My Graduation Speech

(As excerpted from Gymfinity staff newsletter)

Some day, someone at a prestigious college will give me an honorary doctorate to appear as a graduation speaker. This year as we have 5 staff and 2 team members graduating I have been thinking of the typical drivel that speakers usually deliver and couldn’t help but think: I could do it better (of course that’s what I think about everything). If I were to be given the chance to speak, I would say:

“Congratulations, you’ve finished the easy part. I have three pieces of advice for you. First understand that as you go out into your life, remember that “true success isn’t always getting what you think you want, but learning to want what you get*”.  People succeed by playing well the hand they are dealt, not complaining about the dealer.  Though I would never encourage sitting back and waiting for life’s deal, I would encourage grabbing the deck, shuffling, and dealing it out yourself.  But there are times when you will be forced to play other people’s deals. Do it with a smile and await the chance to grab the deck.
My wife,Stephanie, reminded me this morning of the second piece of advice. She brought up a favorite song by a singer that I used to really be into. In the Ani DeFranco song 32 flavors she sings “God help you if you are a phoenix and you dare to rise up from the ash, a million eyes will smolder in jealousy while you are just flying there”. How appropriate. It’s a warning to the motivated that, as you succeed, others will be jealous and envious of the good fortune your hard work has rendered, but you should just be you, do what you have to do, be happy about it and keep flying. Simple.
Lastly, and to sum up with the third bit of advice; don’t settle for a little life. Make a dent, leave your mark. Success is changing someone else’s life for the better, selfishly pursue that end at all costs. Your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your boss, your teachers, and even strangers should all be raised to the better merely by your interaction. If you can do that, not only will you be satisfied but history will record you as a success in every aspect” 
These may be lofty words, but isn’t that what we want to share? Don’t we want to set the bar high and encourage our children to reach beyond it? I hope that one day, when my children graduate, that someone speaks with authority and tells them to play a part in their own destiny, to dream big, to realize their dreams and live to make the world a better place. If they are set on that course, if all children are set on that course, then the world will be a better place and mankind, will be forever satisfied.
I originally wrote this in our staff newsletter as a note to our graduates, but as I think about it; do we need to be graduating in order to hear this type of advice?  Do we need the transition between life’s chapters as an excuse to ponder our direction? If so, than I choose to think that every morning is another transition. Every day we need to set our course and live each day as if it were the first day of Summer break.
 Good Luck in your futures to all graduates and Congratulations to our graduates: Jenna Stoikes (Verona), Kaitlyn Verhelst (Verona), Katie Hayes Edgewood school of nursing), Meghan Wilson (Verona) and Nicole Cunningham (Oregon). The world is your’s.
* Ouoted from: Michael Josephson: CharacterCounts!

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