Even though they are spoken directly to graduates, I love the motivational and inspirational graduation speeches. I certainly felt inspired Saturday night as I listened to actor and producer Darryl Bell, of A Different World fame, address the graduates at my alma mater–which is also my employer. 😀
Bell delivered a succinct, timely, and power-packed list speech that resonated with me and reminded me of some basic principles for navigating life. Here are his tips and what I remember of his commentary on each one.
- Use the gifts that call you. Choose a vocation because of your compulsion toward it, your passion, not simply because you’re competent in an area. Your being good at what you do but hating it leads to a miserable life. Pay attention to the thing that keeps calling you, the thing you can’t help but do. “Your gifts have been calling you. Answer them.”
- Remember the four-year-old. Four-year-olds are confident that they can do anything. A few years later, kids begin to learn their strengths and their limits, and begin to doubt themselves. Be like four-year-olds and do not put limits on what is possible. Use all of your abilities and gifts, empowered by your education, to solve the world’s problems.
- See the world. Travel beyond your state, beyond your country. Experience other places and cultures. Those interactions will open you up to other ways of seeing and being. If you only know America, you can’t be competitive in a global economy. Travel changes your perspective on life and everything you do.
- Pick somebody else. Sometimes you won’t hear extraordinary advice given because you hear the same voice so often that you automatically tune it out. Pick someone else. Always ask another person; get another opinion. It affirms and confirms. Sometimes you have to hear [the extraordinary advice] from someone else.
- Ask for help. No one accomplishes anything without the help of others. Life is worse than hard. You’ll have times when you’ll face bone-crushing, soul-crushing defeat, where you’ll feel like “it” isn’t even possible. Interestingly, when you are going through these moments, when you most need help, contrary to what is logical and instinctive, you are least likely to ask for help. You must fight through your vulnerability and through your shame and ask for help. You’ll be surprised by the people who exceed your expectations in providing what you need to turn the situation around. Be prepared to ask for help.
- Be kind. Kindness goes a long way and is long remembered.
- Embrace the fear. You experience fear when you try to accomplish something big and you are afraid to fail. “Everything that I accomplished that was worth something scared me and I learned to run toward it, to embrace it.” Fear tells you this is something worth doing. Embrace it! Run toward it! Grab it! Now, go change the world!
Bell punctuated his list with (mostly) entertaining anecdotes from his life that kept us all riveted. He offered keys for a productive and fulfilling life. There are other keys, of course, but I think the graduates found the most important one in the school’s motto–“God first!”
But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. –Matthew 6:33 AMP
Until next time…
[Note: Photo from Pixabay.com]