Thank you for inviting me to be a graduation speaker. I’ll keep my comments somewhat brief.
There are a couple messages I’d like to share with you this afternoon – I think they are essential to a life well lived.
Message number one: you have control over your life.
This is so important, I’m going to repeat those words – YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR LIFE.
There are a lot of people who are going to want to control you. There are people who will tell you you’re a victim. There are people who will tell you how great they would have been if they had only caught a break. There are people who believe they are a cork in a river and they are destined to go wherever the current takes them.
Those people are wrong.
Yes, sometimes horrible things happen to good people – and sometimes good fortune smiles on horrible people. But they are the exceptions. The people standing in line for lottery tickets hooping that will bring them riches are losers. The people working 70 hours a week hoping that will bring them riches are winners. For the most part, your life is the sum total of the decisions you make.
You are going to be involved in a daily struggle for control of your life. Government is going to want to control you. Corporations are going to want to control you. Other people will want to control you. Those are very powerful forces. You’re going to have to be strong to win the battle for control of your life – but you’re up to the challenge.
Control of your life is message number one. important message number two??? Life is a competition.
Now, that might not a popular message with some people. We got into this bizarre mindset a few years ago that we need to tell kids that everyone’s a winner – that nothing is more important than building self-esteem. So we started giving every player on 7th place soccer teams end-of-season trophies.
I hate to tell you this, but nobody’s going to give you a trophy for a 7th place finish from this point on. Those of you going on to college already know – it’s a pretty fierce competition. Kids with 3.6 GPAs are getting wait-listed…
When you head into the job market, if there are 20 people going after one position, they don’t even give you a trophy for second place… you either get the job or you don’t. But here’s the good news – in a competition, you can often outwork your opponent. If he or she works 40 hours a week and you bust your tail for 60 hours a week, you can make good things happen.
You have control over your life – and that life is a competition.
Now, let’s get to the most important decision you will ever make in your life. This is a decision so important it can make everything else I’ve talked about today relatively meaningless.
It is a choice that can undo all of your other good decisions – or it can help you overcome all of your bad decisions.
Because the most important element in your life is who you choose to spend your life with. If you’re as special as I think you are, you are deserving of having good worthy people around you in your life. With both friends and partners, do not settle for someone who doesn’t make you laugh. Do not settle for someone who doesn’t share your ambitions, your values, your desire to live life to the fullest.
And if you find that person who builds you up, who challenges you, who makes you laugh – don’t take them for granted. The world can be a nasty place. If your friends and your home is always a safe haven – a place of love and mutual respect – there is very little the world can do to make you miserable.
My final crucial piece of advice -set goals.
I have a lifetime goals list – I started it 25 years ago. I wrote down some of the things that I wanted to do in life. Many of them I’ve accomplished live on my radio show – jumping from the highest bungee bridge in North America… riding in an unlimited hydroplane… skydiving…
Make a list of what you want to do and pursue it with passion. Some people call it a dream list. I do not. Dreams are what happen while you’re sleeping. This is a life list because this is what you will make happen while you are truly living.
You’re going to leave here today and continue to live the amazing adventure that is your life. You’re off to a great start. Keep living that life with focus and passion.
And don’t screw it up… this is the only shot we get at it.