“If your dreams are high, and your beginnings are low, congratulations! Life is going to offer you something really, really BIG!” The speaker’s enthusiasm for his message had instantly injected a current of high-octane energy and anticipation in his audience, consisting of 170 lively members of the Nestle Water Business team.
“There is absolutely no reason for disappointment if you aim too high and miss your target; the only time you should feel disappointed is when you aim too low and hit it.” The audience was completely enthralled by the high-energy message of the charismatic speaker.
“Let me share a story with you, my friends: The story of a young boy whose dreams were sky-high despite the fact that his beginnings were very humble!’ The inspiring young speaker’s shining eyes and compelling voice held a firm promise to touch the hearts and souls of his audience. He projected on to the screen the image of a little boy, his luminous eyes, filled with a million dreams, carrying some magnetic power. His appearance, dress and looks, however, did not match the aspirations his eyes revealed.”
“Yes, my friends! This child’s dreams were as high as the highest mountain, but his beginnings were even more miserable then you could possibly imagine. He was born into a family that subsisted well below the poverty line, a family that was afflicted with hunger, deprivation, ill-health, inadequacy and never-ending hopelessness. He was the youngest among the eight children of a valiant father who, despite having no formal education, was a symbol of dedication, hard work, self-reliance, and perseverance. But to the world he was only a visionary laborer. ‘At the very young age of seven, he was deprived forever of his mother’s tender loving care and protection. The boy wept bitterly as he sat beside the lifeless body of his mother, who hadn’t died from some incurable disease. But the dreams his dead mother had nurtured in him remained unshaken. There was a fire and passion burning in him to raise the living standards of his family.”
The audience in the hall was caught up in the spell of the gripping story. “He never wore the clothes his heart desired nor did he ever play with the toys he craved. Some rich relatives would hand over bundles of their old used clothes to the poor family and the sensitive young boy would feel self-conscious and embarrassed about facing the same relatives or the world at large wearing cast-off garments that were not even the right fit for him.”
“In spite of being promised rewards like a bike or some other coveted item for attaining the first position in his class, his family could never honor their commitments. The prime goal for the whole family every day was how to scrape together enough to put a meal on the table. Paying the rent became almost an obsession for fear of losing the roof over their heads. The emotional turmoil prevailing in the family turned his elder brother into a drug addict. That was really the beginning of a series of unfortunate setbacks. But his dreams were still soaring, his determination to lift his family out of their miserable conditions stronger with every passing day.
As a young boy, he suffered from an acute lack of self-confidence, self-esteem and trust. He was shy, timid and withdrawn. Because of his deep-seated feelings of mistrust and humiliation at the deprived life fate had thrust upon his family, his only friends were the sufferings of his youth. His meek appearance, weak physique, and indifferent health were matters of deep concern to him. But still his dreams remained lofty and unwavering. Steadfastly following the path of his dreams, he never let discouragement or depression overcome him and succeeded in winning gold medals in the Intermediate as well as in his Bachelor’s.” And at this, the pin-drop silence in the hall was broken by the ringing echoes of applause from the audience, all of whom were thoroughly spellbound by the story.
“He got his first job after matriculation as a salesman with a local distributor of Pakistan Tobacco Company. He continued trying to sustain himself with the help of minor jobs in textile mills and other factories under tough working conditions. And with those inspiring dreams in his heart and his determination to accomplish big goals, he somehow managed to get through college.
His obsession with achieving something significant for his family had made him restless. It was unbearable for him to wait for admission to university for a whole long year. He left home and embarked on a struggling life in Lahore that would challenge every ounce of perseverance in him. Not willing to waste even a single day, he began to learn computer hardware during the mornings at Hafeez Centre, and in the evenings worked at the Jang newspaper canteen. His life was characterized by hunger, homelessness, and other similar problems.
But with God’s grace he won admission to the M. Sc. at Punjab University. Meanwhile, he worked full-time as a translator at a magazine. He wanted to start his professional life as soon as he could, but further adversity was still to come his way. During his very first year at university, his father – his best friend, his companion, his source of inspiration and, on top of everything else, his reason to accomplish something big in life – departed this world, leaving him to face life’s challenges all alone. He was totally devastated and depressed by his father’s death. He thought this was the end of his life. For a while, he seriously considered ending his life. His heart filled with grief, he did not see any hope, any purpose, any reason to live and continue his struggle to achieve success. However, his family and friends rallied around and provided him much-needed support and he decided to reconnect with his lofty dreams and his beginnings.
As he resumed his struggle for success, every kind of emotional, economic, social, mental and physical challenge that life could possibly throw at him impeded his path. It seemed as if life was really determined to test his courage, skill and resolve.
During his last year at university, he was fortunate to find a mentor who took him in hand, turned his personality inside out, challenged his beliefs and goals, guided him to study the kind of material that stirred, inspired and motivated him, and stimulated his life and intellect in an extraordinary way. That mentor had a great deal to do with making him what he is today.
When he completed his M. Sc., his family was impatiently waiting for the rewards of his success. But they had no idea that he was still being pursued by other demons, other defeats.
He was unemployed and thus had no money to fulfil the promises he had made to his family. He had none of the self-confidence needed for success. A little later he joined the visiting faculty of M.A.O. College Lahore and started teaching M. Sc. students. His monthly income was less than Rs. 1800.
He continued his struggle to create some significant success for himself, but nothing seemed to go in his favor. He knocked on dozens of doors, from ordinary street academies to the Civil Services Academy, but nobody was willing to offer him anything. Punjab University and the Pakistan Air Force rejected him twice. He also got turned down by the P.C.S., leaving him depressed and disillusioned, but he was still unwilling to let go of his lofty dreams.
His dream to become a corporate consultant appeared destined to remain unfulfilled. No company was willing to give him a chance to perform even without a fee. He indeed had nothing to show to back up his claim in terms of skills and competencies that could possibly justify his dream of becoming a consultant.
His family pressured him to join the government service and he finally gave in. This time, not only did he pass but he also attained the first position in the Public Service Commission exam. He became a lecturer at a Government Degree College in District Okara, but his unrealized dreams kept him restless.
One lesson he had learned well from his gurus was that you cannot venture into uncharted waters unless you say goodbye to the shoreline.
Finally, he mustered up the courage to bid goodbye to a college lectureship that was earning him Rs. 6210 a month, and enabling him to return something to his family. Annoying almost everyone, he decided to return to Lahore and refocus on consulting and speaking assignments. When he returned to Lahore, he found some serious challenges awaiting him: no resources, no transport, no money, no social or professional network, no experience, no place to live, no clients and no office, and worst of all no permanent source of income. But his courage remained undaunted and his dreams unwavering.
He visited dozens of companies and organizations, but came back disappointed. From hospitals to one-room clinics, he left no stone unturned, but his efforts were to no avail. The biggest predicament he had to contend with was that none of his family members believed in him. People around him started making negative comments about his character and their predictions about his future were far from flattering.
He had no place to live in Lahore. He did have some relatives, but he never felt comfortable with the idea of staying with them. Friends were not ready to tolerate him for long, except for a few really good ones, most of whom were going through the same rough time. The constant shifting of homes left him frustrated and also cost him dozens of his favorite books and the clothes he had bought with the sweat of his brow. His siblings were beginning to insist that he return to his native town as he was not only unemployed but, according to them, ‘hopeless’.
He tried his luck with countless people and launched numerous initiatives, but it began to seem as if nothing was working out for him. To those around him he gave the impression of being very motivated and with a burning desire to do something bigger, but deep down in his heart he was almost ready to throw in the towel. But every time he came close to the end, something inside him kept him going.
Finally, he launched his business as a corporate consultant, his first office address being McDonald’s LDA branch. (Actually, he just pretended to himself that this was his office though he had no address printed on his business card.) He started visiting McDonald’s daily, mostly on foot as he could not afford even public transport. People would come to meet him at McDonald’s. During those two-and-a-half financially strapped years, he NEVER ate a McDonald’s burger – simply because he couldn’t afford one. He would offer his clients only a cup of tea, and if a client asked why he was not having one himself, he would say airily, ‘Oh, I just had some tea.’
Ignoring his acute hunger pangs, he would continue reading, writing and preparing his assignments for clients. He had redirected his hunger towards success. If his hunger became unbearable, he would have a bite to eat at some small, cheap roadside café and then return to McDonald’s to continue his work. In one of the noisiest, most crowded and distracting venues, McDonald’s, not only did he prepare his initial training programs, but he also managed to write his masterpiece “Tick Tick Dollar™.” The hall was filled with an electric silence.
“Now, have you figured out why I know this boy so well?” the speaker asked in a quivering, almost tearful tone of voice, “Because he is no one else but me – Qaiser Abbas!”
Every person in the hall stood up and applauded him with eyes wet with unshed tears. My friend Qaiser Abbas was so touched by this first standing ovation given to him by the 170 enthusiastic people in the audience that he started crying like the child he once was. He found it difficult to believe that his dreams were actually coming true.
He wanted everyone to know from his own experience that there is nothing in this world that can keep people from fulfilling their most precious, seemingly impossible dreams. Turning back to the audience, he said in a voice ringing with emotion, ‘My dreams are still very high, and I still consider my beginnings very low.’
I can assure you that Qaiser Abbas is certainly living the life of his dreams today. Recently, during his motivational session in the ‘Young Leaders Conference’, Qaiser received two standing ovations. When he finished, people could not think of any better way to demonstrate their appreciation for his touching their hearts and minds than giving him one additional, unique tribute by standing on their chairs and applauding.
His purpose in life is to instill self-belief, hope and the certainty of an abundant success for everyone, especially the youth of Pakistan.
From beginnings of despair and hopelessness, with no resources, money, or capital at all, Qaiser won through to found one of the most innovative Management Training & Consulting companies, Possibilities, now operating internationally. He chose for himself the title of Chief Inspiring Officer rather than the more traditional Chief Executive Officer.
His ceaseless pursuit of excellence and his sharing of his inspiration place him on an international pedestal. Now he facilitates team-building and leadership for best-of-the-best companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, P&G, Pakistan Tobacco Company, HinoPak, Total, KSB Pumps, ORIX, & Reckitt-Benckiser, to name but a few.
He conducts training sessions for highly ranked government officials at the National Institute of Public Administration, and his training programs have also become a part of the curriculum at the Civil Services Academy. The Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Cricket Board as well have benefited from his Peak Performance training programs.
Challenging people to discover their purpose of living and then facilitating them to accomplish it – that is Qaiser’s own life’s purpose. That is his focus and he treats this mission both as his profession and his passion. To him, purpose is not about getting, it is about giving. Why? Because when you focus on giving, God liberates you from the pursuit of getting.
[This article was sent to me by Mr Qaiser Abbass, for “Prism” – our Yearly Journal]