I hold a number of qualifications. Most of them, I obtained to add value to the work I performed (and my paycheck, of course). They gave me credentials as a specialist and helped me stay ahead of my competition. They allowed me to remain on top of my game.
But the qualification I, as well as many whom I have worked with, find most valuable actually has no direct relation with any of the jobs I have had. Most of the qualifications I hold, very few people recognize them (when I mention them, I am often mistaken to belong to an intelligence agency or have only completed up to secondary education), but this one gets me so much respect from a wide range of people… possibly more than I deserve. It is the highest qualification you can get in my country to perform secretarial work.
I had no plans of obtaining it. But a few years back, I was hospitalized for a period of time to treat a medical condition. I was heartbroken to have had to leave my job, feeling like I have lost the battle to climb up the professional ladder. I sat on the bed feeling sorry for myself… but within days, I got bored out of my mind!
I had plenty of time on my hand with nothing to do, so I figured I would use it to do something challenging. And that is when I decided to obtain this qualification. By obtaining it, you prove you have the aptitude to be an executive secretary, meaning you can not only provide the best administrative services but also give assistance in all aspects of business by having a vast amount of knowledge to handle anything that is thrown your way. I could not have picked a more challenging qualification than this!
I studied really hard and was able to pass the written exam. But I failed very miserably on my first of three attempts at the oral exam. The interviewers pointed out so many flaws, my heart was crushed and I missed the second attempt. I thought of not showing up for the third, thinking that I have accomplished enough by gaining knowledge I found to be quite useful in my line of work. I was not going to take on a secretary position anyway, so it was not necessary for me to risk getting knocked down again.
But, it bothered me that I would be leaving the many flaws that were pointed out unattended. I did not need the qualification, but I did not want to accept the loss resulting from things I could have fixed. So, I prepared really hard and took the oral exam one last time. I was glad I did, because although I did not do great, the interviewers were impressed by how well I remembered the flaws they previously pointed out and how much I effort I put in to correct them. And they let me pass this time!
When I finally returned to work, now with this new qualification, people saw me in a completely different light. I was not just a specialist in a very specific field, I was a specialist with skills and knowledge comparable to those of an executive secretary. People now paid more attention to my words and took my advice more seriously. I had come back bigger and better, winning over the hearts of many more than I ever did before.
So, maybe I lost a few battles along the way… my health, my job, and a bit of my heart and pride.
But maybe it is because I lost these battles that I was able to not turn away from the one battle I had to win – the one against myself.
And maybe that paved the way to winning the war to get myself more accepted and valued.
Maybe it is not important to win every battle. Just the ones that will bring about a win in the war for a bigger cause. Choose your battles carefully, then even losses can become advantageous to you.
Oh, and never pick a fight with secretaries… believe me, they have so much up their sleeves! But get them on your side, and they will be the best allies you can have.
A last note: You may have lost your battle against Parkinson’s, but you have guided so many to win the war for freedom – the Greatest, forever, M.A.