Out with the old, in with the new. April showers bring May flowers. Nothing remains constant except change itself. Enough clichés for one opener? Spring is such an interesting time. Hope springs eternal (sorry… couldn’t resist). For approximately 3.6M young adults this year, this Spring represents a spring board; one where the potential energy built up over four years of high school will convert to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy that will be used to start their lives as productive citizens in the 21st century global economy. Some will join the millions (approximately 20M) of students attending American colleges and universities (inclusive of 2-year; 4-year; and graduate levels); some will learn a trade; others will take an entirely different pathway like starting their own small business. Regardless, these are the next generation of innovators, thought leaders, and world shapers; the next Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos that will disrupt, innovate, and advance the world forward.
Equally important as the rare few visionaries, these are next generation of citizens that will demand equality, fight for better health, improve economic conditions, and seek peace across the globe. That journey begins ‘now’. It starts with the vision – whether that is personal or collective. To achieve that vision, those at the starting line of their lives ahead should consider mapping out an action plan – what do I wish to achieve in the next year, three, five, ten… what does my successful life look like? What do I wish to leave as my legacy? Most importantly, how am I embracing those things I’m truly passionate about and translating them into a lifetime of success and happiness.
I’ve been fortunate in my life both personally and professionally. I have a wonderful family. I have a career that is a platform to help students find direction. I have a perspective that the world is truly a better place than it was last month, year, decade, century (more to follow on this in a future post). Usually I try to use this forum to educate and I steer clear of focusing on Envision’s core business - helping students turn their career and life aspirations into reality. But given the nature of the post, I think it’s important to mix education with business here. As our latest class of seniors turn into the next class of alumni (whether at the high school or post-secondary level) over the next month, we need to take the time to both congratulate them and also to guide, coach, and mentor them. Help them find direction. Assist them in defining their guiding goal(s). Nudge them on a path that will translate their life aspiration (and passion) into reality. This is what we do daily at Envision – building immersion programming for elementary, middle, high school, and college students seeking enlightenment as they navigate their career pathway. We’re on the cusp of helping another 25,000 students this summer and are honored/humbled to play a role in shaping their lives in some way.
In honor of our graduating class of 2018 and those soon to be Envision program alumni, here’s my brief commencement speech acknowledging their achievement:
To the soon to be alumni of 2018: The Future is Now. You’ve studied, experienced, and prepared for future things to come. That time is now. You are ready. You are capable. Are you willing? Willing to take that next step forward? To embrace the challenge of taking the torch from those that came before you and moving it incrementally forward down the path toward a better world. Now more than any time in history, you control your own destiny. You can make your own decisions. You can truly influence your pathway. You can translate your passion into a fruitful and rewarding career. Steve Jobs once said during a commencement speech (Stanford University 2005): “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Very fitting advice given your position at the starting line of the marathon that is career navigation and life. As you race, remember this: you’ll crawl, you’ll walk, you’ll run, you’ll fall but you will not fail. You will not fail if you keep your eyes on your guiding bullseye and don’t stray far from your passion. As you reflect on where you’ve been and determine where you’re going, don’t let the unknowns generate anxiety – anxiety that often clouds an ability to see a clear pathway toward your goals. Rather determine how you can build a personal decision making model that compares options against your driving passion. Using your passion as a litmus test will give you permission to look past the noise that often gets in the way of progress toward personal happiness and success. At the risk of sounding repetitive and long-winded, I’ll offer only one more piece of advice: as you define your vision and pathway, and compare against your passion, don’t lose sight of the fact that life is far more enjoyable when it’s fun. Fun could be an anonym for: Fail Until Now. Why you ask? Fun is simply a frame of mind; as is failure. So why not make the choice to look beyond the negative now and turn the opportunity into something far more enjoyable. In closing, I want to congratulate our new alumni and wish them an amazing journey as they seek to shape their lives and the world around them. Good luck and Godspeed.