As the post-secondary school year winds down here in Canada, this post is dedicated to grads, past and present.
Here are five qualities to live by, and some life lessons from a few inspiring personalities. (Also, watch Ellen Degeneres' commencement speech at Tulane - you will enjoy every minute!):
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. - Steve Jobs
Feelings are really your GPS system for life. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door, and start checking your gut instead. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. When you don’t know what to do, get still, very still, until you do know what to do.
– Oprah (Stanford Address, 2008)
To me, this is about not following the herd. It is about learning to tune in to what it is that your inner self or voice tells you to do. It takes time to develop this and more importantly, courage to step away from the pack (and sometimes, this includes your closest friends, parents or partners!)
2) Curiosity (over "passion")
You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.
- Steve Jobs (Stanford Address, 2005)
This is one of my favourite quotes and one that has helped me take a leap of faith now and then. I think we put too much emphasis on passion nowadays, which can be dangerous. Why? Because you may not have a clear vision of what you are passionate about, and passions can change over time.
The advice to follow your curiosity and your interests is less daunting and more practical. Also, your interests can contribute to a larger passion later on. Steve Jobs’ story of how his random interest in calligraphy classes later led to beautiful fonts on the Mac is a perfect example of following his instincts, and not overthinking it!
3) Vulnerability (aka Courage)
I love this quote that starts off the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown (from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910):
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
It’s obviously easier to be the critic, but to be the woman or man in the arena is what really counts. Brene Brown talks a lot about courage as vulnerability; that real vulnerability – going ALL IN despite the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure - is what allows us to be creative, to reach our potential, to understand the importance of victory and defeat.
4) Your “woes”
Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who are further along the path than you are, who push you to be better! This also implies you need to be careful about who you let in to that circle. Your energy is limited, so be wise about who you share and exchange it with.
The “pay it forward” rule applies here too. Being able to provide mentorship and support to people who are seeking it is one of the best feelings and opportunities for development.
5) The Journey
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
- John Lennon
We spend years chasing after the next best thing, and tend to enjoy memories more than we experience the actual moment. But really, the moments are what all add up in the end, so being less distracted and really spending your time being present with your work, family, friends, and in love really does change your life.
This also relates to dealing with failure. Another gem of an Oprah quote:
Failure is just life’s way of telling you you need to change course. When that moment comes, it’s okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. But then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.
Failure feels crappy. Not getting into the grad school you wanted, or the dream job. Losing the competition. Failed relationships. But you really do become stronger after you survive failure, and I agree with Oprah – sometimes we just need to re-orient ourselves, be flexible with our plans. And back to connecting the dots.. have faith that it all will make sense in hindsight!
Congrats to the class of 2015!! Thank you for your contributions so far; so excited to see your journeys continue!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!