What Graduation Speakers Don’t Tell You

A reporter asked me what advice I wanted to leave my students, and I thought about a speech I gave to the 2010 graduates of Canyon High School.

Based on the biblical story of Joseph, I titled it “What Graduation Speakers Don’t Tell You.” You can read the whole thing here, or I’ll give you the quickie version below. As my students strive for their academic and life dreams, here’s what I want them to remember.

#1. Expect rejection—be persistent.
If you go on to a four-year university, you may not be accepted at the first to which you apply—or the second, or third. You probably won’t be selected by the first company where you interview for a job. If you start your own business, you’ll find much more initial failure than success. In the real world, you will receive many more “no’s” than “yes’s.” Many more.

So don’t give up. Keep on dreaming and keep on keeping on.

#2. Expect delays—be patient.
You can count on it. Everything (and I mean everything) will take longer than you think. So be patient—enjoy the in-between because most of life (even after college) consists of in-betweens. Life’s race goes not to the swift, but to the resilient. Keep believing in and working on your dreams even (especially) when it seems they will never materialize.

#3. Expect the unexpected—be flexible.
Did you know that ten of the top jobs in demand today didn’t even exist six years ago? If the trend holds, this will be the first generation ever to prepare for jobs that don’t yet have a name.

How does one prepare for the unexpected? I’ll tell you how Joseph did it. He learned from his experiences—we educators call it lifelong learning—and he became good at handling change. So—when the ruler of the land needed a man to handle the greatest unexpected event in his lifetime, guess whom he chose?

So here’s my advice for students. Dream big. But, as you do, remember to expect rejection, and delays, and be ready for the unexpected. And when you do, like Joseph, you’ll see those dreams come true.

I want to hear from you when that happens.

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