Over the past 6 months, I have achieved more success than I have in all my previous years combined. I got admitted to the MBA programs at Stanford (with a hefty fellowship), Wharton and Cambridge, was selected as a finalist in Uganda’s Young Achievers of the Year awards, got invited to speak at Horasis’ Global Meeting, got chosen to join the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders Africa cohort, got selected by Forbes Africa to join their Under 30 Class of 2018, and my companies (EzeeMoney & EasyTicket) are thriving more than they ever have. Midas touch? Not necessarily!
Many times, people will only know the successes and not the struggles and failures that came before these wins. For example, this was my third time applying to business school. In 2016, I applied to Stanford, Harvard & MIT and got rejected by all three without an interview. In 2017, I applied to Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Wharton, Cambridge, and Columbia and got rejected by ALL six schools, albeit with interviews at the last three. I’ve applied to numerous business competitions and personal awards but never quite made the cut. I’ve had failed business ventures and had near misses in many professional endeavors. I’ve definitely contemplated quitting many more times than I’d like to admit and have had my fair share of pity parties. Two key learnings from these experiences.
Timing is everything
You’d be surprised what could happen in a short period of time. It was just six months between my 2017 & 2018 MBA applications (from rejection to admission) and I still don’t quite understand how I could have evolved from a reject into a sought-after applicant. I have chosen to believe that what you deserve will come to you, if you work for it, when the time is right. The best you can do is try to lay the foundation to receive those blessings. And many times you’ll feel you’ve reached a cul-de-saq. But you must reflect, adjust and persevere!
Protect your dreams
You won’t believe how many times I was told to give up on my “Stanford dream” even by my own mothers (I have two)! Their intentions were good—they said they hurt more each time I got rejected—but this was something I have wanted to do for a long time and I just kept doubling down. I had to give up so much in the pursuit of this “success” that eluded me. Protecting your dreams won’t be easy, achieving what you truly want hardly ever is, but once you get there, it will be utterly fulfilling. The joy I have experienced in these last six months has made every single tear, drop of sweat, heartbreak, and sacrifice worth it!
Some last words, don’t look at whatever you do in isolation. Every action you take on the path to your version of success will compound. You can only truly know the significance of your decisions when you look back. As Steve Jobs said, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.