photo from http://www.latimesblog.latimes.com
WHAT’S BETTER THAN…
A Speech by Butch Jimenez at the UP Diliman Class 2003 Commencement Exercises
As college students, you’re just about to set sail into the real world. As you prepare for the battleground of life, you’ll hear many speeches, read tons of books and get miles of advice telling you to work hard, dream big, go out and do something for yourself, and have a vision.
Not bad advice, really. In fact, following these nuggets of truth may just bring you to the top. But as I’ve lived my life over the years, I have come to realize that it is great to dream big, have a vision, make a name, and work hard. But guess what: There’s something better than that.
So my message today simply asks the question, what’s better than…?
Let’s start off with something really simple. What’s better than a long speech? No doubt, a short one. So, you guys are in luck because I do intend to keep this short.
Now, let me take you through a very simple math exam. I’ll rattle off a couple of equations, and you tell me what you observe about them. Be mindful of the instructions. You are to tell me what you observe about the equations.
Here goes: 3+4=7, 9+2=11, 8+4=13, and 6+6=12. Tell me, what do you observe?
Every time I conduct this test, more than 90 percent of the participants immediately say, 8+4 is NOT 13, it’s 12!
That’s true and they are correct. But they could have also observed that the three other equations were right. That 3+4 is 7, that 9+2 is 11, and that 6+6 is 12.
What’s my point? Many people immediately focus on the negative instead of the positive. Most of us focus on what’s wrong with other people more than what’s right about them. Examine those four equations. Three were right and only one was wrong. But what is the knee-jerk observation? The wrong equation.
If 10 people you didn’t know were to walk through that door, most of you would describe those people by what’s negative about them. He’s fat. He’s balding. Oh, the short one. Oh, the skinny girl. Ahhh, ‘yung pango. Etc.
Get the point? It’s always the negative we focus on and not the positive.
You’ll definitely experience this in the corporate world. You do a hundred good things and one mistake-guess what? Chances are, your attention will be called on that one mistake.
So what’s better than focusing on the negative? Believe me, its focusing on the positive. And if this world could learn to focus on the positive more than the negative, it would be a much nicer place to live in.
We have always been told to work hard. Our parents say that, our teachers say that, and our principal says that. But there’s something better than merely working hard. It’s working SMART.
It’s taking time to understand the situation, and coming out with an effective and efficient solution to get more done with less time and effort. As the Japanese say, “There’s always a better way.”
One of the most memorable case studies I came across with as I studied Japanese management at Sophia University in Tokyo was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan’s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a box of soap that was empty. It immediately isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty.
Management tasked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast.
But a rank-and-file employee that was posed the same problem came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.
Clearly, the engineers worked hard, but the rank-and-file employee worked smart. So what’s better than merely working hard?
It’s working smart. Having said that, it is still important to work hard. If you could combine both working hard and working smart, you would possess a major factor toward success.
I will bet my next month’s salary that many have encouraged you to dream big. Maybe even to reach for the stars and aim high.
I sure heard that about a million times right before I graduated from this university.
So I did.
I did dream big. I did aim high. I did reach for the stars. No doubt, it works. In fact, the saying is true: “If you aim for nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll hit: nothing.”
But there’s something better than dreaming big. Believe me, I got shocked myself. And I learned it from the biggest dreamer of all time, Walt Disney.
When it comes to dreaming big, Walt is the man. No bigger dreams were fulfilled than his. Every leadership book describes him as the ultimate dreamer. In fact, the principle of dreaming and achieving is the core message of the Disney hit song, “When You Wish Upon a Star”.
“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are; anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do,” as Jiminy Cricket sang.
But is that what he preached in the Disney Company?
Well, not exactly. Kinda, but not quite. The problem with dreaming is if that’s all you do, you’ll really get nowhere. In fact, you may just fall asleep and never wake up.
The secret to Disney’s success is not just dreaming, it’s IMAGINEERING. You won’t find this word in a dictionary. It’s purely a Disney word. Those who engage in Imagineering are called imaginers. The word combines the words “imagination” and “engineering.”
In the book “Imaginers,” Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, claims that “imaginers turn impossible dreams into real magic.”
Walt Disney explained there is really no secret to their approach. They just keep moving forward-opening new doors and doing new things, because they are curious. And it is this curiosity that leads them down new paths. They always dream, explore and experiment. In short, Imagineering is the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.
Eisner expounds on this thought by saying that “Not only are imaginers curious, they are courageous, outrageous, and their creativity is contagious.”
The big difference with imaginers is that they dream and then they DO! So don’t just be a dreamer, be an imaginer.
What’s better than vision You must have all been given a lecture at one time or another about the importance of having a vision.
Even leadership expert John Maxwell says that an indispensable quality of a leader is to have a vision. The Bible also makes it very clear that “Without vision, people perish.” So no doubt about it, having a vision is important to success.
But surprise! There’s something more potent than a vision. It’s a CAUSE. If all you’re doing is trying to reach your vision and you’re pitted against someone fighting for a cause, chances are you’ll lose.
The Vietnam War is a classic example. Literally with sticks and stones, the Viet Cong beat the heavily armed US Army to surrender, primarily because the US had a vision to win the war, but the Vietnamese were fighting for a cause.
In the realm of business, many leaders have visions of making their company No.1, or grabbing market share, or forever increasing profits.
Nothing really wrong with that vision, but take the example of Sony founder Akio Morita. He did not just have a vision to build the biggest electronics company in the world. In his biography, “Made in Japan,” he reveals that the real reason he set up Sony was to help rebuild his country, which had just been battered by war. He had a cause he was fighting for. His vision to be an electronics giant was secondary.
What’s the difference between a vision and a cause? Here’s what sets them apart… No one is willing to die for a vision. People will die for a cause. You possess a vision. A cause possesses you. A vision lies in your hands. A cause lies in your heart. A vision involves sacrifice. A cause involves the ultimate sacrifice.
Just a word of caution. You must have the right vision, and you must be fighting for the right cause. In the end, right will always win out.
It may take time, and it may take long. But if you have the right vision and are fighting for the right cause, you will prevail. If not, no matter how sincere you are, if you are not fighting for what is right, you will ultimately fail. The Bible, which says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Having been given the opportunity to study in UP, no doubt, much has been given to you in terms of an excellent education. Don’t forget that in return, much is now required of you to use that education not just for yourself, but for others.
And as you move up and start reaching the pinnacle of success, even more will be required of you to look at the welfare of others, of society and of the country.
A final review:
* What’s better than focusing on the negative? Focus on the positive.
* What’s better than working hard? It’s working smart.
* What’s better than dreaming? Imagineering.
* What’s better than doing something for you? Doing something for your country.
* What’s better than a vision? A cause.
* What’s better than a long speech? Definitely, a short one.
Thank you and congratulations, UP Diliman graduating class of 2003.
“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”