Graduation season has officially come to a close and with it, a plethora of heart-warming and inspirational speeches have been logged. The perfect speech in this occasion contains a mixture of comedic-relief, relatability, reflection, and actionable takeaways, but not all are created equal.
Graduate or not, these were the most impressionable takeaways.
Always be truthful. Especially when no one is looking.
Oprah Winfrey came in strong during her speech at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.
"The truth exonerates, and it convicts. It disinfects, and it galvanizes [...] And not only are you here to tell it, to write it, to proclaim it, to speak it, but to be it. Be the truth."
This saying couldn't have come at a better time, especially with the #MeToo movement and in a time when publicity crises have companies wishing they had been paying more attention. As a business owner, always lead your company with the possibility of your actions landing on the front page of a newspaper or trending on Google. What would, or wouldn't, you want that headline to say?
Why not you?
Actress Mindy Kaling gave a hilarious and impressionable speech to Darmouth College this year, her alma mater.
"Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far."
Social media is usually the perpetrator of moments like this, in which we feel that we are not deserving or good enough. We make ourselves believe that we do not have what it takes to go after that job, start that business, or follow that dream. Now that is a bunch of lies. It doesn't matter if you just graduated or you are deep into your career. Never talk yourself out of exploring that itch to do something more.
Be fearless, even if it's scary.
Duke University was graced by Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.
"Fearlessness is taking the first step, even if you don't know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd."
I don't know how many times I have let fear stand in the way of something I wanted. Thousands, perhaps. But, I have remembered those moments so clearly that I have vowed to never let them happen again because in retrospect, the outcome would never have been detrimental. You have to go head first into whatever it is you're doing because if you hesitate, you will lose your step. Trust yourself and trust the process.
Do the unexpected.
This was one of the most touching speeches of the whole bunch this year. Sef Scott is a student with autism and social communication disorder at Plano Senior High School. He spent most of his days at school keeping to himself, mostly because he couldn't communicate like everyone else around him. At graduation, he volunteered to speak and wowed the audience with the lessons he's learned despite his obstacle-filled journey.
"Don't follow someone else's dreams. Don't waste time on something you never wanted. Do the unexpected! [...] Remember, if you are following in someone else's footsteps you will only get where they want to go."
Ah, such a strong statement. It makes you want to be a rebel, to rev up your engines, and catch them when they're not looking. The thing is, the unexpected is actually something that has always been expected -- but in your own heart. You've always known what this thing is, you just haven't shared it. Now is a better time than ever do that thing you've been holding back.
Be a wolf.
No, not a bad wolf. Just a go-getting wolf. Abby Wambach, a former professional soccer player, stopped by Barnard College to share her two cents. She tells a story about being a young girl and being taught to be grateful, humble, and hard-working, just like Little Red Riding Hood. Yes, all good qualities to a human being, but she was taught that if she was too curious, she would get in trouble and the Big Bad Wolf would come after her. Her metaphor ended like this:
"I stayed on the path out of fear, not of being eaten by a wolf, but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck. If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing it would be this: "Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood; you were always the wolf."
Oftentimes we are too scared to cause any commotion -- ask for a raise, ask for a promotion, or ask for anything. In reality, we have to ask or else we will never find out. Make today the day that you stand up for yourself and be that go-getting wolf that you were meant to be.