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Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Journey to a Sudden Change

I am watching a Basketball game and I am amazed at how the young Oklahoma City team is challenging the Lakers (sorry Diego). I can't believe how this team has improved in one year. No wonder their coach was named the NBA coach of the year for this season.

I have said so many times, Basketball is really like the school of life. A couple of years ago, the Boston Celtics won a championship mainly by adding two players (but great ones) to their roster. A year before that, they were one of the worst teams in the league. We can say that it was a sudden change.

This week I had a very inspiring experience of that sudden change. Part of my work is to help French speaking new immigrants to Toronto. It is a rewarding job at many levels; I have the opportunity to build many friendships.

In 2004, as I was a rookie in my work (and less good looking lol), I helped a guy with his immigration process. This was one of the “down” moments in his life. I didn't even know how I could help him. I did my best and he was satisfied (can I get a pay raise please?)

Fast forward. Two weeks ago I received a call from the guy asking me if we could meet. He wanted some help, so I agreed to meet. I couldn't believe what I saw when I met him. He looked great. He was happy, wearing a nice suit and the smile on his face told me that it was a different guy compared to what I saw few years back.
We talked a little bit and he told me that he had to go to have lunch with his wife. As I was going in the same direction, he agreed to give me a ride (I am always open to opportunities).

We walked towards the parking lot, and when we got to his car, I hesitated to enter it. I couldn't believe it was HIS car. This was unbelievable!! What a car! A brand new and shining BMW. The surprise did not stop there. He told me that he bought it cash and that his wife was driving a Mercedes! Oh, by the way, he bought a house too...

What a change!! He told me his entire story and I was both amazed and inspired. The image I had of him was his face in 2004 when I first met him. Now he was so different. What changed? I really don't know. All I could tell was that it's hard to judge where we are in life by what we are going through. We may be close to our goal without even knowing it. A change can suddenly happen. The key is to never give up.

The story reminded me of the time I heard someone explaining the difference between “truth” and “fact”. The facts can sometimes be misleading. But the truth never changes. For example, as I am writing now, it's 11 O'clock at night. The fact is that it is dark outside, but the truth is that the sun is shinning even though I can't see it. What picture do I see? Do I have to rely on the facts, or do I have to know the truth? In a moment, the facts can change. Suddenly, the Boston Celtics became champions, suddenly the Oklahoma City team can now challenge the champions, and suddenly you can meet me (I know that is one of your dreams lol).

Moral of the story? Do you want a sudden change in your life? Come to see me and you will buy a

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Journey to a Decision

As I am beginning a new week, I can't believe how quickly the last one went (and all the previous ones). Normally I write my blogs on Saturdays, but this time I only got a little time to write this Monday morning (please don't fire me).

I find it funny that when we are dealing with something, the entire world reminds us of exactly what we are dealing with. Just the other day, I went to the Toastmasters meeting and the theme was about having a break. I was like “please don't talk about it, I just need a break now”. This lead me to a deep reflection. “Why am I this busy?” This has been THE question that has been on my mind the last few days. I can't remember a time I was not busy, but THIS busy? Not a chance.

I made sure to take a break this week-end and to watch some Playoffs Basketball. Some trash talking with friends at Ngoma lounge did some good for me (free advertising for my friend Diego and a reminder to my friend Che that Orlando will go all the way to the Finals...)

Coming back to my Toastmaster ' s meeting, we were asked to speak about what we normally do to relax and have a break. My first reaction was “ I need some sleep man.” But, then the question came back: Why am I THIS busy?. Then, I went on stage, for about 1 minute and 49 seconds, I explained to the audience that my new way of relaxing is to say the word “NO”. You got it right. I need to say no to some commitments. This is the reason why I am this busy. I am the kind of guy who rarely says no to people (just tell me you will give me money, and you will see. I won't say no. This is a problem my friends..)

Don't get me wrong. It feels good to say yes to people. But when it comes to deliver and I realized that I have overbooked myself, I feel trapped and then comes the issue of integrity (and this is a big one). I learned a few weeks ago that without integrity nothing works. I couldn't agree more. If I say yes to something, I have to make sure that I do it. That is how I am.

To say that learning to say “no” is the only challenge would be an overstatement. I think there is something deeper than that. Why? You may ask..

This is why: I have learned over the years that whenever I make a decision to do something big, something I have never done before, something that is way outside my comfort zone, challenges always come right away. Don't ask me why, but that is how it is. These challenges are very good news for me. This is the proof that I am going in the right direction. It may seem silly, but challenges are good news. They are there to ask us if we really mean business, if we are really the kind of person who is made for the big game. And people who have overcome big challenges are people that we remember the most. Why is it that Nelson Mandela is loved by everybody? It's the result of 27 years of prison (that is my opinion)

My other opinion is that challenges are the door to the promise land. After we have dealt with them, the door is now open and we can see on the other side. Then come other challenges, sometimes bigger than the previous ones. However, now we know we can deal with them (isn't life beautiful?).

Yes, I have made a decision to make a push. And there is no turning back (Yes we can!). The challenge that came right away was being extremely busy. Am I really busy, or is it a sign that I have to let go of commitments that are not worth it (do I really have to stop watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Please don't ask me to. They are so funny). Am I busy, or do I have to rely on my calender to book my appointments? Am I so busy, or do I have to discipline myself and wake up earlier (and this is a big one, and I know I am not the only one).

These are the questions I have to respond to before saying that I can see the promise land.

Moral of the story? Whenever you say you are going to give me some money, I will say no (for a short period of time before saying yes.)

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Journey to the Unknown

Do you remember a while ago I wrote about my journey to Las Vegas? If you do not, then I won't get back to it because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (even in my blog lol)

I mention that story because, as I was celebrating Easter with my brother and my sister-in-law, what I had learned in Vegas was constantly on my mind. You will understand why as you keep on reading (this is my way of making you read my blog to the end).

As I was saying, I celebrated Easter with my brother and my sister-in-law (I said it again just in case you forgot). As I was listening to my sister-in-law jokes (she is so funny), my mind went back to the year 2000. My brother's dream was to immigrate to Canada. At that time I had no intentions of leaving my home country
( probably because I didn't want to leave my beautiful girlfriend at the time lol). My brother continually spoke about his dream. What's funny is that I was the first one to come to Canada even though it was my brother's dream.

The way he came to Canada is almost a Hollywood story. As I landed here in 2002, I kept in touch with him almost daily and continually told him of the many beautiful things about Canada (maybe I should be a salesman). This only increased his desire to fulfil his dream of living in this beautiful country. His first attempt was denied and needless to say he was very devastated. I tried my best to let him know that it wasn't over until he said it was (I learned that from watching Michael Jordan). He kept believing.

Some time later my brother received a job offer to be a University professor (talking about Mr. Big Shot) in the North of the country. He did not want to go there at all. It was away from home, there was no Internet connection (to keep in touch with me I guess), and it was away from his favourite bar (just kidding).

He decided to take it anyways, and was away every week-end and even longer in some cases.

My brother is a hard worker. Whenever he does something,it is never half way done (I just earned a free lunch from his wife lol).It was his hard work at the University that led to his promotion in less than a year.

Then, came an opportunity to go to study in Belgium. It was not his dream country but he took it anyways (did he have a choice?). I was so happy for him (also because I could call him with a one dollar phone card lol. Just kidding). While in Europe ,he learned that he could apply for Canadian immigration. Could that be true? Could his dream come true at last? Yes it did. He was accepted as an immigrant, and at the end of his studies in 2006, he finally came to Canada to meet his handsome, brilliant and amazing brother (I wonder who that one is...)

During his stay in Europe, something happened that changed his life forever (I have to wait a little bit and will get back to you when Jon Stewart is done with his jokes...).

Ok, here is the remainder of the story. Where was I again? Oh, Europe!!

My brother went to spend his summer vacations in England at my best friend's place. There he met a lady who made him not want to call me anymore. He was then busy calling her. The lady he met was the one I spent last Easter with: his wife and therefore my sister-in-law. Do you know what is the best part of the story? His wife was one of my former students when I was back home. Yes, I was her teacher. Can you believe that? No wonder the three of us always have fun when we're together.

I am sure that you are asking yourselves why I mentioned my trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of this story. Don't worry. I will tell you.

In Las Vegas, our trainer said that for us to achieve our goal it is about 100% intention and 0% method. In other words, our intention is what matters. How we get there is none of our business. Think about my brother's story. His intention was to go to Canada. He did not know that this intention would lead him to the North of the country (where he did not want to go) to be a professor (which allowed him to get his scholarship), then to Belgium (miles away from Canada, but where he was accepted as an immigrant to Canada), to England (where he met his future wife), and then to Toronto (where he joined his rich brother lol). If someone would have told him that this would be his path to Toronto, he would have not believed him or her.

We can decide how we want our future to be, but how to get there is always unknown.

Moral of the story? Do you want to join me in Canada, go to England and you will meet your future wife (or husband).

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Journey back home 

I ended my last blog by saying “Special message to the one who is reading my blog from Dubai ”.

As I was chatting with “The one reading my blog from Dubai ”, she asked me if I could write about my journey back home, and here I am. Your wish is my command, as it is stated in the movie “The Secret”.

 After six years away from home, it took me two minutes to decide it was time to go back (actually, these were two minutes after I received money I was not expecting lol). To tell the truth (not that I was lying before), I was so excited, but I did not know what to expect. After making that decision to visit, with the exception of my mom, my brother and one friend, nobody knew I was coming (that was my way of avoiding the paparazzi lol).

 It was a sunny day in May when I landed in my cherished homeland. On my flight from Kenya , I was sitting with a guy from the US who was travelling to Africa for the first time. I told him I was a fellow North American from Canada , and he started asking me about my country of origin. I was proud to tell him everything I knew about this wonderful country that I was so excited to see after six long years. I warned him though not to worry about looking for his gate number at the airport seeing that there was only one gate. After we landed and while exiting the plane he noticed the building to which he exclaimed “Is that it!!!??”
I was rolling with laughter.

What a joy!!! It was so great to see the place again. My mom and my brother were waiting for me at the airport. It was good timing too because my brother was also visiting home after spending four years in South Africa .

 As my brother was driving on our way home, I started laughing. This country has really changed, I said. There were more people in the streets, people riding bicycles and motorcycles all over the place and I even saw cows in the streets. Drivers were horning like crazy. It was a surreal experience within a spectacular view.

Then something hit me. This place had never changed!!! I changed. I became accustomed to a different view after spending six years away from this beautiful country.

I started to think: Isn’t this funny? When we change on the inside, it seems as if the entire world also changes around us. It was at that moment that the quote from Gandhi came alive within me. He said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” How beautiful is that!

Since then, every time I face any adversity, I just change my view about it and it goes away. I acknowledge that this is easier said than done, but it works.
Moral of the story? Are you facing any adversity? Just visit my home country, and your challenge will go away.

Always a pleasure,
The Journeyman.