I heard this story recently of a Janitor at Columbia University who emigrated from Yugoslavia to the US and worked everyday cleaning the toilets at this Ivy League University, and is now due to graduate with Honours at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Gac Filipaj, 52, first moved to the United States in 1992 when his home country was in the midst of a massive civil war. Upon his move state-side, he started learning English while working full time at Columbia University.
After seven years of mastering English, Mr Filipaj began to take advantage of the University’s policy that allows all employees to enroll in college courses for free, provided that they are able to hold their own academically.
Widely considered to be the fourth best university in the country-it is no small feat that Mr Filipaj was able to compete with much younger classmates. Columbia’s policy allows employees to take a certain number of courses per semester. By comparison, tuition costs $43,088 annually for full-time students.
It took him 7 years to learn to speak English, and a further 12 years of taking one or two classes per semester to obtain his undergraduate degree, all the while working nights cleaning toilets and picking up trash left behind by his fellow students.
Hearing stories like this is a reminder of what it takes to get what you want….even when the odds are stacked against you…GRIT, and sheer determination! Studies tells us that the number one factor determining academic success is the ability to stick with things even in the face of adversity (Duckworth et al., 2007), and Mr Filipaj is a great example of this. Research also tell us that if you really want something, sometimes you just have to keep doing the thing you know will lead you in the right direction. This is where life coaching can dramatically increase your chances of reaching your goals, however audacious they might appear to be. Life coaching keeps you on track and accountable for taking the steps necessary to keep you moving in the right direction.
Mr Filipaj is now pursuing his Masters degree and hopes to get his PhD one day…I bet he will. Good luck Mr Filipaj…
Bright Ideas Psychology provides life coaching that is based on current research of what is most effective with goal setting and can help you stay on track. As well as life coaching, Bright Ideas integrates this with positive psychology which can help clarify your goals and values, and what is really important to you. For more information, please visit http://brightideaspsych.com/
Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D. & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals.