I moved to Canada, from Kenya (East Africa), at the age of fifteen without my parents. At that time they could not afford eight airline tickets so they sent me with my 17-year-old sister to live in Alberta, where most of our relatives lived.
In Kenya, it’s always 30 Celsius (86 F) and humid. I grew up in a gated community and it was very common to visit the neighbors uninvited. It’s also customary to hire servants to cook and clean because this creates jobs.
Imagine going from having everything done for you to having to do it all yourself at fifteen. Going from a sheltered life where all I knew was homework and play to a life where I was responsible for all sorts of things I’d never done before like paying bills and grocery shopping. Imagine coming to a country where most of the year the temperature is below 0 Celsius (32 F) and the sense of community is not the same.
All of this would have been plenty to deal with, but it wasn’t my biggest problem. The problem that paralyzed me was a speech impediment. I stuttered.
Fast forward twenty years later; I’m now a transformational speaker and small business owner. Getting to my goal took effort, commitment, consistency, and learning how to find solutions whenever I felt my back was against the wall.
Have there been times where you’ve been placed in a situation where you are in conflict or you feel stuck and don’t have a clue on how to move forward?
Life will present with you obstacles and problems, but instead of getting overwhelmed and feeling like there’s no way out, act as if you have the resources to solve the problem.
There are several ways to reframe a problem. Reframing means changing the way you look at the problem so you can easily find a solution. Here are four easy examples of reframing:
- Back to the Future
What if you could step two or six months into the future and look back to now and ask yourself, “What did I do to overcome the problem?” When I stuttered, I avoided public speaking situations until my third year in university where I couldn’t avoid it anymore because we had to present projects in class. I imagined myself in the future presenting my project in class with great ease and I asked myself, how can I get the skills to speak with ease? The answer that came to me: speech therapy.
- Mentor Magic
We all have someone we look up to because we admire them. Who do you look up to? Pretend you are your mentor and step into your mentor’s shoes and ask yourself, as the mentor, “If I were ( mentor’s name), what would I do to overcome this problem?” Make sure you are seeing life through his/her eyes and listening through his/her ears. After graduating from University, I entered the field of public health and was faced with various challenging situations where I had to make decisions. This was very difficult because I didn’t have the confidence yet to decide which decision would be the right one. Instead of sweating it out, I’d step into one of my supervisors who I admired and asked myself, “If I were him, what would I do?”
What if you had all the information you needed to find a solution? What information would you use from your toolbox to change the circumstance you are in right now? When my husband and I decided to start a wellness centre, we were faced with many obstacles on how to run the operations side of the business. I knew there were other wellness centres in cities nearby, including the massage school my husband had enrolled in. We thought who better to ask than the people who run similar businesses including the owner of the massage school. Therefore, tap into resources that you already have and be courageous and ask for what you want.
- Superhero Magic
Everyone had a superhero as they were growing up, and mine was Wonder Woman. I loved how she’d spin to go from being ordinary to being extraordinary! What if you could be your superhero, or better yet, what if you imagined slipping into that superhero costume (you may even have an old Halloween picture to remind you!)? If you had the power to change one thing, what would you do to change something within your problem? I wish I had the magic to make my speech more fluent instantly, but of course that did not happen. However, I knew I had the magic within me, my own power, to go from ordinary to extraordinary; to go from a girl who felt she had no voice to a woman who now inspires others to find their VOICE. I practiced my new speech skills everyday so I could communicate effectively. You have that same magic within you to make a difference in your life and that of others. Tenacity is the key to resiliency.
Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and a business owner in Alberta, Canada. Embracing change and fear is Zaheen’s trademark because she overcame her speech impediment, her struggles with weight and learned to live in a new country, at the age of 15, without her parents. Her book, The Resilience Reflex – 8 Keys to Transforming Barriers into Success in Life and Business, became an International Best-Seller on Amazon Kindle. Zaheen teaches people how to make resilience their first reflex using her 3-step system: Release, Re-program and Resolve. She can be reached at http://www.zaheennanji.com
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Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl?
This is one of many reader entries designed to encourage and inspire other women to rise to the challenge and follow their dreams. Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl? Share your story!