This month I join thousands of fellow proud parents in celebrating the accomplishments of our children as they become the graduating class of 2019. While I relish the fact that my daughter has done much, I marvel at the journey that she is about to embark on. The opportunities are endless, and in her lifetime, she will probably get to see miracles from technologies such as biomimicry, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, neuroscience, and many others. Artifacts from the old cartoon “The Jetsons,” such as self-driving, flying vehicles and personal robots, will be commonplace. And technology will be even more integrated into daily life than it is today. But, even in this wondrous world, the keys to success and happiness will surely remain the same as they are today. With this in mind, please indulge me as I offer some parental advice to my daughter and her peers as they begin this journey…
Be passionate about what you do. If you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, spend time this summer exploring. Life is rewarding not only when you care about what you do, but when you can see the actual impact of your efforts. In fact, I might suggest that there are no better rewards. So find the things you really care about and find ways to make an impact in your community and the world. Passionate people can change the world, and they also tend to be happier. It will be difficult at times, but therein lies the potential for your sense of accomplishment. Of course, you also need to make a living, so make sure to weave that into your plans, while always keeping an eye on the end goal.
Don’t be afraid to fail. You must fail to succeed. While I know that many of you have been told to get good grades in school, a more important life lesson is to not be afraid to fail. Be willing to try different things, as it’s OK to fail IF you learn something. It could even be just how to deal with failure. Or to consider a different path. Either way, be honest with yourself about what you’ve learned. The lesson is not for anyone else except for you, so don’t fool yourself. It is in fact hard to be successful if you have not first experienced failure.
Find true friends that support and uplift you. In today’s culture, we have many, many friends. There are Facebook friends, Instagram friends, Snapchat friends, etc. We have our friends we hang out with, friends we play sports with, and many friends from school. And then you have those pretend friends who secretly hope you’ll fail, along with those who are successful and genuinely wish to see you succeed. Seek out those friends. Because you will fail in order to succeed — perhaps even quite often. As such, you will need true friends who will be able to stand by you, lift you up when you’re down, motivate you, and help you be successful. The rest of them, your “so-called friends,” won’t be there when you’re down, and ultimately will not prove much more than a distraction.
Find the time to give back. I have learned that life is about creating purpose, creating meaning. Let this be a source of inspiration for you. How do you find meaning? Well, above all else, meaning is derived from what you give, not what you get. And what better way to give than to give to your loved ones, to your community, and even to the world? Not sure how to do that? For starters, check out the various community service organizations around our town (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc.) and go from there.
Ok, that’s it for now. Congratulations! Enjoy the moment and get ready for the journey ahead. I hope that you live an impassioned and inspired life!