“Never settle for rank 2 or 3! Otherwise, you will find yourself in ranks 4, 5 or worse at the bottom!
Always aim for the top!”
I first heard these lines from my High School Principal — Mrs. Lourdes Bartolabac — during our first flag ceremony when I entered high school. I would never forget these words. And I thought that it made sense. So I took it by heart. And, it served as my rallying mantra through high school, and even until now.
I remember that when I was in elementary, our class adviser in Grade 5 wrote in the board our class ranking from top 1 to 50. Twenty-fourth in the class, that was my rank. I was cool with it because my best friend ranked 30th. So I told myself that I was more brilliant than he was since I was six notches above him. (Now, he is a lawyer!)
I thought then that what I was able to achieve was all I could give. Until I heard the pep talk of our high school principal. And, it gave me a realization that I would treasure my whole life — to never settle for JUST OKAY or mediocrity.
So in my first year of high school, I aimed for (and worked to be) number 1. When the first quarter ranking was announced, I couldn’t believe what I saw — I ranked 5th in my class. I outranked most of my high school classmates (who mostly were my elementary classmates). I think my classmates couldn’t also believe what they saw! Some were in wide smiles and some jaws were dropping. Among the names listed in the board, mine got the loudest applause from my classmates.
When I broke the news to my mom, she just gave me that do-not-pull-that-trick-on-me look. Her reaction was of course understandable. The last time I brought home an award was when I was 5th honor in Grade 1, which was not even in the star section. So telling her that I ranked 5th in the star section in the famous high school in the entire province was probably quite shocking. So when I was finally able to convince her, she just hugged me and gave me her widest smile.
My first year high school ended with me ranking 5th in all quarters.
When I reached my second year high school, I told myself that I could probably stretch myself some more. So I once again aimed for the top honor using the rallying mantra given by our high school principal. This time, I ranked 2nd in all quarters. I finally convinced myself that there is no limit to what you could do as long as you always set a high standard. So, once again, I told myself that I will push myself. I finally ranked 1st honor in the star section for all quarters in my 3rd and 4th years. Then I went to the University of the Philippines in Diliman to pursue Accountancy.
Friends, this is what I want all of you to take from this.
You all want to reach you dreams — becoming the best athlete, champion table topic speaker or hitting big in stock market –, then you should NEVER SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY.
Where you are right now is the result of your dreams and actions taken in the past. You might feel that there is a huge gap between your current status and where you want to be. That is okay. Don’t let the gap scare you — however, how wide it is. Always bear in mind that you can always reduce that gap as long as you set a better standard in all that you do. And the most important thing that you should never forget is you should complement your standards with actions.
Let me end this with these words from Les Brown for all of you to ponder:
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
PS1: Featured photo was taken by Hannah Kirei Duran
PS2: Try these great selection of self-help books. Unless you look for good tools to help you and just simply rely on yourself, then you might find it hard to work on your dreams.