THE INVINCIBLE POWER OF VISION
I will be talking about The Power of Vision and making reference to my journey; my journey to where I am today; I am here today as a result of vision. I am who I am today as a result of vision. My children are who/ where they are today as a result of vision. Before I proceed, I would like to lay emphasis of various definitions of vision.
- Vision is seeing the end at the very beginning.
- Vision is an internalized mental picture of your ideal life, of your preferred life.
- Vision is an internalized mental picture of your purpose, and I am here today as a result of my purpose. I had a clear mental image of my purpose, of the reason why I was born and placed on earth.
- Vision is being able to see beyond the physical barriers of the eyes and start planning and preparing for what you saw beyond the physical barriers of the eyes.
- Vision is our ability to break down barriers where they are present – the barriers of our past, present, our current conditions, circumstances, and reality. When those barriers cannot be broken,
- Vision is our inherent ability to see beyond those barriers.
Now, as a seven-year-old girl back in the beautiful nation of Cameroon in the West of Africa, I dreamt of becoming a doctor. Precisely, I dreamt of becoming a gynaecologist. I had a vison to one day become a gynaecologist, study in Italy, and settle in the United Kingdom. Why? I was inspired by a gynaecologist in my neighbourhood. He was an outstanding gynaecologist. He studied in Italy, and I thought if you had to become an outstanding gynaecologist, then you had to study in Italy – Italy was the deal, never mind the mindset of the seven-year-old girl. Then, the reason I wanted to settle in the United Kingdom is because I come from Cameroon. I am currently British Cameroonian. Cameroon is a bilingual nation, and I come from the English-speaking region of Cameroon, and I wanted to settle in a nation where English was a first language. I didn’t want to bring up my children in a nation where English was not the first language.
At the tender age of seven, I had this vision that was clear, it was decisive. It didn’t matter to me whether my dad or my parents would have what it takes to ensure that I can fly over to Italy from Cameroon to study there. That was not my concern. That was not my problem. I didn’t even think then that you needed a visa. There were some barriers that I had to overcome in order to study in Italy. Again, this was not my concern. All that I was concerned about was my vision, was my dream, and I knew whatever I could dream I could achieve. My amazing dad has always told me that ‘whatever you believed in you could achieve’. So, this guided my every action, my decisions.
As a result of my vision, I could not lead a certain lifestyle. My vision brought me clarity. My vision gave me direction. I had to study hard. I had to be devoted. I couldn’t get involved in any kind of friendship or relationships. I couldn’t drink alcohol, become whatever it is, get into drugs and all of that. I had focus and clarity.
The power of vision;
- it creates clarity,
- it gives you direction,
- it creates focus, and discipline.
I was disciplined. I was focused. I had a clear direction, and I worked hard until the moment came when it was time for me to go to university after my A-Level results, and off I went to the capital of Cameroon where I could study the Italian language. You needed to study the language before you could travel to Italy, and of course there was an examination to take to ensure that you could speak Italian well, and to ensure you could also read and write Italian well before you could actually proceed with your applications to be able to study in Italy. And off I went. I was to live with my elder sister, and her husband, and to study the language.
Did everything go so easily as I had envisaged? Obviously, no. We studied the language, I think it was for six months, once a week. After six months, we were ready to take an examination. In the year in which I was supposed to take the examination, the criteria had been changed, and the standards had been raised higher than before. You had to score more than average to be able to make it so that you could have an opportunity to study in Italy in the university of your choice. We had two different classes or sessions, one for the anglophone Cameroonians in the capital of Cameroon, and one for the francophones. Then we had some other students who studied in the economic capital. The reason for this is that Italian is a Neo-Latin language so it is far easier for the francophone Cameroonians to study and understand Italian than it is for the anglophones or the English-speaking Cameroonians. Hence, there was this distinction.
And then, after the six months we took the examination, which was the decisive moment, and guess what? The results were out. Until then, I had never failed an examination in my life. I was an outstanding student. I’ve always been an outstanding student. If I wanted to do extremely well, I did extremely well. Of course, I always wanted to do extremely well. Sometimes was I distracted? Yes. But I still did well.
So, I had never failed an examination in my life, but guess what? When the results came out, Sylvia didn’t make it. This meant Sylvia’s dream of studying in Italy, of becoming a gynecologist in Italy, had to come to an end. You know what? Vision is kind of living a reality that you’ve seen in your mind, you could feel it, you could touch it, you could experience it. By then I was nineteen, which meant I had lived with this dream from the age of 7 to 19, it was so alive, it was my reality, I could feel it, and I was not ready to back off, because I was told I failed an examination when I spoke Italian very well. I was one of the best students in my class – I’d love to be humble to say that, I could better say the best student. I spoke the Italian language already. My teacher loved me, as well as the others who were outstanding in my class. But everyone in my class failed, including me. Yes, as I told you, the bar has been raised higher. Is that an excuse? Absolutely no. If others could make it, why should I not make it? If I’m telling you I’ve never failed an examination, how come I couldn’t make it?
What did I do? I wasn’t ready to give up. My dream was so powerful, it had become my reality. It had become a part of my being, of my very essence. I wasn’t going to introduce a new Sylvia to my parents, to my dad. I wasn’t going to call him and tell him immediately that I failed the examination, and that’s it, Daddy, I can no longer go to Italy. You were ready to sacrifice for me to go to Italy, but I’m sorry. I messed up. I wasn’t ready. I told my elder sister I had another plan. I had another agenda because I’ve seen this so clearly. This was my reality. My reality was not what was presented in front of me.
Remember, vision is seeing beyond the physical barrier of the eyes. The physical barriers of the eyes could see the results of the Italian language examination I took, and it said you’ve failed, you couldn’t proceed to seek admission, and hence study in Italy. My vision saw beyond that. I was going to call and speak to the Italian ambassador for Cameroon. I was going to call the Italian ambassador’s home – why? I knew I was only a little 19-year-old girl. They would not give me access to the Italian ambassador if I called the Italian embassy. They would ask why, and who am I to change the course of a national examination that had always been done that way and the results were final? Hence, I was going to call the ambassador’s home. Did I have his number? No. This meant I had to search for his number. I got the telephone directory. I told my older sister I was going to call the ambassador. I wasn’t asking for an opinion because obviously she would have told me ‘Sylvia, come on. Just let go. They won’t even listen to you!’ I was simply telling her because I was going to use her phone, so it was out of respect and courtesy. I had to make this call.
I took the phone directory, got the number, and I called the ambassador and had this powerful phone-call, life-changing phone-call. The phone rang and on the other side somebody picked it up. I heard a female voice. “Hello.” And I responded. “Hello.” I spoke in Italian: “Good evening.” I introduced myself, who I was, why I was calling, and she went further to know more about the reason for my call. All of this conversation was in Italian. Pure, undiluted Italian. I explained to her how the new system meant all of us, the anglophones, had failed the examination yet we spoke Italian very well, and how I was speaking to her in Italian. I was the best student in my class, we had incredible students, but none of us made it. And I was making a request – if they could give us another chance, yes, a second chance. And this time, they could do whatever they wanted but I actually requested for them to do an oral examination, so they could test our ability to speak the Italian language. She got my request, and she made a request. She asked me to put down everything I’ve just told her in writing, and take it to the embassy and when her husband, the ambassador, gets back home she was going to tell him about that call and he would be expecting my letter in the embassy. I was super excited – I thanked her, and she congratulated me for speaking Italian so well, and I’m like ‘yes ma’am, that’s why I’m asking for a second chance, not only for myself but for many of my friends who didn’t make it, yet they spoke incredible Italian.’
I called my friends in excitement. I told them about the great news, and we arranged to meet the next day. I called my teacher, the reverend’s sister, and she was so excited. She was devastated – no-one in her class made it, her best students didn’t make it. I asked her if she was willing to endorse the letter once it was written, and of course she was willing to do that. She was excited and honored to do that. I couldn’t wait for the next day. I called my friends and we met together, and we drafted the letter. Put everything down. It’s rather unfortunate that I didn’t keep a copy of that letter. I can’t remember the content, but I guess we were requesting as I had spoken with the ambassador’s wife, a second chance, an oral examination, besides another written examination. We took this letter the next day, we went our teacher’s house. She was so excited to see us – She was in the convent. We went there, she welcomed us, she endorsed the letter, went through, and gave me back the letter. I was ready to take the letter to the Italian embassy the next day. I took the letter and gave it to the secretariat and let them know that I had come to hand in a letter I had been told to bring for the ambassador.
Now there was not enough time, as those who had already made the examinations were getting ready to travel to Italy. The admissions had been sent to their various universities of choice; they were preparing their bank statements, flights, tickets, to travel, to begin to their studies in a new country, while all those other anglophones had given up their dreams of travelling to Italy to study. I guess they must have been looking for other alternatives and options, but I was not ready to give up. Why?
- I had a vision.
- I had a dream, at the tender age of 7, that I was going to study in Italy. I was going to settle in the United Kingdom once I had finished with my studies.
- My vision and dream were alive.
- My vision/dream was my reality. I wasn’t going to back off. I wasn’t going to go for a plan B.
One week after the letter was handed in, a call was made. A national call, not only for those in the capital of Cameroon, but everyone who had taken the examination, especially the anglophones who had not made it. I guess those who had made it beyond the average, because they did not call everyone of course. Those who had passed, I don’t know how they did that. But of course, everyone was called to the embassy, the Italian embassy for another opportunity. For another chance. For an oral examination.
The power of vision. A 19-year-old girl who would not say no to the reality. Whose vision created a powerful conviction within her that whatever you dreamed and saw in your mind, whatever your mind could see and conceive, you could achieve. Whose vision ensured that she wouldn’t give up like others did. And she gave opportunities to many more Cameroonians who went to the embassy.
An oral test was given, and that was it. The results were given immediately, and of course, I made it. And that was it. I was so excited. I wasn’t interested in telling any of the other people that I was behind this. It didn’t matter. My goal was to lead the way, my goal was to become all that I’ve dreamt to become, and of course, when you have a vision, your vision is far bigger than you. It’s made for others; others have to benefit from that vision. And I didn’t tell anyone. I never spoke about this. Many of those Cameroonians who had that second chance to make their dreams become a reality did not even know who was behind this. I left, and the first time I ever spoke about this was in an HSBC conference, a leadership conference we organized in partnership with the HSBC for their small and medium sized businesses, and I spoke about the power of vision. For the first time in my life, I felt the urge to tell this story. Maybe it was time to be made known, maybe it was meant to inspire and encourage someone who has given up on their dreams, on their vision. To step back on track, to go back to that vision, and maybe that’s why I’m sharing my journey with you in this Newsletter today.
I come to transform your minds, to unveil your purpose, unveil your vision, do not settle for the norm, do not settle for the reality, do not settle for nobody. Yes, that was the reality. I was told I failed, but my vision was far bigger than the reality. Your vision is not of this world. It’s in the mind, it’s a mental picture. You realize that vision when you take the picture off your mind and write it down and make it concrete, that’s what I did. And I want to inspire you right now to ponder on the following as you read this:
- What is it you’ve settled for?
- What is that dream of yours you’ve given up on because someone told you that you cannot achieve it? You cannot have that life you desire.
Let me tell you this: if you desire it, then you can have it. Desire is a force, is an energy that I believe God places in us to guide us towards the things, the greatness that we are called to have and become, so we don’t settle for any less. If you conceive it, you can give birth to it, yes. Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve. Even in the Holy Bible it says, if only you believe you can say to this mountain be moved, and it will be moved. What is your dream? What is your vision? What are those beliefs that you used to hold about your current challenges, circumstances, conditions? Maybe your health, your financial status, have made you give up on those dreams. I come to stir up a desire within you again. I come to stir up that vision. I come to bring it alive again. I come to remind you. Everything is possible, and anything is possible. You are a creator. You are created in the image of the divine. You don’t expect anyone to pave the way, to create that life for you. Yes, people might not have been able to create that way, to go to that destination. You are the first. In the history of my country, there has never been any oral lessons or examinations to go to Italy until I stepped in as a visionary, as a leader, to pave the way based on what I believed. I had seen myself in Italy, speaking the language, studying there, and becoming all that I dreamt of becoming. My vision was driving me. I was vision-driven. Not reality-driven. I was driven by my vision and not by my sight. Today, I come to inspire and encourage you. May you be driven by your vision and not by your sight. What can you see – you can only go as far as you can see.