White House Christmas Tour,1995
Have you ever looked back in your past and remembered your failures? Have you realized that without those failures you could not have succeeded? The common saying that you have to fail in order to succeed applies to the following past events in my life.
The first event in my life to support the above statement occurred during my elementary school days. When I did not receive the first honor award (I got 2nd honor award) during my elementary school graduation both my parents and I were very disappointed. My parents even contemplated filing an official complaint to the school superintendent against my teacher and principal for nepotism since the valedictorian was a close relative of the teacher and principal.
However, I convinced my parents not to do it. I told them I would work harder in high school to be number one, to show the teacher and principal they made a mistake in the selection process. The whole four years of high school, I competed with the top five honor students from my elementary school. Needless to say, I graduated valedictorian of our high school class. My classmate who was the valedictorian in my elementary school got the salutatorian award (second place). I was happy and felt vindicated. My teacher in elementary school congratulated me but without looking straight into my eye, when my parents invited her to my high school graduation party at our house.
The second event in my life illustrating the statement “you have to fail in order to succeed” was during my graduation with my Bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City in 1955. When I missed graduating cum laude (with Honor) by just 0.24 points, I told myself I would pursue my Ph.D. in the United States to show my professor in Differential Calculus who gave me a “4.0” (condition) grade when I received only 69% in the final exam(I missed 1 point to get a C). I took a retest and passed it with flying colors.
In my chemistry class, there were only 15 of us and only one graduated cum laude. That showed how hard it was to graduate with honor in chemistry at that time. That grade of “4” certainly did deflate my ego and self-esteem. Two years later, my self-esteem was redeemed when I passed the National Board Examination for Chemists, taking 3rd place nation-wide.
My four years average including the “4.0” that I got from Differential Calculus was included in the calculation (not my passing grade of 3.0 after a retest the next day) turned out to be 1.99 (not high enough for honor). But if you calculate my four year average with the 3.0 that I got after the retest, my four year average turned out to be 1.74, enough to receive the cum laude (with honor) award.
When I found this out, I was so furious, I wished my calculus professor be run over by a car or misfortunes fall on her every day of her life. When I saw her in the hallway, I gave her a stare of hate (like an arrow that pierced her heart that did not stop bleeding until she died).
But I vowed to the whole world, I will obtain a Doctorate Degree in the United States to show to my Professor in Differential Calculus what she did to my ego. Looking back, I think I should thank her for what she did, because there were numerous times during my first year in Graduate School, that I wanted to quit. But once I remember the incident, it reminded me of the vow I made to myself not to quit at any cost.
The third event in my life illustrating you have to fail in order to succeed was the culmination of my 22 years of experience working for private industries here in US. I lost my first job in industry of my own free will. I wanted to receive a 20% raise in income as well as move to a warmer climate (West Coast of the US).
The second private industry job that I lost was due to the company moving and closing their agricultural research division and also consolidating their research facility in one location to save money.
I lost my third job in private industry because the firm wanted to save money and also wanted to get out of the pesticide business.
My fourth job loss was the most heart-breaking episode in my career. I had only one day of notice. After working for the firm for 12 years with good performance, it took management only one day to tell me that they not need me any more, good bye, and to look for another job.
That feeling of anger, loss of ego, shock and envy (for those who were not fired) was indescribable and humiliating. I vowed I would never worked for a private firm again in my life. My determination to work for the Federal Government was achieved when I worked for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in the Fall of 1990.
Working for FDA was the best move I have ever made in my career. My 12 years in the FDA was filled with awards, accomplishments and personal growth. Our life in the suburb of Washington, DC was filled with civic involvements, social and cultural activities, humanitarian projects and pleasant memories. The highlight of our stay in the Washington, D.C area was a private tour of the WHITE HOUSE(see photo above).
Receiving a Christmas card from the White House for four years during the Clinton administration was the ultimate fulfillment of a Filipino student dream. Working for the Federal government was icing on the cake. Had any one of the four private firms not failed me, or had retained me as an employee, I would not have had the courage and incentive to work for Food and Drug Administration.
The above three events in my life showed that you have to fail in order to succeed.
How about you? Can you recall a past experienc