The second attribute we should burn is execution. We need to be able to drive in the minds of the people that we work with that we are the “go-to” guy. That if they want to make something happen, you are the guy to go to, because you are the person who can execute. Execution is one of the attribute that will help you rise to the top.
I’d like to quote one of the greatest minds and teachers of all time who said to his pupil: “Luke, there is no try. There is either do or not do.” You know who that is? That is Yoda teaching Luke Skywalker of Star Wars one of the most important lessons in life: execution, or making it happen.
An icon of execution, of course, is Michael Jordan. He is arguably one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived, but not without getting the ball, taking that shot, and executing the play. Can you imagine what would have happened to Michael if all he ever did was to plan on shooting the ball but never did? One of the things you have to remember about exec
ution though is that it doesn’t mean you have to be successful every single time. Part of execution is also failing yet rising up again.
Michael Jordan says this, “I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career and lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life, and that’s precisely why I succeed.”
When you go out to the real world, you will realize that there are many people out there who have great ideas and great plans. And that is good. But like I always tell my team in PLDT, what separates the good from the great is execution. We can spend endless hours and tons of money strategizing, planning, team building, and analyzing to come out with a great plan. But until we execute that plan, that’s all it will every be, a plan.
When something goes wrong in a company, the question the leader or the CEO almost always asks is not, “Who has the best grades?” “Who has a diploma?” “Who has all the awards?” “Who is the summa cum laude?” “Who graduated from an Ivy league school?” That’s not what he asks. The CEO just asks one question: “Who can get the job done?” That, dear graduates is the importance of execution.
Let’s learn a lesson from Mickey Mouse. Well, maybe not from Mickey, but from his originator, Walt Disney. Walt had four mantras: dreaming, believing, daring, and then doing. Of the four, “doing” is what turns everything into a reality. Walt said, “Dreaming, believing and daring without doing is just like Dumbo, the elephant, without ears. It just won’t fly. ABRAKADABRA will never work.” Only execution does.DESCENDING TO THE TOP
In my UP speech, I talked to them about “what’s better than,” and I juxtaposed what’s better than this versus what’s better than that. Now, all of us want to ascend to the top. No doubt about it. And we should. We should plan on ascending all the way to the top. But I will pose the same question I did three years ago: “What’s better than ascending to the top?” The answer is DESCENDING to the top.
That may actually baffle a lot of your minds. “What is he talking about?” “How can descending to the top be better than ascending to the top?” It is a biblical principle. The Bible tells us that he who wishes to be the greatest must be the servant of all. That is the concept of descending to the top. What I want to share with you, is that as you rise to the top, the more you have to be a servant. The keyword is humility. The more you start rising to the top, the more humility needs to become an important place in who you are and in your life.
I want to share with you what happened to Steve Jobs the founder of Apple computers and now the Ipod. We all know what a great visionary Steve Jobs is. But if we chronicle his career, Steve Jobs, as he was ascending to the top, as he was rising towards greatness, forgot all about humility. While he was hitting his peak, all he thought about was how great he was, how fantastic he was, how the world revolved around him, and how his company should worship him. That is ascending to the top. The higher you go, the bigger your head.
What happened to Steve Jobs as he hit the peak? He was driven out of his company both in failure and in disgrace. Then after having failed in many other endeavors , he started again and went on to make an indelible mark in the entertainment industry, and with the extraordinary success of the iPod, regained his reputation as the “greatest innovator of the digital age”. And so Steve Jobs, after having ascended to the top and then unceremoniously booted out, now gets the chance to lead Apple again. But something was different about the man this time. People started to feel Steve had changed. And so in a big conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, there he was, listening to the chants of his people, demanding him to come back and run Apple again. Let me share with you how the new Steve answered the call. No longer ascending to the top, but understanding what descending to the top is all about. And I will quote from the book, “Icon: The greatest second act in business”.For the first time in his public life, there on stage, Steve appeared genuinely touched when the people were starting to ask him to come back and take the CEO position. He wasn’t brash or cocky anymore. Maybe his four kids and the complete failure of a company and the near failure of another taught him something. There on stage, he fought back the tears as he mumbled something to make it clear that yes, even Steve Jobs can change.
He had made the transition into a world where feelings and passion could partner with business and technology. Steve Jobs said, “You guys are making me feel funny right now. I get to come to work with the most talented people on the planet at Apple and Pixar. The best job in the world! But these jobs are team sports. I cannot do it alone; I can only do it with a team.”
A team sport. Fifteen years ago, it would have been a lie. It would have been all about him and how great he was. But now, everything was different. He now understood that it was really the many others who helped him succeed. He did realize it wasn’t all about him. That Apple is a team sport.
That is descending to the top - the higher you fly, the lower the ego.
If you’re able to get a copy of Time Magazine’s issue where they declared who their Man of the Year was, the Man of the Year of Time for 2005 was Bill Gates. But not because of what Bill Gates has done for Microsoft. Not because he
revolutionized the computer industry. But because of what Bill Gates has started to do for humanity. If you read that article, Bill realizes that this is probably the generation where if health care were given enough resources, he can actually make a big difference in millions of people’s lives. And that has become the man’s passion and advocacy donating billions to uplift the health of poverty stricken nations. This is what truly defines him; no longer his technological achievements. It is now about serving and helping other people. In other words, descending to the top.A HEART FOR OUR COUNTRY
Finally, as you rise to the top you should never lose your heart for our country.
I always tell my team in PLDT, that yes, we have a business to run, but let us never forget we also have a country to serve. And that is the same thing I will tell you as you guys rise to the top. You will have businesses to run, you will have your own careers to take care of, and you will have your own dreams to pursue, but never forget you have a country to serve.
You may ask, “How? How do I serve the country?” One way is actually quite simple. I’ll give it to you in one word. If you are great, if you are smart, if you are the best, if you have a Silliman education, then, please STAY.
Just stay in the country. You would have actually done a great service to our country just by staying.
But if you can’t stay, or you don’t want to stay, that’s fine. If you think you want to make it out there in the world, that’s a-ok with me. But I want to ask two things of you.
First, go out there and show the whole world how great the Filipino is. In whatever field you’re in, prove to the world how special we Filipinos truly are.
Second, don’t just plan to COME
back. Plan to GIVE
back to the country. If you do that, if every Filipino who goes out there into the world -- and there are millions of us already -- proves to everybody how great the Filipino is, and not only plans to come back, but actually plans to give back to this country, in less than one generation, we will be an even greater nation.
I will end with what I told the UP students in 2003. You must be asking yourselves, “How do I reach my dreams?” or “How far can I go?” I told them this: In the last 42 years of my life, I have realized one thing, “There is no destination beyond the reach of those who walk with God.”
So when you go out there in the world, take God’s hand and walk with him. Because when you do, whatever destination it is you are hoping to reach, if God walks with you and takes you through, there will be no destination beyond your reach.
To the graduating class of 2006, I will meet you at the top and nowhere else!