Less crowded

Few people aim to be No. 1 at anything. (Photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

“Go for excellence. It belongs to a space less crowded.”

That’s the advice that Manuel V. Pangilinan, one of the country’s most influential and successful businessmen, gave to the graduating students of San Beda College yesterday.

Most people don’t know that. They haven’t been there. Who would have thought that there’s plenty of room in a place called excellence or success?

MVP said, “I learned how to set high goals, and high ambitions. Even today, I tell myself and my associates, if our goals are not high enough, why bother?”

This is the memorable part of the speech for me:

“Of course, ambition is one thing, and execution another. I learned not just to dream, but to work towards that dream–inch by inch, stone by stone, step by step. Setting high goals means taking big risks and, inevitably in some cases, making mistakes.

“This is another lesson I’d like to share with you: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you’re still young and can afford it, and because you’re likely to learn more from them than you will from your successes.

“Today people see First Pacific as a hugely successful business. But they also forget that we made mistakes along the way. The difference is that I wasted little time on feeling bad and sorry for myself after a failure. The best antidote to failure is action–because the world out there is nothing if not a world of endless action, of choices made daily, of decisions taken constantly.”

I feel like running a full marathon now. In a nutshell, the key takeaways for me are:

1. Go for excellence. Not many are trying.

2. Set high goals not mediocre ones.

3. Work on your goals one step at a time.

4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You can always bounce back.

5. Action is the best antidote for failure, which is always a temporary condition.

All these seem to be common sense, and they echo the wisdom of other successful people in the past. What if many people aimed for excellence? The world would probably be a very different place.

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