“Dream big! Aim high! Go for the highest peak! Beat the world’s record!”
These are my favorite statements for my two daughters until my eldest asked me why. She wanted to know why can she not dream for something real, go for something achievable, and beat nothing but herself.
And so I tried my best to make her understand that in life, as a whole, dreaming is one way of discovering ourselves and our limitless capabilities. We can always stay safe and dream of climbing only half of the highest peak. But then, on our way, we may miss some steps, we can get lost in the wilderness, or we can decide to go back and give up. Our aim of reaching halfway, may let us end up conquering only a quarter of the mountain.
I continued to explain to my daughter that it is the same when she wanted to stay safe in school and aim only for passing grades. She may be complacent and will not at all feel challenged. People by nature share the same hierarchy of needs with self-fulfillment being the highest on Maslow’s Pyramid.
Still seeing a big question mark on her sparkling eyes, I wonder how can I explain these further – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Percentage of Failure. And so I said, “Do you know that you can always aim for 100% in every scheduled exams and quizzes? Do you know that you can dream of finishing school and graduate with honors? Do you know that you can study, review, and pour your heart in learning, don’t you?”
She was nodding and so I asked her further. “But there were days when you failed in your surprise tests and quizzes, right? Were there also days when you were having a hard time with your project that you felt afraid you may not make it to the next level?”
“You know, you can always dream of 100% grade on your report cards, but we only see those when you were in kindergarten. No one gets a perfect score from elementary to college, unless you are some kind of a genius.” I said.
And then I asked her with my business mode face, “Do you ever feel happy when you get what you wish for?" After awhile I asked further, "Don’t you feel like doing something more to achieve more?" And lastly I asked her, "Do you ever feel like celebrating when you know you only got a passing grade because that is what you aimed for.”
“I think I get your point, Dad.” she said. “We can always dream of 100% and still feel good receiving 98% or 90% for we know we did our best. But, if we only dream of getting a passing grade, like 75%, we may even get 76% or even 78% but still feel mediocre.”
“Absolutely!” I shouted with excitement.
I was really happy and proud at how my daughter in high school immediately understood the principle. As a Leader, I always rally my team to exceed expectations. I set higher goals for my team. I try to challenge them to beat the company’s record. So far, it works for me, while I keep in mind to allow some percentage for failure.
I always wanted them to reach the highest peak, should they feel tired or get lost, I am pretty sure they are already halfway. And no one would want to give up when they are almost done and can actually see and taste the finish line.
In leading a team, the percentage of failure is a reality. The more we experience it, the more we keep ourselves focused on our goal to reach the highest peak.
By the way, my eldest, just graduated as Cum Laude. We never pressured her to graduate with honors. We just always encouraged her to dream big and she did!
Fernando R. Pacia,
Mechanical Engineer. MBA. Servant Leader.
Son. Brother. Husband. Father.
His dedication to his family is exemplary. The love and support he shares with his wife and two daughters are the very source of his strength and inspiration. He also knows that leadership is best learned first at home.