Sunday, 30th April 2017


Graduation Speeches: Not boring at all (Part 1)

by Maria Carmela De los Reyes


19 Mar 2013 Print This Post Print This Post

    As soon as we flip our calendars from February to March, the first thing that comes to mind is Graduation Season. As one of the most-awaited events of the year, it signals the end of school and the fruit of a student’s years of hard work and persistence.

    It is an exciting time, yet, in every graduation ceremony many of us want to skip the commencement speeches because we think these are too dull. Surprisingly, not all speeches are boring. In fact, there are some worth hearing no matter how long they go. Here’s a list of the best graduation speeches ever delivered:

    Steve Jobs, Stanford (2005)
    Who would have thought that the man behind Apple was given up by his parents for adoption? Was a drop-out at school because all of his parents’ savings were spent on his tuition? And was even fired from the very company he started?

    In his speech at Stanford, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs decided to talk about three things: connecting the dots, love and loss, and death. He shared his story from his birth up to the moment he almost faced death (when he found out about his cancer). And as Jobs told more about himself we not only knew him better, we learned to know our selves.

    “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something-your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

    Jobs says you should not stop at just finding what you love to do. Instead, you have to do something about it no matter how uncertain the outcome. It may sound impossible to achieve but as long as you love what you do and trust yourself, you will succeed. You will never know if you can until you try.

    “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

    You have to live life like you’re dying. That way you will never be afraid of what others may think of you and you will never be afraid to fail. You will no longer think of losing your pride, and will just live your life to the fullest.

    J.K. Rowling, Harvard (2008)
    Behind the story of the Harry Potter series is a single mom, who was once jobless and very poor. And just like how she created magic in her book, she did magic in her life.

    Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling talked about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination in her speech at Harvard. Although most of her speech was about her story, she related her experiences to the graduates and what they can expect in the future.

    “So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

    Rowling reminds us that life should not be confined to being a scholar or to graduate with honors. There is more to life than taking home medals and trophies – and that is knowing that personal happiness can never be bought by a stack of achievements.

    “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.”

    Rowling asserts that you cannot keep away from failure, because no matter how good you are at something there will always be a chance that you will fail. You should never be afraid of failing as it will shed light to finding your way to success.

    Oprah Winfrey, Stanford (2008)
    Who doesn’t know Oprah? One of the most influential women in the world and “The Queen of All Media” who, when she started in the business, met people that didn’t find her name marketable. How did she become successful even though she kept the name? Her secret – finding her own happiness and becoming more of herself.

    Talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey speaks about becoming more of yourself and failure. If you become true to yourself, you will not fool yourself into loving what you do if you are not. You will not imitate others just to become famous and good at something. By being yourself, you will find happiness. If you are happy with what you do, you will do well at it.

    “And that is really what we’re all trying to do, become more of ourselves. And I believe that there’s a lesson in almost everything that you do and every experience, and getting the lesson is how you move forward. It’s how you enrich your spirit. And, trust me, I know that inner wisdom is more precious than wealth. The more you spend it, the more you gain.”

    Winfrey also says that in every failure you face, there is a lesson to be learned in the end. And that lesson will strengthen you to move forward in life.

    (To be continued)


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