Verona High School
June 17, 2016
Members of the Board of Education, parents, staff, and the Class of 2016, it is an honor to be with you this evening. Graduates, today I want to leave you with three very important lessons in life before your send off into the real world.
Lesson number one, do what you love, and if you do, then work won’t feel like a job. I’ve been very fortunate, I have been blessed with loving the work I do each and everyday. Find your undying passion, set goals for yourself, and then work tirelessly to accomplish those goals. The key to life is to be committed to a cause bigger than yourself. If you are able to do that, life will reward you with joy and happiness.
The second lesson. Show up. Never be reluctant to work long hours. Be disciplined, put in the time, practice, study, and work hard, put in even more time, all of the time. Venus and Serena Williams were up hitting tennis balls at 6 a.m. from the time they were 7 and 8 years old. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur, didn’t take a vacation day for seven years while starting his first business. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, begins each day emailing people at 4:30 in the morning. He’s the first in the office and the last to leave. That’s a little tip that will impress your college professors and every boss you will ever have. If you approach life with that attitude, that nobody can outwork you, you will be more than halfway to the finish line. There is no substitute for hard work. Just make sure you enjoy the journey on the way there.
And the third and final lesson, take on those challenges that life will definitely throw at you. Do not shy away from them. If you are taking on life as you should, then you will likely face these challenges and fail often. Don’t get discouraged. If you’re not failing often, you’re likely taking the easy road. Achievement is earned. For the most part, we usually only see the final product, the championship team, the concert performance, the college acceptance, the new job. But it’s much more than that. “Achievement is an accumulation of hundreds of small efforts and sacrifices that no one ever sees or appreciates.” (Tracy, Brian). Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and was trusted 26 times with the ball with less than 30 seconds left for the game winning shot, but missed. Still, he’s arguably the best basketball player of all time. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until the age of four, but Einstein won the Nobel Prize and was one of the greatest scientists of all time. Steve Jobs was removed from the company he founded, but he is the genius behind the product in many of your pockets right now that you can’t live without.
Remember that brick walls are there in life to test you. To see how badly you want something. Regardless of what others may say, adversity is your friend. Accept the challenges and obstacles in life, the trials and tribulations. In fact, learn how to lean into those uncomfortable challenges and tackle them head on. Trust me, you will be stronger because of it.
Robert F. Kennedy said that “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Graduates, you have the ability to dare greatly. To achieve personal brilliance. But achieving your goals can only be accomplished by a focus and commitment, with hard work as you search for that which nourishes your soul. Class of 2016, go out and do what you love, show up each and every day, and push through the challenges. Congratulations to you and your families on this very special day.
(1) Brian Tracy