Graduation Thoughts

May is the time of year that we see many completing degrees or finishing high school.  My oldest son, Zach, just completed his bachelor’s degree.  One of our team members, Trevor, finished his MBA. 

One thing that is typical of graduation are graduation speeches.  Typical themes in these oratories are often like these: “the world is waiting for your talents”, “you are entitled to great things”, or “what you have completed today is your first step to lifelong success”.  Often, these speeches are filled with clichés and ideas that just are not true with real life.  So, in the effort of being realistic, I offer some of the following.

The world is not waiting for your talents and does not care who you are.  Once you begin a new job, you always begin as the new guy.  Your boss and co-workers already have a set way of doing things and often the new folks on the team will take more time and energy and may be viewed as a distraction by some in getting their work complete.  You must go out there and prove yourself.  Even if you are the number one draft pick on a professional sports team, you still have to prove yourself. 

You are not entitled to anything.  This is the unfortunate carry over of how we have coddled children throughout their lives.  We do whatever we can to insulate them from hardship and disappointment.  We now have snowflakes who think they have a right not to be disappointed, offended, or hurt.  About the only thing I can guaranteed that you will have are problems and obstacles.  It is how you approach those that will refine your character.

You will experience failure and success, not only success.  I have always learned more from my losses than I have from my wins.  Take to heart Winston Churchill’s thoughts, “Success is going from failure to failure with great optimism.” 

Learn persistence to stick through the tough times.  Quitters will never make it to the finish line.  Often the true people who finish the race may not be the smartest or most talented.  They are the ones who want to finish it, more than the others around them.  They decide to push forward, no matter how bad they may want to quit and lie down.

You have only started to learn what you need to know.  Completing a degree is wonderful, but you have barely started to learn what you need to succeed in life.  Commit to life-long learning.  Realize that your best education will happen outside of the classroom.  Treat every day as a new entrance into the school of life and learn all that you can.

Never forget to be full of gratitude.  Take time each day and set aside special time at the end of the week to thank those who have given to you of their time, talent, and treasure.  Never allow yourself to become so important that you lose sight of being thankful.  It helps you to stay grounded.

Find out who you are and your purpose, then live it out.  We all struggle with these questions.  You need to discover the answers and then orient your life to fulfilling your missions.

Never lose sight of the power of one individual.  A single person can have incredible power to make a difference in the world, once they out their mind to it and devote their energies to the cause.  Don’t just settle for what can be done in the group.  Work to excel in whatever roles you have personally and those in the group.  So, go make a real difference.