In this new series of blog posts, we will be looking at stories of highly successful people who overcame extreme challenges to get to where they wanted to be. All of us face obstacles to our dreams. It is a fact of life that pursuing our passions will not be a walk in the park. Often we expect it to be, and this is understandable, considering today’s cultural norm of instant gratification. The reality is, it takes patience, endurance, hard work and often a lot of waiting before we reach our goal, whatever that might be. But these inspirational people whose lives we will be learning about over the next few months have one thing in common: their passion was strong enough to keep them on their path, though they struggled with poverty, disadvantage, lack of opportunities, and were often on the wrong side of prejudice and discrimination.
Malala Yousafzai was born and brought up in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where her family ran a chain of schools. The region was frequently occupied by the Taliban’s extremist military rule, which involved fierce opposition to the education of girls. As a result of this, thousands of girls were banned from schools.
In 2009, Malala began blogging for BBC Urdu about her challenging experiences of life under Taliban oppression. Quickly, her public profile increased, as she and her father took part in a documentary by the New York Times about her life. This was very risky, as she and her family were openly opposing the regime’s aims. However, she was becoming a great source of inspiration around the world, as Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Aged 14, she received life-threatening injuries when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head. She remained unconscious for over a week. Her attempted assassination opened the floodgates, as she was overwhelmed and inundated with support and encouragement from all over the world. She became a source of inspiration for milllions. Since her recovery, she has founded the Malala foundation, and written an inspiring autobiography, as well as becoming the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
She continues to be a prominent activist, campaigning for women’s rights in education in her home country and beyond.
Inspiration for you:
Notice how Malala’s biggest setback became her biggest launchpad?
Often times, when look back on our past, we can be surprised at how obstacles and challenges we faced that appeared to take away our power and make us weak actually gave us long term advantage, as we are tested and pushed. When this happens, we are forced to dig deep and draw on reserves of strength and determination we never would have knew we had if we had stayed comfortable.
If you are facing something right now in your own life, take courage, and be patient. Ride this wave, in the knowledge that when you come through this, you will be grateful for the growing it forced you to do!
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