Words of wisdom: Advice for grads of all ages
Collaborating As One University,
Openness and Trust,
Empathy and Compassion,
As we say goodbye to another record-breaking graduating class, I’m becoming a bit nostalgic for my graduations of past. When you graduate, you’re filled with excitement over the possibilities that lay before you, and energized to take on the world. That excitement peaks as we come together for commencement, and listen to the words of wisdom imparted on us by our leaders in the address. We hang on every word, knowing that taking their advice will make us that much more successful.
Now that we’re a few years down the road, many of us have lost the sense of excitement we felt on graduation day. As we get into routines and rush from one place to the next, we forget the difference we’re making, and our passion can be overshadowed. We don’t remember the impact we have, that we work for an institution that’s finding a cure for cancer, researching new ways to feed the hungry across the world, and educating tomorrow’s leaders.
As we move into a new phase of culture transformation, I think it’s a good time to have our own graduation of sorts, and recognize all we’ve accomplished. This is also a good time to find some new inspiration to energize us to continue working toward our goals. All we need to do is to look to the words of wisdom shared in commencement addresses across the nation. Don’t worry – you don’t have to sit through many hours-long (and sometimes boring!) speeches – the New York Times pulled excerpts from some of the most inspiring addresses. Here are a few I found relevant. I hope they offer some inspiration for you.
“Don’t be afraid to shed a tear of happiness for all the blessings and good things that have come your way in life.” John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Practice gratitude, and take a few minutes to remember everything that’s going well. When you step back and appreciate the good, you can become re-energized.
“You’ve got to be all in… [or] something or someone loses out. No more than a surgeon can operate while tweeting can you reach your potential with one ear in, one ear out.” Samantha Power, The National Security Council
Know what’s most important, and focus on your blue chips and practice being fully present. If you don’t, you will hurt someone or something – a loved one, a project, or yourself.
“When I flew in space, I was privileged to witness our Earth from a totally different vantage point, where you see no boundaries between nations and people… Boundaries today are largely political, but even those... are at best constructs that are rapidly changing.” Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA administrator
We each have our own viewpoint, or filters, and most of them are fluid. Look at things from another point of view to see what you’re missing, and appreciate where others are coming from – it’s most likely not that different than what you’re seeing.
“Don’t be afraid of new ideas; be afraid of old ones.” Daniel F. Akerson, Chief executive, General Motors
Too often, we fear change. But we should fear NOT changing, and becoming irrelevant. Embrace change, and the possibilities it brings.
“Honest failure is a badge of experience. All of you will fail at some time in your career, or in love or in life. No one ever sets out to fail. But being afraid to fail means you’ll be afraid to try.” Steve Blank, Technology entrepreneur
Failure is part of success – an acceptable, expected part. When failure occurs in the context of your values, the mistake becomes about the process, not you. Live according to your values, and don’t let your fear of failure get in the way of your possibilities.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? Share it through the comments section.