"IT'S all about having a positive mental attitude and sticking to repetition," said Australia-based artist Rusiate Lali.
The 36-year-old from Rewa, who lived in Australia for the past 14 years, was once a shoeshine boy who roamed the streets of Suva.
In what he terms a simple twist of fate, Lali went from the streets of Suva to become an established artist in top galleries in and around Australia and Singapore.
"I refer to it as fate because I just so happened to be sitting outside Sir James Ah Koy's office when this guy came out of it, crushed up this piece of paper he was holding, and threw it into the bin in front of me," he said.
"Because it was such a hot day, I took it out and tried to make a hat for myself and that's when I got to reading about this PMA — Positive Mental Attitude — so that's how I met James and everything changed."
Sir James told The Fiji Times it was inspiring to discover that Lali had adopted a positive mental attitude even though he had not been a part of his (Sir James') school.
"It is quite encouraging because Rusiate just had a glimpse and didn't get the whole course."
The course is part of the school Sir James established in 1996 after being appointed Minister for Youth, Sports and Employment Opportunities.
Lali, who now lives off the money he makes from his paintings, says the hardest but most important aspect of being an artist like himself is repetition.
"There are days when I wake up and think to myself 'I'm not going to paint today', and there are other days when I wake up and start painting straight away, but because it's like that, it's very important to be able to discipline yourself to just keep painting — repetition. Always," he said.
Lali admitted that indeed it was never as easy as it seems
"The biggest problem with me and my whole situation is that I have an attitude problem. I like being my own boss and I have a hard time with my attitude, but I'm trying and this is why having a PMA has really helped me to be both successful as well as control my attitude issue," he said.