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In honor graduation this year, I thought I would share 3 of my favorite commencement addresses that address 3 very different topics from 3 very different angles. You’ll hear from a poet philosopher, a genius billionaire CEO, and and an Naval Admiral. A lot of great lessons here. Most importantly:
Be kind, empathetic, and remember life does not revolve around you. Remember what’s important. (DFW)
Trust your gut. Find what you love and pursue it relentlessly. Don’t settle. (SJ)
Doing the little things right turn in to the big things. Never give up (WMR)
A theme I always notice from unconventional people that have done extraordinary things is their focus on death. Not morbidly, but as a reminder that what we do here isn’t really important in the long run and that it all ends. When you keep that in mind, it’s easy to make the right decision and not be stymied by short-term fear or embarrassment.[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]
This is Water by David Foster Wallace
“If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.” – David Foster Wallace
Steve Jobs at Stanford
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
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Adm. William McRaven at UT
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses. (listen to the speech for what a circus is)
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
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