Every year I write up a commencement address for new graduates. This year my alma mater (Wisconsin Lutheran College) asked me to share some thoughts with the warriors graduating this weekend.
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Someday I’ll actually give one of these speeches live.
1) Be the Best
You are competing with one billion people in China, another billion in India, and half a billion people in North America. If you’re average, then you’ll also be poor, miserable, or replaced. Pure and simple.
To be in demand with this economy, you must be the best at what you do.
It doesn’t matter how you get there. Experience, training, luck, internships, whatever…just be the best.
2) Be Yourself When You Grow Up
Role models are great. Teachers are wonderful. However, when it’s time to pick a path in life, the person you need to be is looking at you in the mirror.
There are a couple reasons why you should be you and not someone else.
1) You’re the best in the world at it. (see #1)
2) Being someone else is hard work and you’ll never be good at it.
3) It wastes a lot of time otherwise. Everyone with half a brain knows you’re trying to be someone else.
4) It makes you unique. You have talents/skills/knowledge that nobody else has. When you be yourself, those unique qualities shine through.
While parents, friends, and others may challenge you to follow someone else’s path, you must resist. Follow your heart. Do what you love.
3) People First
The world revolves around people. You won’t be hired by your iPhone. You won’t be promoted by the laptop you use. Your car won’t be giving you a raise.
I always hear “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That is wrong.
In a hyper-connected world, it’s not who you know, but who you’ve helped. Everyone “knows” everybody, but everybody remembers when someone helps them.
Help as many people as you can.
4) Mean It
If you don’t really care about people, they will know. You’d be better off working with machines or basket weaving.
If you choose to work with people, you need to mean it. No faking.
If you want to help someone, roll up your sleeves and do it.
5) Run or Stay
When you find yourself connected to bad people, run. They will ruin you.
If you find yourself surrounded by great people, stay. They will help you grow.
If you want to fail miserably in anything, walk.
6) Don’t Spend Much Time Watching
It’s fashionable to dedicate large amounts of time to watching celebs and popular “experts” to see what they’re doing. It’s also stupid.
Learning is a good thing, but watching isn’t doing. Groupies are losers.
Winners do. Leaders lead.
Followers just watch.
7) Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time
In the Attention Era, wasting someone’s time is not only rude, but ineffective as well.
Don’t ask if you don’t care. Don’t talk if you don’t have anything valuable to say.
Don’t be boring.
8) Push Until It Hurts
When it hurts, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
If you care about people, they will hurt you. If you dedicated yourself to something, it will fail you. Get ready to cry.
The key is not to fear the pain you might feel, but to fear a path that doesn’t cost anything. All great things cost something.
You get what you pay for.
Graduation isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.
Let’s get it started tonight,
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