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My Transformation Story

In: Social Issues

Submitted By olawaleadeyemi
Words 1353
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I grew up as a young man in Lagos Nigeria, learning the values of hard work, contentment, focus and integrity from my mum, who singlehandedly raised I and my two sisters, having lost our dad when she was just twenty eight and just as I neared my third birthday. However, as I grew up, it was discovered that I was a very absentminded and forgetful kid, who secretly hated schooling, but was very vocal, inquisitive, loved to read autobiographies write articles and debate with classmates and teachers and quite surprisingly, I did quite well in elementary School and even was best student in the entrance examination into secondary school. I learnt from childhood that to succeed in life I should study hard, graduate, get a good job and work at it till retirement and it became my ambition to get a good job after graduation and climb the pinnacle of success from there. However, that mindset had since changed.
At the boarding house in secondary school, I became laissez-faire about schooling and was always in trouble with seniors and even the school principal and got suspended a few times. My mum withdrew me from the school in my penultimate year to a school nearer home for close monitoring. A close friend of the family decided to mentor me and amazingly, I became more studious and serious minded and studied hard for my final exams. However, I did not make the matriculation grade to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos. My mentor therefore chaperoned me into studying Estate Management at Yaba College of Technology, with the proviso that I could return to the University of Lagos to study my dream course later. I loved the course and decided to continue and obtain direct entry into the University of Lagos at the end of my two years National Diploma course. Afterwards, I lost focus and became radical, constantly challenging the departmental authorities, especially our head of department and I got punished, as all copies of my final project mysteriously disappeared from the department, despite having been awarded a distinction by the project defense panel. The department authorities resolved that I should make fresh copies of the project and resubmit to the department. I complied with the directive and was shocked when fresh result was released and my name was conspicuously missing. I tried to fight by petitioning the College authorities, but the matter was delayed, causing me to miss out on my direct entry plans and finally when the problem was sorted, I was told that my Grade Point had dropped below the direct entry requirement. The most painful part was that some old course mates, whose interest I thought that I championed jeered at me, accusing me of being a rabble rouser and troublemaker and I almost gave up on life. In my despair, my mentor insisted that I take up a job to acquire competence and practical training, so he got me employment in a prestigious Estate Surveying and Valuation firm, where I worked hard and was considered a quality member of staff and was often given responsibilities beyond my level, but in my desperation to further my studies at the University of Lagos, I resigned my job prematurely and enrolled as a year two student of the newly established evening part- time Estate Management programme, but dropped out of the programme, when I couldn’t produce my National Diploma result. I was out of school and unemployed and thoroughly frustrated, but my mentor insisted that I move on. I got another job in a less prestigious firm, where I also worked really hard and earned the respect and admiration of all colleagues and the Principal Partner. On the insistence of a close friend and with the support of my mentor, I returned to Yaba College of Technology and obtained a Higher National Diploma from the same department and graduated top of the class. During the programme, the College closed for a full academic year and I took a job again in a start- up Estate Surveying firm, where I was responsible for major assignments. My mentor advised me to formulate plans for my working years and work towards becoming an entrepreneur eventually. I began to dream of running my own firm someday, but didn’t know how it would happen.
As I prepared for graduation, I got a job as a Facility Manager and Project Liaison officer with a construction firm and worked there for three years, serving meritoriously, but the job was not demanding and as I was getting patronage from old friends and even my employers, I started my Property Services Company on the side. In June 2010, my employers decided that they wanted to relocate abroad fulltime and stop operations and since it was sudden, I had nothing to do but to commence running my company fulltime and have become quite successful, overcoming my start- up challenges, growing the company, learning from adversity and providing employment for myself and a few others and most importantly, earning respect and admiration of clients. The most interesting part of my story is that I have served as a major source of motivation to some old classmates and other young colleagues, who have also gone to start their own companies by taking a cue from me and are also doing quite well today. I found useful my life experiences and the attributes of been inquisitive, vocal and hardworking useful in achieving my transformation. It is also instructive that my mum, teachers and mentor kept drumming it into me that I am intelligent, despite that I am very forgetful and disoriented most of the time and it has served to make me achieve all that I have.
My transformational experience validates a number of leadership concepts studied over the last three units of this programme. Worthy of mention in unit 2 is the one by J. Livingston (2003), titled “Pygmalion in Management”, which postulate that the beliefs of any superior, whether parents, teachers, bosses etc. about their subordinates become self fulfilling prophecies and it is as prevalent in elementary schools, homes as well as within organisations. The expectations of the superiors about their subordinates shape the actions and attitudes of the subordinates and the eventual outcomes.
My transformational story validates the Pygmalion theory. Although I was very forgetful as a child, my teachers considered me as very intelligent but playful and that with a little more attention to my studies, I would be a good student and it turned out just that way as I excelled in elementary school and even became the best student in the entrance examination into secondary school. When I lost focus in secondary school and turned out poor results, the belief of my mentor that I was an intelligent but misguided teenager enabled me to weather all the troubles and even when I didn’t live up to expectation, he encouraged me to snap out of my disappointment and keep moving and despite all the troubles that I faced growing up, many of which were self- inflicted, I have risen through them, failed over and over, been supported by my mentor and family and I have made progress in my life and career.

Bennis, W and R, Thomas (2002) “Crucibles of Leadership” Harvard Business Review, Reprint R0209B, pp. 39-45. Available at: (Accessed: 17th December 2014)

Laureate Education, Inc. (2012e) Transformational Story [Media], Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc. Available at: (Accessed: 18th December 2014)

Livingston, J (2003) “Pygmalion in Management”, Harvard Business Review, 81 (1), pp. 97-106.
Available at: (Accessed: 1st December 2014)

Margolis, J. & P, Stoltz (2010) 'How to Bounce Back from Adversity', Harvard Business Review 88 (1-2) pp.86-92. Available at: (Accessed: 18th December 2014)

Shamir, B & G, Eilam (2005), “What’s your story? A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development” The Leadership Quarterly 16 pp 395–417, Available at:, Accessed from: (Accessed: 18th December 2014)

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