Admiral William McRaven's commencement speech (10 lessons he learned in Navy Seal training) at the University of Texas in 2014 went viral. Probably the best advice I've heard in speeches at my university was Wendy Lea's address in 2017 --"Stay in a beginner's mind," "Nothing is more magical than sharing," "All jobs are temporary" and more.
In 2017 Sue Desmond-Hellman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke at a commencement in Dayton. I read her address in a local newspaper and later found it online. Much was motivational but at the heart of it was a very sound suggestion: “I want to encourage you to lead a meaningful life.” Below I share several key points from this part of her speech:
- “No job, regardless of the pay or perks, can take the place of a meaningful life."
- “Don’t limit your ambitions to making a living; challenge yourselves to live a meaningful life.”
- Don’t just “make a dollar” –“make a difference”
- "Don’t just settle for personal happiness” – “fulfill a noble purpose.”
- “Shortcomings, failures, bad luck, heartache” are all part of life.
- “No meaningful life is lived as an unbroken string of successes.”
1. “Be genuine.”
- “Show up as your true self.”
- “Revel in your individuality”
- “Embrace your uniqueness.”
- “Know that every new experience will make you feel a bit uncomfortable.”
- In moments “of discomfort, remember that who you are deep down and what you’ve learned throughout your life to date is what got you to that opportunity.”
- “Never hide what makes you, you.”
- “You’ll depend on others throughout your life, and you should welcome that.”
- “Remember to say thank you.”
I am reminded of Clayton Christensen's question: "How will you measure your life?" Here I have shared Sue Desmond-Hellman's advice and links to advice from Steve Jobs, Admiral Raven, and Wendy Lea. I find much wisdom in each of these. What is the most important advice? It will vary from individual to individual. Your most important take-away will probably be different from mine. But I think the odds are high that within these four commencement speeches you will find useful nuggets of wisdom.
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© John Ballard, PhD, 2018. All rights reserved.
Author of Decoding the Workplace, BEST CAREER BOOK Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2016.
"Decoding the Workplace: 50 Keys to Understanding People in Organizations is as informed and informative a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. . . Decoding the Workplace should be considered critically important reading for anyone working in a corporate environment." —Midwest Book Review