This graduation speech is for those of you who are going to change the world, as well as for those who are going change the world around you. First of all…congratulations!!! The bad news is that I bet many of you are a little scared. You’re probably asking yourself, “Now what?” The good news is that if your parents made it (and “what do they know?”), you can make it too.
This is an exciting time. The world is at your fingertips. The question is: What are you going to make of this opportunity? The answer is: That’s totally up to you. Here are nine valuable lessons to consider as guideposts for your journey through life.
Nine Valuable Lessons Upon Graduation
Pursue your passion. Don’t be a spectator in the game of life. Get off the couch and make your mark. Don’t lose sleep about what might happen, don’t worry about what people might say, and please don’t let anything or anyone extinguish your flame. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You won’t be successful if you don’t try. So pursue your passion, follow your dreams, and make it happen. The truth is, some people don’t live…they merely exist.
Keep life in perspective. Many of us take each day as it comes and then seem surprised to find where life has taken us. The fact is, we drive ourselves crazy with the demanding schedules that we keep. It’s as though we measure success by the quantity of our daily activities rather than the quality of our lives. So don’t get swept away in the current of life. The truth is, checking items off a to-do list doesn’t determine progress; focusing on your priorities is what counts.
Hit lots of singles. Some people believe the only way to achieve success is to swing for the fence. The fact is, you don’t always have to hit the ball out of the park. If you’re trying to save money, lose weight, or achieve any worthwhile goal, don’t discount the power of taking small steps. The truth is, success isn’t only about doing big things; it’s the cumulative effect of doing the right, little things each and every day.
Give it all you’ve got. You often have a choice between enriching your life and supporting others. What many folks don’t realize is that being a taker is a losing game. The fact is, good spouses aren’t self-centered; they put their spouse’s needs ahead of their own. Good friends aren’t selfish; they’ll lend a dime even when it’s their last penny. And good business partners aren’t greedy; they create win-win relationships rather than trying to gain the upper hand. The truth is, giving is like a boomerang –– it often finds its way back to you.
Make a difference. Be a positive force in people’s lives. It doesn’t require a gift from your wallet, but rather a caring heart. Make people feel special; bring out the best in them; and be genuinely happy for their achievements. The truth is, success isn’t measured by what you accumulate in life, but by what you give to others.
Appreciate what you have. Some people are like sharks that spend their whole life consuming. The problem is, these folks are so focused on attaining more that they lose what’s valuable by taking it for granted. So appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had. The truth is, happy people don’t necessarily have more; they’re just satisfied with what they do have.
Own your life. You’ll be faced with decisions every day. You have the freedom to choose the direction that you want to take, to determine the choices that you’ll make, and to decide how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goals. If you want your life to be different, don’t look to others — change it yourself. The truth is, your life is determined by the sum of the choices that YOU make every day.
Make yourself proud. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you meet the expectations of others; what counts is that you meet your own standards. So set the bar high, live your life with integrity, and make yourself proud –– you have to face yourself in the mirror every day. The truth is, if you don’t respect yourself, why should others?
I’m saving one of the most important lessons for last. Believe. The truth is, some of the most important things in life are invisible. Even though you can’t see, touch, or smell them, they’ll have an overriding impact on you and on those around you. They are the intangibles, such as love, trust, integrity, respect, and faith. Even though they’re invisible, learn to appreciate and nurture them. They are invaluable.
One day when you’re old (yes…over 40), you may pause and ask yourself the question: “How did I do?” Here are clues to the answer: Have you learned that happiness is as important as success? Do you care not only about where life has taken you, but about how you got there? Do you care whether you’re living a life of purpose?
At the end of the day, everyone on this earth was born for a reason, what’s yours? So find your passion, be courageous, and live with honor. Congratulations on your graduation. Good luck!