The 5 Lessons of Life: Ashraf Chaudhry’s Message on His 50th Birthday

Today, I am 50.

I was born on 10th September 1969 in a far-flung village of District Toba Tek Singh, a small town in Pakistan.

Both of my parents had migrated from India as kids in 1947 at the time of partition. Both had no formal education.

My childhood memories are related to worst kind of poverty, miseries, helplessness, disease and hunger.

My early education was from roofless and wall-less schools but things took a dramatic turn when I gatecrashed into the legendary business school, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi to pursue my MBA.

Going to Karachi, a cosmopolitan city of Pakistan, and joining the ivy league of my country was no less than a watershed event of my life. It boosted my confidence, self-image and opened a flood gate of opportunities for future. I was below average student at IBA and despite that I had been in the fast lane of corporate success. Those who don’t know much about me can watch a small video on my life made by a TV channel.

For 15 years, I worked for multinationals as well as local blue-chip companies in oil marketing, FMCG, hospitality and telecom industries in sales and marketing fields. Honestly, I made numerous career mistakes, picked up non-productive fights with seniors, paid heavy price, sometimes learnt lessons and sometimes did not and repeated the behavioral patterns.

I am Pakistan’s highly sought-after sales trainer and unbelievably blessed person. Pakistan’s top companies engage me round the year to build capacity of their teams and stakeholders. Our online trainings on freelancing and Guerrilla CV concept has helped thousands of people in the last few years.

When I look back at my past, corporate journey as well as my childhood, I see a kaleidoscope of events with full of lessons. Today, I want to share life lessons of my five decades journey, personal as well as professional and these lessons can be guide posts for people who want to excel not only in careers as well as in all spheres of life. I am summing up my entire life’s learning into 5 lessons.

  1. There is no such thing as good luck and bad luck, fortune or misfortune. Our creator, Allah, is Just and He does not discriminate and do injustice. He puts equal “raw material” in everybody. Those who materialize their hidden potential, they get lucky and those who refuse to identify and materialize their potential become unlucky. Anybody can be lucky who discovers his/her passion and pursues it relentlessly. Life does not reward you for nursing a reservoir of wishes. Life rewards those who hunt their dreams with bull dog ferocity.

My this belief (disowning the destiny concept) always empowered me to take challenges head-on and take ownership of results of life rather than making God responsible of my failures. I am where I am because of the decisions of my life and the choices I made. My decisions and choices are like seeds and they produced results according to laws of nature. I made right choices, I enjoyed the results later on. I made bad decisions, I paid heavy price.  

  1. You get rewarded or compensated in life in direct proportion to your contribution and value-addition to the system you operate in. This belief always helped me to recognize opportunities to become more useful and to create more value for others. There was a time when I used to dwell in self-pity and play victim card. My life became peaceful after espousing this belief that I would get ahead in life only when I help more and more people. To help more and more people, I focus on improving my skills and find out gaps in society where I can deploy my skills to help others.
  2. All of us get influenced, subtly and subliminally, round the clock by external forces. Our friends, parents, neighbors, relatives, TV channels, social media, books and movies influence us every moment. They depress us. They elevate us. I attribute my success to the influencers that I consciously allowed to influence me. I choose my influencers carefully. Years back, I removed TV set from my bed room as it was not helping me in any way. I have thousands of first degree connections at social media but I keep my newsfeed clean of all hate speech, negativity and pessimism. I read great books (here is my recommended list) and I watch great movies. I have literally firewalled myself from negaholics and Cassandras of life. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I spend my time online and offline with merchants of hope, people who give energy and motivation. I stay away from emotional leeches and mental vampires and drama queens.

I am very lucky I developed reading habit in childhood. Reading books and watching great movies always positively influenced me.

  1. You need to take charge of your life. You cannot look towards government, messiahs or systems that will ensure your prosperity. You become prosperous and wealthy and affluent with right choices not by government promises or policies. Pakistan has always been governed by kleptocrats, incompetent and corrupt mafias, but there are thousands, if not millions, stories of rags to riches. I advise all youngsters to start saving and investing in various asset classes the moment they get their first salary. Saving has nothing to do with earning size. Saving is a trait and virtue.

There is no bigger curse than credit cards and consumer loans. They eat away your savings and inner peace. If you can get one lesson from this article, take this lesson. Cut the credit cards into pieces and dispatch to banks with ‘thank you’ note and pay the full amount and get rid of this curse. Never spend money that you don’t own. Build your own rainy-day fund and make it bigger every month. In crises, everybody can abandon you except money in your hand. Save money today. Money will save you tomorrow.

  1. Pakistan is a land of opportunities. You can be multi-millionaire in a few years if you have eagle eyes to spot opportunities and knack to execute plans. I am politically conscious since early 1980s. Pakistan has always been like this. I never saw streams of milk and honey. I have seen governments of Gen. Zia ul Haq, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif, Gen. Parvez Musharaf and now Imran Khan. All are same. But I have seen people selling second hand shoes on footpath and now running successful shoe brand and bus conductors running fleet of buses. Start learning from successful businessmen of this beautiful country. They build their wealth in the same environment where we see corruption, political instability and lopsided policies.

Don’t look towards government. Build your own capacity to become more useful. Identify opportunities. Grab them. Money will chase you.

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Ashraf Chaudhry is Pakistan’s #1 Sales Trainer, author and social media influencer. Join him at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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