I often wondered what I would write if I were chosen to give a commencement speech. Have you?
I am sure that there is much that we all can offer the “millenials”. Here is perhaps what I would want them to know… (feel free to add your sage wisdom in the comments below)
“To the Class of 2013 – thank you for allowing me a few moments to address you on the day of your graduation from _________(fill in the blank).
You have worked as a student for 12+ years to have the privilege and honor to sit here and receive your diploma. And although you may feel this is YOUR day please note that you haven’t arrived at this graduation without the efforts of others. So, before the day is done please consider the following:
1- Your parents also graduate today, too. They started learning how to best educate and raise you long before your first breath. For many, they too studied, saved and prayed for your safety, well-being and success since the first day you arrived. Your birthday is their “welcome to parenthood day”. So, when you cross the stage to get your diploma think of them and all who helped raise you.
2- Thank your kindergarten teacher. They helped guide you and set the tone for your formal education. They also helped you learn to tie your shoes, share your toys and teach you the rules of how to interact civilly with others. What you learned in kindergarten will stick with you – forever. So, when you see the bully in a boardroom and you know how to diffuse the situation – thank your kindergarten teacher.
3- Thank your coaches. Most kids are plugged in to some formal activity. Whether it is sports, music, drama, art, etc. That means you had a “coach” – someone who encouraged you along your journey to becoming an adult. Thank them today and then thank them in the future by sharing what you learned by becoming a coach to the next generation.
4- Thank the person who said, “You will fail / not succeed”. Chances are that this person sparked an anger and drive in you to want to prove THEM WRONG. Many people who succeed do so because someone said they couldn’t.
5- Thank those who gave you a moral compass. You know who those people are in your life. They were the folks who showed you what is RIGHT with the world and tried to steer you away from the WRONG. Thank them by being a moral compass for another person… the right kind.
6- Thank the doctors who helped you be healthy. One way you can really thank them is to eat healthy, enjoy regular exercise, stop sitting on the couch watching endless TV and video games, don’t drink, drive while intoxicated and do illegal drugs. LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.. so you can actually LIVE A LONG LIFE!
7- Thank those who taught you a set of manners. That is right. Show you care about others by saying PLEASE, THANK YOU, and SORRY. And, then be a real “mensch” and don’t use the “F” word every five seconds.
8. Be thankful to those who allow the United States to have rights and freedoms. So thank those in the military and their families – often.
9- Be thankful that we have the gift of words to help solve problems. Be humble. Be gracious. Be kind. Be patient. Be civil. Keep your emotions in check. Communicate, deliberate and appreciate that many people share your planet with you and many will not agree with your lifestyle choices or your decisions. Agree, however, that we all should try to get along just like the kindergartners on the playground for the first time.
In closing – I wish you much success in this world. You have earned my respect today. Now let’s see if you will go forth and earn the respect of others tomorrow