By Younas Chaudhary
My father’s brand-new tractor (to cultivate agricultural land) rolled into our remote village in Pakistan and the villagers rejoiced. I was around seven years old; this was the 1960s, and Pakistan was in the throes of an agricultural revolution, the Green Revolution.
The villagers were awestruck as the International Tractor ploughed its way across dirt roads, making a grand entry into their lives for the first time. They treated the tractor like a bride, decorating it and hanging rose garlands around it. Some merely sought to touch it out of curiosity.
In a village with no cars, little children huddled curiously, staring from afar at this big, open top, one-seat machine.
In this parched village, this single tractor—one of just 3,000 in the entire country at that time—was about to revolutionize the way people worked and lived. The tractor replaced inefficient bullock carts, ploughing the same acreage in two hours rather than two days.
Another big revolution soon followed the tractor—the introduction of fertilizers. Farmers started receiving white bags of fertilizers, mostly subsidized, to substantially increase crop production. In our village, where farmers seldom sharpened their tools and practiced agriculture unchanged for generations, a tractor and fertilizers ushered in unprecedented changes.
As a young boy, I observed first-hand how such changes improved efficiency, output, and standards of living. I also observed how people reacted to such changes, in positive and negative ways. The poor villagers greeted change with fear, confusion, anger, and uncertainty. Even my father, the only proud owner of the tractor, reacted with fear when fertilizers were introduced.
As a seven-year-old boy, I saw many villagers who rejected these innovations without any thought. They despised the tractor and sided with farmers who refused to have the tractor in their fields. Some saw it as a threat, and others did not want to pay extra for this new technology when they were already feeding their home-grown bullocks.
Fast forward another fifteen years, to the early 1970s. I was getting ready to move to Canada. Even before I got the visa, I was ready to face the inevitable headwinds that would come against me and was mentally preparing for a big change.
Unlike the villagers who were afraid of the changes the tractor would bring, I was eager to get my feet wet and explore the possibilities the West offered. I desperately wanted to escape poverty and was scheming to achieve an Olympic win by moving to Canada and experiencing financial success.
Thus in 1973 I moved from a dusty village with dirt roads and temperatures of 116°F to the city of Edmonton, Canada that was in the midst of one of its harshest winters in history (-28°F) and a bus strike to boot.
Despite the extreme changes I faced, I was determined to find a job within days, do whatever it took to survive, and forcibly adapt to conditions in Canada. I did not want to give up because giving up was not an option for me. I wanted to pursue my passion for success, find my way forward through trial and error, and explore with a positive attitude how I could change my life for the better. With hard work, consistency, and good luck, things worked out well.
Fast forward to the current time, in this Covid-19 pandemic, our adaptability to change is what will help us navigate unchartered waters. We have to take the plunge into new areas, as our comfort zones vanished in March 2020. As of this writing, one in six small businesses has already closed forever, the aviation and hospitality sectors have been seriously damaged, energy sector demands are low, and our way of life has been dramatically altered. Concepts like studying and working from home that ordinarily would have taken five years to mature have now come about in just six months.
In today’s world, some people believe, like the villagers in Pakistan, that they can survive without any changes. That is fiction. Instead, they need to be more realistic and the productive course is to embrace change and intentionally pursue new ventures. Seek new avenues with a passionate commitment, work hard and with a positive attitude. I assure you that such an approach will work—if you believe in it, trust in it and work at it, you will succeed.
Find out more about me in my best-selling book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and the reader is advised to consult other advisors as well as his own judgment in making business decisions.