You Won’t Remember Your Graduation Speech But You’ll Remember 3 Key Takeaways

I always look forward to graduation season.  I enjoy inspiration experiences, stories and quotes and there’s never a shortage when spring rolls around.  Each graduation and commencement ceremony is filled with nuggets for graduates to add to their toolkit as they “commence” their new endeavors and journey.

This graduation season is particularly special. Not only do I get to enjoy the takeaways as an onlooker, but I got to sit with my fellow graduates from the class of 2016 and take in the speakers’ advice.  It is an amazing feeling with a mix of accomplishment, pride, excitement for “free” time again and readiness for next steps.

Each graduate has their own story.  And mine wasn’t perfect. Although I had a lofty goal, I didn’t have a tight plan that laid out exactly how I would manage school while working full-time with my clients and traveling each week. But the pieces came together with time (I will elaborate on how I did it in an upcoming post).

Here I am having done it! Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Technology & Innovation Management, jointly delivered by Temple University’s Fox School of Business and College of Engineering.

Thanks to my support team – family, friends, mentors, colleagues. I couldn’t have done it without them.

As I sat through my ceremonies, I took notes of the inspirational words from our speakers. I wanted to capture what moved me in real-time and share these takeaways with others.

Here are the notes I captured:

Grad takeaways 1  Grad takeaways 2

Of all this great advice, there were a few that struck a cord and I want to elaborate on what they mean to me.

Here are my 3 favorite takeaways:

Success is never final and failure is never fatal.

When you reach a goal, you don’t stop.  When you don’t reach a goal, you don’t stop.  Our work is never complete.  No matter what happens, we have to keep moving forward.  No matter what life brings our way – whether it is ups or downs – we have to stay the course.  We have to remind ourselves that with each morning, we have an opportunity to start anew. We have a chance to do things better and try new approaches. This gives us new opportunities to redefine success as we go along.

Take more risk. Reflect more. Leave a legacy.

This is based on a study by Sociologist Tony Campolo where he asked 50 people over the age of 95 what they would do differently if they had to live life over again. These were the three responses that dominated – take more risk, reflect more, leave a legacy. Understandably people shy away from risk, but with risk comes more opportunities to create change and innovate.  By venturing into uncharted territory, we increase our chances of making an impact and although the ride may get bumpy, it will certainly be adventurous. With so much going on, it is easy to not take time for ourselves and reflect – to reflect on life and what we have to be grateful for.  I think this is important for our self-awareness, mindfulness and for being centered.  We won’t be here forever but what an honor it would be to leave something behind that is helpful to and benefits others. We can all be more conscious about what we can do today that will have a lasting impact.

As a leader, you may be the only Bible someone reads that day.

Being a leader comes with great responsibility.  Most of the conversation around leadership focuses on the leader and how she should lead.  But rarely do we focus on those being led and the impact someone’s leadership has on them. A leader has the ability to influence those around them and one big difference is in if they’re creating followers or the next generation of leaders.  There’s a lasting difference between each and it is worth the time for each leader to reflect on what their position means to others.

I’m looking forward to other graduations this season and soaking up the inspirational words from the speakers.

As I reflect on my own journey and the accomplishment of my fellow graduates, here is my personal takeaway:

When you want to do or pursue something that has intrinsic value and meaning to you, do it.

When you want to do or pursue something that has intrinsic value and meaning to you, do it. Ask God for guidance. Challenge the universe to work with you to make it all happen. Line up your support team. Get up every morning and do your part. Be grateful and give thanks every night before you go to bed for getting through another day. Charge toward the finish line. Then celebrate …because putting in all this work non-stop is exhausting!

Congrats to my fellow 2016 graduates!  I would love to hear about your journey and the advice from your graduation speeches that moved you the most.

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