Recently I had the privilege of delivering my third commencement speech. I love graduation ceremonies and what they symbolize: achievement, overcoming adversity, reaching the next level.
Addressing thousands of graduates is a daunting task. With only a few minutes to impart some lasting wisdom, what message would you deliver? I decided to share the 11 principles that have guided me since I wore that graduation robe many moons ago.
In preparing my remarks, I realized that these nuggets didn’t just apply to freshly minted grads; they apply to us all. These are the principles I live by and the philosophies that have enabled my own success. Here’s my advice for graduates, dropouts, young guns, and seniors alike:
1. Put Passion First – People will constantly tell you what you “should” do. Instead of doing what others expect, follow your dreams and your heart. You’ll be much happier, and you’ll make the world a better place too.
2. Build Your Creativity Muscle – This will be your most important skill, and it will allow you to thrive and win. Develop your creativity early and often – it will pay off big-time.
3. Don’t Stumble Over Something Behind You – Regret is the worst human emotion, since you can’t do a thing about the past. You’ll make lots of mistakes, which are nothing more than the portals of discovery. Fail fast, learn, and move on.
4. Leave it Better than You Found it – Every interaction, meeting, project, game, and relationship leaves you with a choice. You can add value or remove it. Do the right thing instead of the easy thing. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Reject Limits – Break free from limits that others try to impose on you. Your ideas, creativity and potential are nearly limitless. Reach for the edges.
6. “Do or Do Not, There is No Try” – This is a quote from Star Wars’ Yoda. Simply put, commit to your dreams and do whatever it takes to reach them.
7. Playing it Safe is Irresponsibly Dangerous – The history books never talk about people that lived small. Those that take risks, shatter complacency, and create their own future are the ones that make the biggest difference. Make your own mark, and never let fear hold you back from your true potential.
8. Embrace Change – The world will continue to change at breathtaking speeds. Those that get locked into one way of thinking get passed by. Standing still is the beginning of the end, so always stay ahead of the curve.
9. Be Appreciative and Humble – Einstein once wrote, “You can live each day as if everything is a miracle, or as if nothing is.” True ‘dat!
10. Be a Lifelong Learner – Continuously sharpen your mind and devour knowledge. Learning constantly will enable success in every area of your life.
11. Have fun! – Life is meant to be savored. Enjoy every sip, sound, and bite.
We all face many challenges, which is why a few guiding principles can serve as a helpful North Star. Play you biggest game and seize the enormous opportunity that’s waiting for you.
No tassel or funny hat required.