Tis the season.. Mid May brings a flurry of busy activities, finals, and of course Graduations across the country. No matter how old you are, you can put yourself back in that spot, remembering the unusual feeling of something new on the horizon, something unknown, a mixture of excitement, a little anxiety and uneasiness, and sadness that everything and everyone you have known for the last 18 years is about to be flipped on its head.. forever.
I get to experience the excitement and anxiety of thousands of seniors across Middle TN as our team delivers their caps and gowns each spring. Having graduated exactly 20 years ago to the day.. I thought I would offer a little advice to all those graduating. Maybe its possible to glean a little bit of wisdom from these words, and maybe a piece will stick with you as you embark on your next venture.. be it in school, a career.. or even a long vacation to try and figure out your next move. People always ask.. if you could go back and tell your (insert age here) self something, what would it be. Well, here it is:
Don’t stress the small stuff.. because it is ALL small stuff. Unless you are dealing with the death of a loved one, or some serious medical issues.. life is full of little hills and valleys. We have a keen ability of amplifying these hills and valleys into mountains and deep chasms.
Work Hard. You will always hear people say to work smart. While working smart will always help you.. nothing will ever replace good old fashioned Hard Work. The most successful people in any field or career have worked their butt off to get there. The feeling of accomplishment that you gain from accomplishing something that requires hard work is unmatched. You earn the right to work smart. A combination of both will make you incredibly successful in whatever you choose to do.
Never burn a bridge, no matter what the circumstance. You will be surprised how many circumstances you will face down the road, where a former classmate, co-worker, friend, or associate will be in a position to help you. Its important to take the high road no matter what the situation.. it will pay it forward for you.
Be an incredible person in every facet of life. If you will wake up every morning trying to be the best version of yourself that you can be.. you will have an amazingly fulfilled life. Be the best son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, friend, student, employee, entrepreneur, athlete that you can possibly be every day. This will enrich the life of everyone around you, and make everyone you encounter try to be a better version of theirselves as well. Just try it for a week and see.
Always tell the Truth. Honesty is the best policy.
Never sacrifice your Character or Integrity. You own these, and a man’s Worth is based on these two pillars.
Set goals, hand-written goals that are attainable. Reach these goals, then set new ones.
Find a group of like-minded people that you can grow with, compete with, and count on to pick you up and hold you accountable.
Call your Mom and Dad. Not a text or an email.. but at least a weekly phone call where you can hear their voice, their love and concern for you.
Face your fears. This is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, but will give you the greatest feeling in your life when you overcome them.
Make God a part of your life. Read his word, pray daily, and study with like-minded people.
Best of luck to you as you start this new venture in your life. Enter the real world with your head up, chest out, and be prepared to think, fight and compete in an increasingly globally competitive environment.
Oh.. and in twenty years, you will look back and tell yourself you shouldn’t have stressed so much about that prom date.