THE STORY OF QAISER ABBAS
LIVING THE DREAM
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it”
‘If your dreams are high, and your beginnings are low, congratulations! Life is going to offer you something really, really BIG!’ The speaker’s passion had instantly injected a current of high-octane energy and anticipation in his audience, consisting of over 1500 top executives from 100 countries at IFTDO’s 43rd international conference at expo center, Dubai.
‘No worries if you aim for gold and miss it; the real worry would be when you aim for the bronze and get it.’ The audience was completely enthralled by the dynamic message of the charismatic speaker.
‘Let me share a story with you. The story of a young child whose dreams were sky-high but his beginnings were very low.’ The speaker’s inspiring message held a firm promise to touch the hearts and souls of his audience.
He projected on to the screen the image of a little boy. His shining eyes were filled with a million dreams, carrying some magnetic power. His appearance, dress and looks, however, contradicted the aspirations his eyes revealed.
‘Yes, my friends! This child’s dreams were as high as the K2, but his origins were more wretched than you could possibly imagine. He was born into a family that survived well below the poverty line. A family that was afflicted with hunger, deprivation, ill-health, inadequacy and never-ending impossibility. He was the youngest among the eight children of hardworking, committed visionary parents. His father, despite having no formal education, was a symbol of dedication, self-reliance, and perseverance. But to the world he was only a laborer.
‘At the very young age of seven, he was deprived forever of his mother’s tender love, care and protection. The boy wept bitterly as he sat beside the lifeless body of his mother. Many years later he was told that the mother’s disease was curable. She died because the family had no money to afford treatment. But the dreams his dead mother had nurtured in him remained unshaken. There was a fire and passion burning in him to raise the living standards of his family.’
The global leaders from the world’s top companies present in the hall were captivated in the spell of the gripping story.
‘He was never able to wear the clothes his heart desired nor ever able to play with the toys he craved to have. Some rich relatives would hand over their used clothes to the poor family and the sensitive young boy would feel self-conscious and embarrassed about facing the same relatives or the world at large wearing cast-off garments that were not even the right fit for him.
‘In spite of being promised rewards like a bike or some other coveted item for attaining the first position in his class, his family could never honor their commitments. The prime goal for the whole family every day was how to scrape together enough to put a meal on the table. Paying the rent became almost an obsession for fear of losing the roof over their heads. The emotional turmoil prevailing in the family turned his elder brother into a drug addict. That was really the beginning of a series of unfortunate setbacks. But his dreams were still lofty, his determination to lift his family out of their miserable conditions grew stronger with every passing day.
As a young boy, he suffered from an acute lack of self-confidence, self-esteem and trust. He was shy, timid and withdrawn. Because of his deep-seated feelings of mistrust and shame at the deprived conditions fate had thrust upon his family, he had grown ever more introverted, his only friends the sufferings of his youth. His nervous appearance, weak frame, and indifferent health were matters of deep concern to him. But still his dreams remained towering and unwavering.’
‘He got his first job after matriculation as a salesman with a local distributor of Pakistan Tobacco Company. He continued trying to supplement his income with the help of minor jobs in textile mills and other factories under tough working conditions. But his resolve to accomplish big goals landed him in a college. Persistently following the path of his dreams, he never let discouragement or depression overcome him. To everyone’s surprise, he succeeded in winning two gold medals both in the Intermediate as well as in his Bachelor’s.’ And at this, the pin-drop silence at Dubai expo center was broken by the ringing echoes of applause from the audience, all of whom were thoroughly spellbound by the story.
‘His obsession of achieving something significant for his family had made him restless. He found it intolerable to wait for admission to university for a whole long year. He left his village and headed for Lahore, where he embarked on a struggling life that would challenge every ounce of grit in him. Not willing to waste even a single day, he began to learn computer hardware at Hafeez Centre during the mornings, and in the evenings worked at the Jang newspaper canteen. His life was characterized by hunger, homelessness, and other similar problems. ‘But with God’s grace he won admission to the M. Sc. at Punjab University. Meanwhile, he worked full-time as a translator at a magazine. He wanted to start his professional life as soon as he could, but he was destined for yet further adversity. During his very first year at university, his father – his best friend, his companion, his source of inspiration and, on top of everything else, his reason to accomplish something big in life – departed this world, leaving him to face life’s challenges all alone. He was totally devastated and depressed by his father’s death. Without the will to go on, for a while he seriously considered ending his life. His heart filled with grief, he did not see any hope, any purpose, any reason to live and continue his struggle for success. However, his family and friends rallied around and provided him much-needed support. Finally he decided to reconnect with his lofty dreams and return to the pursuit of his goals.
‘As he resumed his struggle for success, every kind of emotional, financial, social, mental and physical, psychological challenge that life could possibly throw at him blocked his path. It seemed as if life was really determined to test his courage, nerve and determination to the limit.
‘During his last year at university, he was fortunate to find a mentor who took him in hand, challenged his beliefs and, guided him to set clear goals. He inspired him to study the books that stirred, inspired and motivated him, and stimulated his life and intellect in an extraordinary way.
‘When he completed his M. Sc., his family was impatiently waiting to reap the rewards of his success. But they had no idea that he was still being pursued by other demons, the victim of other defeats. He was unemployed and thus had no money to fulfil the promises he had made to his family. He used to get up every morning, see the job ads in newspapers, apply for the jobs, appear in interviews only to get rejected. He failed in over 250 job interviews; a handful of them for the position of a waiter in five start hotels. No company was willing to give him a chance even without a salary. Indeed he had nothing to show in terms of both personality and skills to justify his ambition.
A little later he joined the visiting faculty of M.A.O. College Lahore and started teaching M. Sc. classes. However, his monthly salary was less than US$18. His dream appeared destined to remain unfulfilled.
‘He continued his struggle to create a meaningful life for himself, but nothing seemed to go in his favor. He knocked on dozens of doors, from ordinary street academies to the Civil Services Academy, but nobody was willing to offer him anything. Punjab University and the Pakistan Air Force rejected him twice. He also got turned down by the Public Service Commission, leaving him depressed and disillusioned, but he was still unwilling to let go of his glorious dreams. But he was not ready to give up.
He decided to once again appear for the Public Service Commission exam. And this time, not only did he pass but he also conquered the first position in the Public Service Commission.
Though his heart pulled him to pursue his real passions; his family needed financial security. So he was forced to join the government service. He became a lecturer at a Government Degree College Baseerpur in District Okara, but his dreams kept him restless.
‘One lesson he had learned well from his gurus was that you cannot venture into uncharted waters unless you say goodbye to the shoreline.
‘Finally, he mustered up the courage to bid goodbye to a college lectureship that was earning him $ 60 a month for his family. Annoying almost everyone, he decided to return to Lahore and refocused on his most desired dream to build a company, becoming an entrepreneur and make a difference in the world by helping individuals and organizations achieve greatness. His vision to set up a company was almost thrashed by hundreds of obstacles. No money, no references, no resources, no social or professional network, no experience, no transport, no clients, no food, no equipment, no computer, no printer, no laptop, no cell phone, and even no place to live. And worst of all no place to live. The toughest decision at the end of every day was where to spend the night? But his courage remained undaunted and his dreams unwavering.
‘He took his cutting edge ideas on transforming businesses to dozens of companies and organizations, but came away disappointed. From hospitals to one-room clinics, he left no stone unturned, but his efforts were to no avail. The toughest dilemma he had to struggle with was that none of his family members believed in him. The people dearest to him started making negative comments about his character. Their predictions about his future were far from flattering.
‘He had no permanent place to live in Lahore. He did have some relatives, but he did not feel comfortable with the idea of staying with them. Friends were not ready to tolerate him for long, except for a few really good ones, most of whom were going through the same rough time. The constant shifting of homes left him frustrated and also cost him dozens of his favorite books and the clothes he had bought with the sweat of his brow. His siblings were beginning to insist that he return to his native town as he was not only unemployed but, according to them, ‘hopeless’.
‘He tried his luck with countless people and launched numerous initiatives, but it began to seem as if circumstances were conspiring against him. To those around him he gave the impression of being very motivated and with a burning desire to do something bigger, but deep down in his heart he was almost ready to throw in the towel. But every time he came close to the end, something inside him kept him going.’
‘Finally, he found an office where he could invite his clients. It was not less than McDonald’s LDA branch. (Actually, he just pretended to himself that this was his office though he had no address printed on his business card.) He started visiting McDonald’s daily, mostly on foot as he could not afford even public transport. His potential clients would come to meet him at McDonald’s. During those two-and-a-half financially strapped years, he NEVER ate a McDonald’s burger – simply because he couldn’t afford one. He would offer his clients only a cup of tea or a cone ice cream and if a client asked why he was not having one himself, he would say airily, ‘Oh, I just had some.’
‘Ignoring his acute hunger pangs, he would continue reading, writing, researching and preparing his proposals for clients. He had redirected his hunger towards a bigger purpose. If his hunger became unbearable, he would have a bite to eat at some small, cheap roadside food stall and then return to McDonald’s to continue his work. In one of the noisiest, most crowded and distracting venues, McDonald’s, not only did he meet his clients, prepare for his assignments, carry out research projects, set the direction of his life, orchestrated plans, dreamt big dreams to set up a great company; but he also managed to write his masterpiece Tick Tick Dollar™.’ The hall was filled with an electric silence.
‘Now, have you figured out how I know this boy so well?’ the speaker asked in a quivering, almost tearful tone of voice, ‘Because he is no one else but me – Qaiser Abbas!’
Every person in the hall completely stunned, emotionally charged, stood up and applauded him with eyes wet and unshed tears. The audience left their seats and gathered around him on the stage. Everyone had tears in their eyes. The unstoppable applause was deafening. The high profile corporate executives from over 100 countries were deeply touched, inspired, and shaken up. They were showering their love on him by hugging even kissing him.
My friend Qaiser Abbas was so touched by this first standing ovation given to him by the 1500 enthusiastic global leaders in the audience that his emotions overcame him. He started crying like the child he once was. He found it difficult to believe that his dreams were actually coming true.
He wanted everyone to know from his own experience that there is nothing in this world that can keep people from fulfilling their most precious, seemingly impossible dreams. Turning back to the audience, he said in a voice ringing with emotion, ‘starting from nothing, if I can stand here today; if you commit 100% to your dreams, where can you reach?’
I can assure you that Qaiser Abbas is certainly living the life of his dreams today. Recently, during his motivational speech in Muscat, addressing over 100 CEOs organized by WJ Towell Group, Qaiser received multiple standing ovations. When he finished, people could not think of any better way to demonstrate their appreciation for his touching their hearts and minds than giving him one additional, unique tribute by standing on their chairs and applauding.
Qaiser’s purpose in life is to instill self-belief, hope and the certainty of an abundant success for everyone, especially the youth of Pakistan.
From beginnings of despair and hopelessness, with no resources, money, or capital at all, Qaiser won through to found one of the most innovative Management Development & Consulting companies, Possibilities, now operating in 30 countries. He chose for himself the title of Chief Inspiring Officer rather than the more traditional Chief Executive Officer.
His ceaseless pursuit of excellence and sharing of his inspiration place him as one of the top global motivational speakers. His clients include global giants like GE, Nestle, Pepsi, Total, Toyota, Philips, and World Bank to name but a few.
Qaiser’s purpose in life is to: Inspire, educate and empower people to passionately live a purposeful life, filled with achievement and fulfillment.
To him, purpose is not about getting, it is about giving. Why? Because when you focus on giving, God liberates you from the pursuit of getting.
Qaiser is also the Founder of Possibilities Foundation; aiming to establish 500,000 non-formal Possibilities Schools to educate seven million underprivileged children of Pakistan. Once hi dream was to be able to sponsor one child to the kind of school where he couldn’t afford to go as a child. Today, he supports hundreds of deprived kids to study in a school of their own choice. All through his personal income. Qaiser’s 100% income from his books and a significant portion of his speaking fee is dedicated to support his back-to-society initiatives.
Join Qaiser Abbas in his pursuit of possibilitizing dreams for everyone to learn, share and grow; especially for the ones who are less privileged, deprived and forgotten.