June 08, 2013

Sage Advice

June 8, 2013 Photo of the day: 
"Sage Advice" (pun definitely intended :)

It's graduation season, despite the fact that Pewaukee High School still has another week of exams. I have been helping Melis, our lovely Turkish AFS student, with her graduation speech for next week, so I have been researching some of the greatest commencement speeches. Here is some sage advice for new graduates...and for the rest of us:
  • Steve Jobs, Standford 2005: "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 ... Stay hungry, Stay foolish."
  • Conan O'Brien, Harvard 2000 -"I've dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you're desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way...So, that's what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over."
  • Ellen Degeneres, Tulane 2009: "Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that."
  • Bono, University of Pennsylvania, 2004: "The future is not fixed, it's fluid. You can build your own building, or hut or condo, whatever; this is the metaphor part of the speech by the way. But my point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape. Now if I were a folksinger I'd immediately launch into "If I Had a Hammer" right now, get you all singing and swaying. But as I say I come from punk rock, so I'd rather have the bloody hammer right here in my fist. That's what this degree of yours is, a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it."
  • Oprah Winfrey, Stanford 2004: "What I've found is that difficulties come when you don't pay attention to life's whisper, because life always whispers to you first. And if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you'll get a scream. Whatever you resist persists. But, if you ask the right question — not why is this happening, but what is this here to teach me? — it puts you in the place and space to get the lesson you need."
  • Winston Churchill, The Harrow School, 1941: "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
From my own 1992 Marquette University commencement address by First Lady Barbara Bush: "In the past, our families taught us how to respect one another, how to love and be loved, which carried over into our communities. Along the way, we lost some of that.'' Mrs. Bush went on to remind us of the virtues of literacy, volunteerism, and making time to be with our families.

This year's Marquette commencement speech was delivered by Dr. Bill Cosby: "It’s about accepting the challenges of one’s own ideas, clarifying the unanswered questions and pursuing the excitement of discovery.”

Definitely sage advice!