And once again we are over the period when we summarized the year. We looked back at what we achieved in past few months and we analyzed why certain things didn’t go so well. We try to understand the reason of the failure, learn from it and eventually make a New Year’s resolution to change it or improve it. Psychologist tell us that more than a half of the population (mainly in what some call Western civilization) make New Year’s resolution: we want to lose weight, we want to do more exercise, we want to quit smoking, we want to eat healthier, we want to change our job, we want to have better work-life balance, we want to read more, we want to improve our finances, we want to…
And yet more often than not, our resolutions fail. Researchers indicate that almost 90% of New Year’s resolutions turn into failure because we set unrealistic goals, we don’t keep track at our progress, we make too many resolutions at a time and by February our goals are forgotten. Some even say that the resolutions are a cultural habit, a routine we have at the beginning of every year but in reality we are not ready to change anything and deep inside we are not committed to an improvement.
Whenever I hear about failures and personal goals not met I recall a story. Some time ago I visited a school for deaf mute kids in Morocco. I have been attending various classes for two days and I saw very little difference comparing to classes in regular schools for kids with no disabilities. I saw incredibly talented and very smart kids. And I saw some lazy, bored and cheating students. The only remarkable difference was that these classes were not so noisy. In one of the classrooms I noticed a 12 years old girl who was notably outperforming the others, she was very confident, completely fluent in the sign language and seemed to know the answers to all teacher’s questions. I was more than sure that this was result of her hard work during many years she had been visiting this special school. But when I talked to the teacher after the class I was really speechless. The girl joined the school just a year ago! Until then she didn’t dominate the sign language. She lived in a very poor family in the Moroccan countryside 40 km far from this school for deaf mute children, both of her parents were illiterate. And she had one dream. She wanted to learn what her name was. Her parents couldn’t write it and she couldn’t hear when they called her name. Somehow the girl did manage to convince her parents to let her go to the school and at the age of 11 her dream came true. She learned her name was Amira which in Arabic means princess. Since then Amira started to discover a whole new world.
Each time I hear stories about forgotten New Year’s resolutions, stories of not achieved personal goals and failed dreams I remember Amira. She didn’t come up with her dream at the beginning of a new year, she didn’t talk loud about her goal and she didn’t spend time reading all the smart strategies about how to achieve personal goals. It was her huge drive, willingness to learn and limitless determination that helped her to overcome the obstacles, be it her physical disability or the long distance to school she had to go every morning and every afternoon. Whenever I am dealing with a difficult situation I wish to meet Amira again to tell her how much influence she has on me and on my students, my clients who heard about her story and who have decided to take the long journey of cross-cultural skills development.
For 2016 I wish you all keep Amira in mind while following your personal goals and resolutions.