I’ve given my share of commencement addresses, and I confess it’s a head-swelling experience to tell a captive crowd how you think they ought to live their lives while wearing an academic robe and a very silly hat. After all, didn’t they come primarily to hear what you have to say? Actually, they didn’t. In fact, graduation speakers are impediments to the real goal of the day – celebration, not reflection.
So what we need is a good one-minute graduation speech. Here’s my effort:
“Okay, folks, you got your degrees. Now you have to move toward other goals. If you don’t have any, borrow the goals of the person next to you. They’re probably as good as any, and besides, true success isn’t always getting what you think you want but learning to want what you get. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is prepare yourself to deal with unavoidable ups and downs and unexpected turns that are almost certain to scuttle the best-laid plans.
“Take control of your life by taking control of your attitudes. Remember, pain and disappointment are inevitable, but tough times are temporary. Persist with confidence that no negative emotion can withstand your will to be happy.
“Listen to both your heart and your head. Pursue your passions, but don’t confuse feelings with facts, fun with happiness, or pleasure with fulfillment. Live within your means. Don’t sacrifice a thousand tomorrows for a few todays.
“Be especially careful of choices that can jeopardize your health, reputation, or important relationships. Safeguard your integrity. You never know when you’ll need it.
“Finally, don’t settle for a little life. Fill it with purpose and meaning and people worthy of your love and respect.”
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.