I noticed there were numerous articles from some very well-known people last week, focusing on the class of 2013. And why not; after all, it is that graduation time of the year.
Here were the titles that most caught my eye:
- Being a Nerd Has Brought Me Success
- 5 Lessons For the Class Of 2013
- The Power of the Pause
- Here’s What I’d Give Up to be You
- Stop Putting Guardrails on Your Future
- You’ll Never Again Be so Unburdened; Do Something Bold
- Here Are the 3 Secrets of Highly Successful Graduates
- Try the Unexpected
I read them all and they all had wonderful advice. This made me reflect back on my graduation experiences…
I don’t remember my high school graduation in 1975 because I was too high and drunk. I don’t say that braggadociously, but rather, with humility, embarrassment and a bit of shame.
I was a mess during that time in my life. It took me many years, too many tears (mostly from my parents) and a lot of money (treatment, counseling, etc.) to get straightened out.
My next graduation was from junior college in 1988 and I was so into trying to catch up for my lost years of addiction, I didn’t even go to the ceremony. It was right on immediately to earn my bachelor’s degree.
I did take a breather in 1990 and attended the graduation ceremony for my four year degree but I don’t remember what was said. Again, I was already on to the next challenge: graduate school.
I also attended the ceremony for my master’s degree in 1992, but again, I don’t remember what was said.
Of course I had already leaped into my career, which, within the next year, ended up with me having my own business, my counseling practice, of which I am still blessed to have.
In the midst of this education and career whirlwind I did not treat my marriage or wife with the care or priority that she needed or deserved, and in 1993 I went through a divorce.
The last 20 years have been a roller coaster with many ups, downs and all-arounds.
I have traveled, obtained multiple certifications and licensures as a counselor and coach, written a book, become a professional speaker and met thousands of people, many of whom I now call friends.
But there are a few things I would do differently, and this is what I’d like to offer as a post script for the class of 2013.
Beware of addiction. Not just the obvious drugs and alcohol compulsions, but the more camouflaged and socially reinforced addictions of spending, eating and gambling.
Know that as great as your education was, you likely learned very little about relationships, especially those very special and highly intimate romantic connections. Go learn all you can about effective communication, conflict resolution and boundary setting, and practice these skills all the time, every day with your life-partner.
Also know that your greatest relationship will be with that person in the mirror. Make knowing, liking and trusting him or her the most important thing you do in life. As selfish as it may sound, this is the secret to all your health, wealth and happiness.
Understand that mental health does not mean the absence of mental illness. How you manage those miraculous five inches between your ears will determine whether you see the world, and your life, as friendly or threatening. Also, take plenty of time to do absolutely nothing frequently. Conscious breathing is very good as well.
Be willing to humble your ego and ask for help over and over and over again. Mentors, coaches, consultants, counselors and trainers will all help you play at your highest level. But you won’t get there by yourself. No one ever has.
You are here for some great reason and unique purpose. There will be those who scowl at such thinking as being too lofty, magical or spiritual. Please ignore them. Surround yourself, instead, with those who believe in you and see the greatness in you.
Remember to give. Pay it forward for your highest reward. Give for the sake of giving. The world has become corrupt due to selfishness and greed. Help uncorrupt things.
And know that your path will not always be easy and that you’ll be tempted to give up and quit many times. This is just part of the Life package. Be grateful for all you DO have and all the freedoms and opportunities you DO have. Be also grateful for all the hard times and mistakes, because they will all shape you to be a better and stronger person.
And in the end, have a legacy that will live long past your physical years. Make a difference every day in every way, and you’ll be a game-changer for generations to come.
You are not here to find a simpler, gentler or easier path; you’re here to do something great for all mankind. Now go find that and do that to the absolute best of your ability.
Hats off to the class of 2013!