When I received the American Health Information Management Association’s Distinguished Member Award last October, I shared with the audience a seminal event that essentially changed my life. The event was so powerful and resonated with so many in the audience that I want to share it in my blog, knowing that it can possibly give you courage to shoot for the impossible. Below is a transcript of that speech:
I am here to tell you that I am testimony that anything is possible…..Anything is possible when you ask the help of others and believe in yourself! Over 40 years ago a seminal event occurred that helped me set the course believing that anything is possible.
In 1964 in early Fall, just about the same time of year as it is now, I was preparing for my Junior year in high school. When my course schedule arrived in the mail (no Internet then), I was surprised to see that I had not been enrolled in Algebra II. At first I was concerned, because a third year of high school math was an essential criterion for being accepted to the college of my choice. However, I quickly dismissed the worry, deciding that this was an oversight or data entry error. I would be able to get this corrected, I decided, in my home room on the first day of classes.
The first day of classes arrived and I approached my home room teacher about the issue. She confirmed that there was no mistake; the head of the math department had decided that I should not be enrolled in Algebra II. I harangued my home room teacher sufficiently enough that she finally caved and suggested I attend the Algebra II first class session and take the matter up with the teacher, who was also math department head.
As I sat through the first class of Algebra II, my hopes were high that I could successfully iron out this problem. After class finished I approached the teacher. I explained the situation and asked if my exclusion in the course had been an oversight. She looked straight at me and said, “No, Merida, this was no oversight. You are too stupid to do Algebra II!” WOW! I still distinctly remember what I thought at that moment: “She’s wrong! She is dead wrong.”
Although my confidence was shaken and while I didn’t get into the university of my choice because I didn’t have necessary math prerequisite, I never lost sight my North Star. I kept a belief in myself that I not only could, but that I would fulfill my purpose.
And today I thank that teacher! I thank that teacher because she gave me a reason to prove myself.
Over the years my belief in myself was like a magnet for opening opportunities & attracting people who wanted to get on my band wagon, help me along my way and be part of my journey….and that extends to today. And to all of those people I am deeply grateful, you are part of my being, and you live with me every single day.
So my friends and colleagues, I would like to leave you with three challenges.
The first challenge is to believe in yourself. Never, ever let anyone else define who you are. You are creative, you are resourceful, you have valuable strengths to offer………never lose sight of your North Star because believing in yourself is the foundation of leadership.
The second Challenge is to never underestimate the willingness of others to help you out. Life is a team activity. When you ask someone to help you, you give them a gift……you acknowledge their importance and help reconfirm a belief in them. So I challenge you to ask others to help you fulfill your potential because asking for help is a hallmark of leadership.
And the final and third challenge is to never let a day go by without asking the question “How can I help you?” Never let an opportunity go by to showcase your expertise and leadership by asking “How can I help YOU,” because this enriches your life and is a hallmark authentic leadership.
So go forward. Be the leader you are meant to be in making healthcare a better place by advancing quality health information because....anything is possible when you believe in yourself and ask for and give help to others.