Of course, the inspiring speaker that your high school or college recruited is going to have some wisdom to impart to you. But just in case the hot sun that is beating down on your mortarboard distracts you from listening too closely, here’s a summary of what you’ll probably be hearing . . .
- It’s good to fail. This is a pretty standard theme in commencement speeches these days. The idea is that in the future, you are only going to learn through repeated failure. The important thing is to pick yourself up, learn, and keep moving forward. Chances are that your commencement speaker will offer some stories about times when he or she failed, but gained wisdom from the experience. You might want to listen to those.
- Your excellent education didn’t really prepare you for what you are about to do. This kind of begs the question, why did you just go to college or high school and study all that stuff, when you won’t really need it? But the point is a good one – chances are that your education only laid a general foundation for your future success, not a roadmap.
- Expect the unexpected. Another common theme, especially among grad speakers who graduated from school in the days when the Internet didn’t exist. The idea is that in our technological age, it is impossible to predict everything that is going to happen in the next decade. So instead of making precise plans about what you want to do with your life, it is smarter to set general objectives and adjust when new things happen.
- It is now up to you to correct everything that your parents’ generation got wrong. This is common among grad speakers who are now ready to “pass the baton” to the next generation. It’s a bit of a cop-out, actually, since any graduation speaker who has earned his or her credibility ought to be someone who is still in the game, slugging to make it a better world. But it’s kind of a nice theme, if you don’t take it too seriously.
Other Themes . . .
Your commencement speaker will probably tell you to thank your family for supporting you (you should), to remember the best teachers you had (again, you should), and to remain connected to your school and come back to visit (ditto).
To those themes, we’d like to add one more. If all the stuff you studied in high school or college hasn’t prepared you for the next stage of your life, you can shore up any weak areas by taking online courses this summer. That might not be an inspiring insight, but it’s a good idea anyway.
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