times in our lives have we found a solution to our problem at the last second, when everything seemed to be inevitably leading to disaster? (I can see you nodding…). That's when we became Lebron James (maybe less athletic, but still…). How about working hard at our game preparing for the big event? Basketball is one of the most physical games (unless you are always on the bench, like someone I know who has since discovered his passion for blogging. Know who I'm talking about?). You see? There are parallels everywhere.

My journey to that discovery dates back to when I coached Basketball. The year was 1999; we were still working hard, but still no championship. Four years had passed, some of our players had left, and new ones replaced them, but still no ring on our fingers (if you know what I mean). Nevertheless, we made sure that we had fun along the way (boy did we have fun!!).

Unannounced, something happened (I can't explain), but we all felt it. We knew that the time had come. The time to be champions - and this time we were ready!. One of the players even went as far as announcing on TV that we would become the champions that year. I think she broke all the bridges behind us. We had to perform if we didn’t want to look ridiculous.

Fast forward. Last game of the season! There was a tie between the two teams at the top; us and another team. They had beaten us before and were expected to be the champions. The last game was just a formality. We were facing a weaker team, so we were just cruising hoping to win the championship the following season.

Little did we know that there was something we did not know (or maybe forgot). The team that was supposed to be the champions was playing their last game on another court downtown, and they were also facing a weaker team. They were supposed to be cruising. Guess what? They didn’t. They lost the game.

Here we were, playing for the fun of it, thinking that our season was over. To our great surprise and drawing closer to us we heard people shouting, cars honking.. All the commotion was coming from people who were at the other court downtown. They came with the good news. I couldn’t believe it. We were the new champions...just like my player declared on television before the start of the season. What a relief. That was one of the best moments of my life. We went on to win three consecutive championships.

So why did I tell you all of that? (Maybe to show you how great a coach I was lol). Think about this: We thought we lost the season, but there was a game going on at a place we could not see. And the result of that game made us champions!!!

Maybe this could be in the curriculum of the school of life thing. When we face a tough situation, we tend to think that this is all there is. Maybe (just maybe) there is a game going on at a place we can't yet see. And that game may result in us winning ...overcoming, succeeding, and maybe even achieving our long awaited dream... Just a thought!

Moral of the story? Do you want to win in life? Just play Basketball and you will live by faith not by sight.

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My journey to the future

This is the first time that I am writing a blog with tears in my eyes. Don't worry, nothing happened to me. I just saw the movie “Rudy”.. If I were you, I would rent and watch this movie, but I am not you, so I won't be doing anything.

Have you ever watched a movie that reminds you of your life? That is what has just happened to me. I watched the movie “Rudy” for the third time just because I had no other movie to see. It has been a while since there's been a new movie in my house (I recently moved close to a movie theatre ...that should explain why).

As a kid, Rudy dreamed about playing for the Notre Dame College football team. When he said that the first time, everyone laughed at him. Who wouldn't? He had no athletic ability, his family could not afford to send him to college, and in fact everybody's dream in the family was to work on the factory plant as it had been the tradition for generations.

But they all forgot one thing. Rudy had heart. He was willing to outwork anybody, to do whatever it took to make his dream come to pass. It was a tough road, he had to earn everything he needed to succeed, and no one predicted he would do it. But he did... The only game he played for the Notre Dame team was a classic. The entire stadium was chanting “Rudy, Rudy...” (Can you chant for me please?).

As I watched the movie, two conversations ran through my mind. One was when I was in the 10th grade; I overheard someone saying “Patrick wants to play, but he will never make it in Basketball”. The second comment came from my friend Charles who told me once on the phone “you may not have all the talent, but your determination will always open doors for you.”

Ten years went by between these two conversations and so many things happened along the way. As far as I can remember, there haven’t been any free lunches for me. I had to fight for everything. It took me three years to make the University Basketball team, and for most of the time I was on the bench. It took me nine months, working for nothing, before being offered a contract at the radio station; it took me four years to win my first championship as a basketball coach. The list goes on and on, but remember this, I had fun doing it, and so far, I can proudly say that I am happy with where I am at (a tap on my shoulder please).

Now the reason why I cried when I was watching “Rudy” was because it reminded me of a course I took in March 2009 that revealed to me something I did not know (and I did not know that I did not know, if you know what I mean).

Now Rudy was fighting for everything because he wanted to prove to everyone, who said he could not make it, wrong! He was also doing it so that his father could be proud of him..

This is why, at one point, he wanted to quit. In fact, he did for a while until one of his friends told him that he wanted to play for the wrong reasons. His friend told him that he did not have to prove anything to anyone. This friend went on to tell him that people would always find something to judge him on and that he needed to forget them. Instead, he needed to realize that his dream belonged to him and that only when he recognized this would his dream come true. He told him that he needed to focus on playing because he liked it and because it was his ticket to getting an education. As you may have already guessed.....He went back to practice after that conversation..

So back to me now. The reason why I liked this movie was because initially I was like Rudy. My life had been for a long time “I'm gonna prove you wrong”. It's not a bad thing (I think that is what made Michael Jordan ...MICHAEL JORDAN), however, that changed after March 2009 when I enrolled in this course. Since then I have changed my approach and with that came some good results. I learnt, like Rudy, that I did not have to prove anything to anyone, including myself. I realized that all I need to do was to keep on dreaming and enjoying the ride, knowing that the dream would come true if I didn't quit and if I put in the required work. That is my present, and that will be my future and I assure you that there will be no other movie that may come my way that will ever change my mind.

Moral of the story? If you want to see your future, just watch the movie “Rudy” and your future will be as I predict: You will cry too.

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My journey to the Big One

I know you are asking yourselves what I meant by “the Big One”. Trust me; if I knew it myself I would have explained it. All I know is, there is a Big One.

It was in late October 2003, a year and a couple of months after my arrival to Canada. I was still adjusting to my new home but my mind was still back home, especially considering what I had done while I was there (see my blog on the journey to my major project).

I wanted to do something significant, and I felt nothing could stop me. Little did I know what was ahead of me. Now with a little bit of distance, I could admit that I wanted things for the wrong reasons. I just wanted to show off and brag and I learned it the hard way (please don't feel sorry for me, I needed it). Napoleon Hill wrote that in every adversity lies a blessing in disguise (I wanted to shoot him when I read that, cause I did not see any blessings at all). It was only later on that I came to truly understand what he meant (and I have to apologize to Napoleon). By the way, I am writing this blog watching The Jamie Foxx show. It is hilariously funny. Talk about multitasking...

Anyways, my idea was to bring famous artists from Canada and Europe to my country for a big concert that would be broadcast in North America, with a goal of helping the kids back home. It was a pretty big idea, and a friend of mine hooked me up with big names in the industry. All I had to do was find the money.

So, I started running. I don't think there was any place I didn't go to. I knocked on the doors of everyone I knew, I went to every city I could think of, but no one seemed to care. March 2004 came and I felt like the sky was falling down on me. My contract ended at the radio station and I found myself with no job and a big project to do (with no partner nearby). I had a choice to make. Either I keep on going, or I give up and look for a job ; however, something made me want to fight on!

Along the way, I found a partner who believed in me. He even gave up his dream job so that he could work with me. (By the way, the Jamie Foxx show has ended and now I am watching an NBA game. Go Kobe go).

For 7 straight months, with no job, I kept running looking for sponsors, but no one as much as looked at the project proposal. I started to doubt. Maybe I was not supposed to do this. Finally, somebody wanted to meet with me so that I could explain to him what I was trying to do. I was excited. I put on my black suit (the only one I had) and red shirt and went to see him. I explained the project to him and he was very excited about it. He agreed to be my partner and would help me get the sponsors. He even gave me an office so that I could keep on working on the project...

To tell you the truth, I was exhausted. So many months, running, with no help, with no job. It was tough. Really tough...

On September 1st 2004, something happened that changed my life forever. I was home, with no money at all. I mean nothing. Not even a bus ticket to go to the office. What could I do? Nothing. I had run out of all options. And then I did something that I have learned to do ever since: I prayed.

My prayer was short and simple. I just said: “Hey Big One, if you do exist, then now would be a great time for you to show up, because I need you. And I won't do anything unless you tell me. I am going to sleep, and from now on everything is out of my hands”. And I went to sleep.

Five minutes into my sleep (I did really sleep), the phone rang. It was a lady calling from an organization that I had been volunteering for as a French-English interpreter. She wanted to know if I was available. I was so available if only I could get out of my house. She told me that there was a lawyer who was looking for an interpreter and that he was willing to pay. Did you hear that? That was a song I wanted to hear in my ears. Long story short, she gave me his phone number. When I contacted the lawyer he told me that he was so desperate to find an interpreter that he was willing to come over to my place to pick me up in his car right away (do I have to remind you that I had no bus ticket to move around?).

So, he came, and I went to his office where I worked for 3 hours. As promised, he gave me a cheque. It was enough to buy a monthly pass and them some.
Do you remember my prayer to the Big One? He delivered big time and, in fact he has never stopped.

What about my big project, you may ask? It never came through. And even now, I don't know why. But I do believe everything happens for a reason. The whole thing was for me to see the Big One in action. Project or no project, I think I made a great deal, don't you think? By the way, Kobe is playing like an MVP.

Moral of the story? Do you want the Big One to show up in your life? Just go to sleep and the phone will ring.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman.