Hannah Ajala is a broadcast journalist at the BBC World Service, meaning learning about other people’s stories plays a big role in her life. However the story of how Hannah became a journalist involves a little trick she came across, called positive delusion, which she now dedicates time to sharing with others so that their goals can become reality too.  

Hannah’s broadcasting story began with her English teacher when she was 15 years old. Positively reinforcing Hannah with encouraging words about her natural skill in expressing ideas and advising her to look into journalism, Hannah’s teacher ignited the spark that lead journalism to eventually become a lifestyle for her.

“The journey came with a lot of perseverance and persistence in knowing that although it was not going to be easy, it’s where I was meant to be”, she admits.

Initially faced with lots of rejection, Hannah understood that she needed to take her journey step by step. She needed to build herself up in order to get a real sense of what type of journalism she wanted to focus on, then she could execute. Part of building herself up was realising the importance of experience, so she started practicing her journalism by developing her skills and knowledge. She also documented her life on social media by creating amateur documentaries and following people who were doing the journalism she craved. Pursuing a goal whilst encountering setbacks like being rejected in a highly competitive industry, and taking the time to build skills and knowledge makes the journey appear the most challenging compared to life after reaching the goal. Yet Hannah mentions that even today, after achieving her goal of becoming a journalist, she still faces challenges.

“Is the work I want to produce relevant? Will people like, read, or watch it?” Hannah’s answer is to “throw fear out of the window and just do it!”

Positive delusion is an attitude that Hannah adopted as soon as she decided she wanted a job in the broadcasting industry. It aided her mindset in becoming less negative about every failure and more motivated in focusing on what needs to be done in order to reach her goal. Inspiration for using the word ‘delusion’ came to Hannah when she heard it being used by June Sarpong, a British-Ghanaian TV presenter in her success talk. If June Sarpong could openly speak about struggles in succeeding using the unique formula of positive delusion, so could she, and anyone!

‘I took several leaps of faith not knowing what would lead to the next, but knew that whatever I work hard towards and sewed seeds in would always bear fruit’.

And what if people act negatively towards your work or positively delusional attitude? Hannah takes it with a pinch of salt. There are going to be people like this everywhere and just because someone shows a dislike toward your life choices, it does not mean that you are the problem. Part of using positive delusion is muffling out negative noise from other people without ignoring criticism that may actually benefit your work.

Surely being positive all the time is tiring and stressful though? Often you can’t help but feel a little sad one day or experience doubt toward something you used to be sure of. For Hannah, taking time out to do things for herself and others, or exploring different countries helps her to keep positively pushing on. She runs a few start-ups, which she feels passionately about, including a fellowship group to encourage togetherness amongst female Christians as well as a mentoring scheme and social enterprise called Pursue Your Passion. The fellowship group is a place for Hannah and Christian women to socialise, express and learn. To her, a church is less about the building, and more about people coming together. Pursue Your Passion involves Hannah and her partner running workshops for young people to gain an insight into different industries from people who have strong experience in fields such as finance, fashion, NHS, law, media and any other industry. As for exploring different countries, Hannah enjoys the slowness of time that enables her to refuel and prepare for going back to the hustle and bustle of London.

When asked if positive delusion could be used on a wider scale, such as through societal and protest movements Hannah replied, ‘It all starts with the individual. Yes, I think it’s possible, but given the current climate of the world and recent/current events, people not only need a change of mind-set, but also a change of the heart’.

Words by Bethany McAtee. This article was first posted on thestagsurrey.co.uk on April 22, 2018.