Real advice for today’s graduates — —

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The end of May and June marks the graduation of millions of students from around the world. These students want to leave their mark on a new stage of life, whether in college or in the real world.

Most of these graduates, especially in universities, will have a keynote speaker in charge of inspiring graduates and entertaining families. Many of these speeches will be what graduates want and expect to hear, full of clichés and clichés such as “follow your dreams or passion”, “have unlimited potential” or “today is the first day of the rest of your life “. . ”

While this approach is inspiring at the moment, the best speeches I’ve heard are the ones that offer unconventional wisdom and give a little hard love; these are the things of the new graduates. need to listen. Here are some of my favorites that fit this bill.

David McCullough Jr., Wellesley High School, 2012

David McCullough Jr. he was a high school English teacher best known as the son of a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. In 2012, he gave a 12-minute graduation speech at Wellesley High School, one of the richest cities in America. To the surprise of the audience, his theme was “You’re Not Special,” he mocked and highlighted the disadvantage of student privilege. After the video of his speech went viral, McCullough wrote a book, also entitled You are not special. These were some of his words:

“It’s not about playing the game anymore, it’s not even about winning or losing, learning or growing, or enjoying doing it. Now it’s “And what does this bring me?” As a result, we are stepping up our efforts, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic is becoming more of a Bowdoin application than a well-being for Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic. “

See | Transcript

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, 2005

In 2005, the famous American author and professor gave a speech entitled “This Is Water,” which has since become legendary. Wallace encouraged graduates to maintain perspective and challenged them to constantly question their own beliefs. One of his best lines was:

“A large percentage of the things I tend to be sure of automatically are, it turns out, are totally wrong and misleading. I’ve learned that in a difficult way, because I predict graduates will do the same.”

See | Transcript

Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth, 2014

The award-winning producer focused her 2014 speech on the reality of her experience as an exceptionally busy working mother and the importance of doing, not dreaming. Specifically, Rhimes encouraged students to turn their passion and ideologies into action; Here are some of his best lines:

  • “Stop dreaming and become a fan, not a dreamer.”
  • “Whoever says he can do everything is lying.”
  • “A hashtag doesn’t help. Volunteer for a few hours. Focus on something outside of yourself. Dedicate some of your energy to making the world less sucking every week.

See | Transcript

Steve Jobs, Stanford, 2005

After recently surviving his first battle with cancer, the legendary founder of Apple delivered an emotionally vulnerable speech that has become one of the most watched of all time. Jobs shared many memorable quotes that day, and the tenor of his speech seemed to convey a greater awareness of his own mortality, including these highlights:

“Remembering you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life … Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. Somehow they already know what you really want to be. “

See | Transcript

Natalie Portman, Harvard, 2015

Instead of offering Hollywood splendor, the Academy Award-winning actress delivered a raw, introspective speech at the start of Harvard in 2015. In particular, she stressed the importance of purpose and humility; Here are some of my favorite dates:

  • “Your inexperience is an asset, as it will make you think in original and unconventional ways. Accept your lack of knowledge and use it as an asset. “
  • “Achievement is wonderful when you know why you do it. And when you don’t know, it can be a terrible trap. “
  • “Freeing yourself from your own worries and worrying about someone else’s life for a while reminds you that you are not the center of the universe.”

See | Transcript

While all of these speeches are amazing, my favorite passage from a graduation speech comes from a high school graduation speech delivered by John Roberts, President of the United States Supreme Court.

In 2017, Roberts was the speaker in his son’s class at Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire. His speech was titled “I Wish You Bad Luck” and included the following gem:

“Now, the introductory speakers will also wish you good luck and wish you well. I will not, and I will tell you why. justice.I hope you suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty.I’m sorry, but I hope you feel lonely from time to time so as not to take your friends for granted.

“From time to time I wish you bad luck so that you are aware of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not entirely deserved and that the failure of others is not entirely so. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope that from time to time, your opponent will rejoice in your failure. It’s a way of understanding the importance of sportsmanship. I hope they ignore you because you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you have enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I like these things or not, they will happen. And whether or not you benefit from them will depend on your ability to see the message of your misfortunes. ”

See | Transcript

The world today faces a unique set of challenges. The best we can give today’s graduates is the inspiration and motivation they need to live life to its full potential, as well as the clear reality that doing the job is always difficult, no matter how talented they may be. Long-term success requires humility, tireless endurance, and an understanding that the world does not revolve around us, even if graduation day does.

This post originally appeared in Robert Glazer’s Friday Forward newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.

Contributed by Robert Glazer, a former member of EO Boston who is the founder and chairman of the board of Acceleration Partners, a global partner marketing agency and recipient of numerous industry and corporate culture awards. He is the author of the inspirational Friday Forward newsletter and the No. 1 best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal of five books: Elevate, Friday Forward, How To Thrive In The Virtual Workplace, Moving To Outcomes, and Performance Partnerships. He also hosts The Elevate Podcast.

For more information and inspiration from today’s top entrepreneurs, take a look EO and Inc. and more articles from the EO block.

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