The psychology behind achieving against all odds

Wanele and Wandile Ganya and Ntokozo Qwabe all faced challenges that could have prevented them from reaching their goals, but they achieved against all odds. We spoke to author, life coach and motivational speaker Simon T Bailey to find out how we can all do this

When you grow up in a community where there are no opportunities that will help you to prosper, where you don’t have mentors to help mould you, or the support system that allows you to reach your brilliance, it’s difficult to reach your full potential.

But it’s not impossible. There are those who have refused to let their circumstances define them and who have managed to reach their full potential.

When most people think of Khayelitsha township in the Western Cape, the two things that come to mind are crime and gangsterism.

But twin brothers Wanele and Wandile Ganya refused to fall into the trap of allowing the challenges in their community to define their future.

Growing up in the crime-infested community and raised on a domestic worker’s salary was never going to stop the two brothers from reaching their goals.

One brother will now graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine degree, while the other will be graduating with a Bachelor of Surgery degree.

“Growing up in a disadvantaged community motivated us to dream bigger, and knowing where we came from also helped us to work harder,” the Ganya brothers say. They were also inspired by other people who came from their communities such as Dr Vuyani Mhlomi.

The brothers are just two examples of people who have achieved great things against all odds.

Every word you say changes your life. I had to stop talking about how bad the situation was and I had to start talking about what I was going to do about it.

Ntokozo Qwabe is another inspiring young man who had to drop out of university because of financial constraints.

Instead of sitting at home and complaining, Qwabe got a job as a cashier so he could save up for his tuition fees. Two years later he returned to university and finished his law degree with brilliant marks.

His achievements – 17 recommendations and 34 distinctions – helped him to score a bursary to attend Oxford University in the UK.

We’ve all heard similar stories of people who have refused to let their environment hinder their progress, but what drives these people, what makes them push themselves beyond the limit?

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We asked motivational speaker, author and life coach Simon T Bailey about how one can reach their goals despite challenges that could potentially hold them back.

Like many other young people whose families could not afford tuition fees, Bailey had to drop out of college at the age of 17 as his parents could not afford the fees. Not only did they not have the money for tuition, they also didn’t have the funds to bring him home.