To The Class of 2019 -
You sit now in a place where possibilities are limitless, your ambition is boundless and there is not a single barricade before you.... why should there be?
When tomorrow's sunshine hits your hung over head, the reality of the life before you will really sink in... There will be more foggy mornings, and as sure as they come and go, the roller coaster of life's achievements and failures will dip and turn.
You'll find a job and lose one. You'll secure a major partnership, close a huge deal, rectify an accounting mishap, develop a patent, found a company, save a life, or develop a new technology that improves human engagement..... and through it all there will be songs that make you smile and movies that make you cry and books that bring you back to this very moment... when the world opened it's arms to you.
There was a man who stood before a class like yours on a day like this and told them that they were not special....
WHAT AN ASSHOLE!!!!
As you sit in your cap and gown today, you had better believe that you are special!!!! There are people born addicted to drugs. There are those who were born into lifestyles where college was simply not an option. The opportunity you have is not just about you, it is about those who have not (and will never) have the privilege that you have.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
You'll sit in your car 10 minutes early for work wishing you were back here with these wonderful people who gave birth to your ambition. Then, you'll shut off the engine and walk into what will be another of the 7,500 days of work that absorb the greater part of your life.
7,500 days. That's 30 years of work with 2 weeks vacation.
With that statistic in mind, you might want to take a moment, right now, to ask yourself one very important question:
Are You Prepared to Love What You Are Going to Do for the Rest of Your Life?
The most miserable people I know dedicated 100 hours a week to their first job and lost their family in the process. They then started another job (and another family) and lost them too.
If the standards for your happiness relate to financial gain at any cost, you will never succeed!
One of 3 things I can tell you today is that:
Those who put money first, fail!
You might fall in love with the girl in accounting or the boy from the warehouse. Don't ever allow a person's position on the occupational hierarchy to dissuade you from loving them. Judgment of one's trade has no contribution to the collective (and highly unprofessional) human agreement called love.
What got you here today?
Do you remember the little league championship you won or the first boy you kissed. Each are equally important.
Which brings me to my second recommendation:
The respect you extend your waiter is far more important than folding your hands in-front of your CEO.
You may feel as though you are at the top of your social hierarchy at the moment.... please believe.... you will fail miserably, lose friends, find yourself less-attractive in the mirror and struggle to put your perfect resume in the right hands.
The same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down!
Long before your beautiful heads emerged from your mother's bodies, there was a man called John Lennon. He had a smack problem and was a bad drunk, so don't let your Dad tell you he was the second coming of God. But before we talk about him, let's reflect on that fact that each of you emerged from the body of the woman.
Gentlemen - take one second to thank the woman nearest you.....
They are the reason we are here, the reason we will strive to achieve greatness, and the people who will bail us out if all the dreams that fill our heads today fail to reveal themselves.
Be willing to take any job offered you and to elevate yourself through the hierarchy.
Be OK with the next decade of your life mirroring a flight tasting..... try a few different things and see what sticks, where you find intrigue, and how you find your individual gift contributing to the greater good. NOW is the time to experiment. You'll likely not have that luxury when you are my age.
The degree that is soon to hit your hands is massively important.... you carry the hopes of those who were not fortunate enough to earn one.... experience is important.... try, fail and try again... creativity is important... try to see that other side of everything.
You will succeed!
You will fail!
... and in the moment when you least expect it, when life's frustrations seem to have derailed you, your eyes will lock with those of a person across the room and all the worries you've ever had will turn into the motivation of serving a higher purpose.
Beyond professional advice or the validation of the journey that brought you here, I leave you with the words of the aforementioned forgotten hero, John Lennon:
"ALL YOU NEED... is LOVE"!
Congratulations on your remarkable achievement! Remember that you ARE special! Go now and find what you love!