While working with the United Nations in Pakistan, I attended a training session with Wali on Young Women in Leadership (Y-WIL) in February 2010. He was the first trainer in the year-long program which was a huge drawback for us; because the benchmark he set was too high for his successors to meet!
For me, the highlight of not only the two-day session, but, the whole one-year program, was a life lesson that has changed my view of life. In a cold February afternoon, Wali said to our group: “You can lead a happier and more content life if you take the path of least resistance.”
It has taught me to not let go of humility in times of triumph, and, to accept the failures gracefully. Like Henry Ford said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” It is, undoubtedly, one of the best lessons I have learned in my life and has helped me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It has made me a better, happier and more content person.
The transition from becoming a pessimist to an optimist has anything, but, easy. Nonetheless, every bump in the road has been worth it. It is one of the things that keeps me going during my tough times. The change in my personality is evident from a compliment I recently received: “Hajra, you have a way of finding peace in almost all situations and it’s admirable.”
After getting married three years ago, I moved to the UAE. During my early days in Abu Dhabi, I met with Wali again who happened to be visiting for a training session. Being a career-oriented woman, the path to becoming a full-time homemaker, at least temporarily, wasn’t easy. It was a short coffee meeting in one of his breaks. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of getting his take on a career change.
Having worked only in development sector in Pakistan, which is next to non-existent in UAE, finding my calling wasn’t easy. I was looking at him to point me in the right direction to which his response was: “What you can do for yourself, no advice can. This is the way I teach. I make people find their way.” To be honest, I was a little baffled at that time but I can’t thank him enough to encourage me to find my own passion.
I explored a lot of options, and, resultantly, turned to teaching which has given me immense satisfaction. Being able to impact young minds is undoubtedly a huge responsibility. But it is satisfying to know that you have helped widen someone’s horizons. If I am able to do a quarter of what Wali did for me for even one of my students, I will be the happiest person in the world!
Thank you Wali for being a positive influence on me and on countless others. You are truly an inspiration!
Based in Abu Dhabi, Hajra Atiq Omar teaches standardized tests such as SAT, GRE, GMAT, IELTS and TOEFL and business management subjects to Bachelors and Masters students and is a mom.