When I was 10 years old, I remember telling myself that someday when I will have children, I will try my best for them not to experience what I'm experiencing. At that time, potable water was a scarcity in our town and we had to fetch water from faraway places. Being a small and thin girl, you could just imagine that my lean arms would be carrying 2 gallons of water and we had to walk kilometres to and from the source carrying those water containers. It was improved 2 years later with a makeshift car (wooden cart) and I have to help push the cart carrying the water containers. At that time, I had imagined myself in the future staring at a window while I fill up my glass with potable water from a faucet. It was free to dream, right? This was almost 40 years ago and I could just laugh and cry at the same time now because the vision has been fulfilled. From farmlands in the Philippines to a City in Canada, that's a BHAG.
I am not ashamed of my past, I came from a poor family and just because my parents were industrious, faithful and ambitious, our lives improved. The same as other families with OFW (overseas Filipino worker), we took the risk and sacrificed our being together as a family when my Dad had to leave to work in the Middle East starting when I was 12 years old until all of us (the 3 children) finished university degrees. My young mind was exposed to drastic changes and great improvement initiated by big, hairy ambition. It dawned on me that there is hope and everything is possible if you are focused and worked really hard to achieve your goals. There were lots of sacrifices and out-of-comfort zone scenarios but they all paid off. We were also faithful to God, we believed that He gives blessing to those who earnestly seek Him. Do you remember my first Christmas prayer?
Now when I went to school, I didn't stop dreaming. I graduated with honours in elementary but I was not a Valedictorian, not the top so that motivated me to dream bigger. I graduated as a little above average High School student (at least top 5% of class) because I enjoyed my youth and filled up my schedule with extra curricular activities, still not the top, more room to improve.
These activities (school paper, peer facilitating, Girl Scout, school librarian, leadership camps and lots of organization) in a university-like high school (6000 graduating class at that time) molded me and exposed me to becoming a leader at a young age. It didn't stop me from envisioning my life to be better. I was a working student in college, it was hard juggling school and work but the ambition was still there and it drove me to work harder and accomplish more. My goal then was to be exempted for final exams and that meant getting good grades all throughout the term. It was always a relief to find that despite not showing up in some classes because of work, I still ended up exempted and getting good grades.
When I started working, I was blessed to have started my career in a service-oriented multinational company. The experience exposed and trained me to be quality-driven and taught me how to deal with foreigner bosses. It also gave me a chance to travel and meet employees from same company in Asia. My very first business trip was to attend a workshop in Singapore when I was only 24. Would you believe that I was the youngest and I was the only female in that group? At that young and ambitious age, I told myself that after Asia, I dream to be sent to Americas then to Europe. That dream was realized many years later when I went to the US (Texas and New York) with my American employer and now with another global company sending me to UK (to represent Toronto) and back again to the US (to represent Canada).
I have not stopped making my BHAGs, every time my goal will be realized, I moved on to the next. Of course, there are always bottlenecks, detractors, blockage - something or someone to prevent you from achieving your goals or grabbing the credit from you or making you fail or real failures. But that should not stop me. I could have given up a long time ago - when a coworker would prefer another person to be in your spot, or when a Manager didn't believe in you, when someone stole the limelight from you because you are just a support or "you are a woman in a man's world", when someone tells you that "people of colour or a different accent will not make it in the boardroom" BUT I didn't give up. I also received cold shoulder, snobbish looks, backbiting comments. I would set up meetings and nobody will show up or you will receive last minute bail out. In meetings, I experienced being thrown off the bus or my ideas ditched and told to my face it won't work, or "maybe in Asia but not here". I just cried silently it's the natural reaction, grieve but only for a while. Don't let it drown you and you will lose focus.
Here are the things I remember doing:
1. While I'm down, admitted that I can't do it on my own- anchoring and drawing my strength in God's words. Pray for guidance and comfort.
2. If there are still thoughts of it coming back, all those negative thoughts - brush it all off.
3. Research and contemplate on the word "resilient".
4. People - Rely on your support system. I owe a lot too to my family and friends who are always there, who continued to cheer, encourage and inspire. There are people who reminded me that if a door closes, a window opens, so do not give up, continue to do good, look for opportunities and deliver brilliantly.
5. Forget the past, look to the future - One day, your day will come, your light will shine and you will get there.
I admit I'm not there yet, I didn't say I don't have a dream to become a CEO someday, I'm not even a Manager yet but who knows. Maybe my goal is to just become a catalyst or change-driver or someone who is instrumental in making a huge change a success. Or maybe my ambition is to just sit in a boardroom from a high floor with global counterparts, making a decision or new process for the global companies to follow. Maybe my dream has been realized, or about to, who knows? I'm not particular with positions, but with connections and with impact and how I can contribute to making a change and making an ambition become a reality - whether it is a global ambition or personal, I'm all for it and I should not stop now. In the same way as I've learned before even with hardships or blockages, just continue to dream, believe and survive.
Have faith in God, He made us to be great, believe that you can do it, and do not stop learning and excelling. Once you are there, move on to the next!
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed " Proverbs 16:3
I could just sing this forever - "My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord, He has done Great things to me."