Messages from Commencement – Pursue your Passion!

Commencement ceremonies are occurring in high schools, colleges, and universities across the country. For graduates, it is a time of anxiety, relief, hope, and choices. A key component of each ceremony is the keynote address by an honored guest whose job it is to capture the magnitude of the moment. They are also asked to provide some insight or pearls of wisdom that can aid you in the journey you are about to embark on with your newly acquired knowledge.

Many commencement speakers focus on the importance of discovering your passion and pursuing it relentlessly. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, stated “I hope you find yourself on one path but longing for something else, you’ll find a way to get there. And if that isn’t right, try again. Try until you find something that stirs your passion, a job that matters to you and matters to others. It’s a luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a clear path to happiness.”

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, acknowledges the role that failure will play in your future “You might never fail on the scale I did. But some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

Others like Larry Page, founder of Google, express the value of dreaming big. “I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. There are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name. They all travel as if they are pack dogs and stick to each other like glue. The best people want to work the big challenges.”

Apple founder Steve Jobs spoke of the value of following your own wants and desires in his address. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it in living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Success in life is a journey not a destination. Each of these commencement speakers has faced obstacles, failures, and immense challenges throughout their lives. They each communicate the value of discovering their passion because that propelled them to overcome each of these challenges and achieve their goals. Commencement is a time to reflect on your accomplishments and begin your next journey. Pursue a career and goals you are passionate about, and the best is yet to come!


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