In this season of graduations I am often confronted with the uncomfortable blank graduation card. I look at it and strain my brain to come up with something that is wise, introspective, and memorable. A phrase or note that will make the graduate save my card forever, passing it on to their children and grandchildren on their graduation days. I teach, coach and advise kids in the gym and guide them every day, so not only does my card advice need to be life changing, but it should be something I haven’t already said to them. No pressure right?
Then it comes out: “Good Luck….blah blah blah.” Dang.
I started thinking a little ahead of time this year, and came up with some doozies. I thought I should write them down before I forget them, but here are 15 themes I will write about in the next 15 graduation cards. The idea is in bold, the follow up is just commentary.
Go out and be great at EVERYTHING you do. I have always believed that even the smallest tasks should have your own personal signature on them, and that signature should not go on anything that you are not absolutely proud of.
As things get crazy, remember to take time to sit all alone and listen to yourself. I Believe that in contemplation we often find our wisest thoughts. Being un-bothered allows you to develop your own wisdom. Then afterward, go back to the crazy world armed with advice from the wisest person you will ever meet; yourself.
Remember success is 3 simple steps: Think, Act and Enjoy: none of it happens without the other two. We have all been exposed to people who only execute one or two of these steps and they wonder why it never works out. I usually get stuck on step 1, but don’t tell the graduate that.
As you go through life, embrace the fact that you will make many mistakes. Value the lessons they provide you and don’t resent making them. Our gym has always told our team kids that they never lose a meet if they learn from their mistakes (or successes) and make changes to improve the next time around. This is the same advice just told differently.
Ask questions about everything to everyone. I’ve always enjoyed the gymnasts who ask a lot of questions, it shows that they are engaged and looking for direction. Bosses like that too, so do professors. There is no such thing as a stupid question if you truly want to know the answer.
Go out and introduce yourself to everyone, they’ll be proud to know you. Networking is the best resource for success. My mom used to say that “Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know; why not have both going for you?”. As her only shy son, I have learned that lesson over and over. I should have listened to my mom. (That’s actually another great card note: “Listen to your parents.”)
Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life; This is actually a quote by Harvey MacKay but I love it. I struggled for a while until I realized that I love coaching, then I made it my career. I have never been happier. The same is true for anyone who finds their passion and makes it a regular occurrence, whether a job or an active hobby. Many people get confused on this advice though, they think they are supposed to find something “easy” to do that’s fun. It’s not always fun and we would get bored if it were always easy. I just wanted to clear that up.
Go out in the world and be insatiably curious; explore everything everywhere. From ideas to parks and people, investigate everything, you’ll be amazed at how it opens your mind to the world and makes you available when the world comes looking for you.
Be selfish, do what ever you have to do to get that amazing feeling for yourself that comes from helping others. I believe that one of the best feelings a person can have is the one they get from helping someone else.
The only thing constant is change, revel in it and help it along: then it will always work for you. People should not be afraid of change, in fact if they become an agent of change they will always be on the comfortable side of advancement and new things.
Don’t care too much about what others may think of you. Some will love you, some will hate you and some won’t even remember you. If you care too much about any of these groups you can make yourself crazy.
The truth is always the truth and it’s hard to remember lies. Be honest with yourself and everyone you meet. This is a no-brainer.
Go out and live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one. Live within your means, don’t try to impress others and leave a mark on this world that can’t be thrown away.
Be the person you are meant to be. Everyone has a role to play, but as long as we respect each other’s roles and we try to fulfill our own, we will always be happy and successful.
Always find time to laugh at yourself. You’re pretty funny. We all become idiots sometime but it’s more idiotic to beat yourself up over it.