Are You Ready to Graduate?
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt
It is time to celebrate a new generation of graduates filled with hopes and dreams to change the world! I am always optimistic about what can happen when we unleash new minds into the workplace. Converging the new generation's energy, excitement, and fresh perspective with the existing generation's life lessons, experiences, and insights is what creates a lasting impact.
To the class of 2021…
After all that we have been through over the past year, we have all gone through some sort of rite of passage. As graduation season is upon us, we should approach this time as a new beginning, a fresh start, a rite of passage, even if it is more a mindset shift than anything else.
When I think of graduation season, I think of the advice we pass on to the wide-eyed grads who are ready to take on the world. There are a few commencement speeches that immediately come to mind as absolute classics: Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005), Michelle Obama (Tuskegee, 2015), David Foster Wallace (Kenyon, 2005), and Natalie Portman (Harvard, 2015). Some times they are funny, some times they are profound, some times they shake us up, and some times they combine all of these elements. What have been your favorite commencement speeches, and why? If you were to give a commencement address, what would you say?
I want to challenge you to write your own mini-commencement speech for an audience of one… that is you, of course. Yes, you read that correctly; write an "imperfect" message to yourself to commemorate this moment in time and share the lessons you have learned about life up to this point. What do you want to remind yourself in this very moment as you embark on your next bold step? There are no rules or proper structure to your commencement speech, but here are some questions to get the juices flowing:
- What are the three most important lessons you learned about yourself?
- What have you learned about others that has truly surprised or inspired you?
- What happened in your environment that made you shift your perspective?
- What fills you with hope as you look into the future?
I recently rediscovered Steve Jobs' commencement address to the Standford University graduating class of 2005. It is inspiring for so many reasons. Steve was not for everyone, but this is speech hit a chord with me. As I looked at it now, I uncovered a few themes: Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life (choose your own path). Don't be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other people's opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. The one line that really hits home is, "Remembering that I will be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment of failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
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