When I was asked to write a column for the Carroll News I was immediately flattered and terrified! I didn’t know what to write about, but then it hit me. I have been coordinating the commencement ceremony at JCU for the past sixteen years, I thought it would be great to write a “commencement speaker” column. What would I say to you as a graduating class? Well, I came up with a “magnificent seven” pieces of advice I can give you. As it turns out, this is the same advice I keep giving my daughters as they grow up!
First, be nice and be polite. Never underestimate the power of “please” and “thank you.” To me, it shows you care. Share some cookies, offer your seat to someone older than you, ask to bring some food or drink to a party you are invited to, listen to someone (even if you believe they are going on and on), get to know your neighbors. These things are easy-breezy – they go a long way, and they do not go unnoticed.
Second, help someone every day. I am not just talking about people you know. Hold a door, carry something heavy for someone, tutor a coworker on a computer program you know well, if you notice someone doing without give them what you can. Yes, your 24 hours per day is short and you don’t have much time, but it doesn’t take much time to make a difference for someone else.
Third, try something new. My oldest tried sushi the other day. She didn’t like it, but at least she tried it. Hopefully, during your time at JCU, you have tried something new. For some of you, it was a class in a topic outside your wheelhouse. Maybe it was a service trip. Take this attitude with you into your professional life – volunteer to help on a project; you might find you enjoyed it.
Fourth, read. Read anything – a book, a newspaper, a magazine. I tell my girls what I learned as a kid – reading is fundamental. But don’t just keep all you have learned to yourself — forward the on-line article, recommend the book, pass along a magazine. I do this as often as I can with friends, family, and coworkers.
Fifth, write. As a teenager I kept a diary. Each night I would write something. Sometimes it was important teenage angst, sometimes it was just a weather report. Even if I wasn’t the best writer, writing made me think. It made me question and reflect. I started keeping a journal about a year ago. Though the things I write about are more mature, they still make me question and think.
Sixth, enjoy some quiet time. Take a walk, without music blaring in your ears. Sit and read. Meditate. Take some time each day, turn off your electronics, and enjoy the sound of silence, or the chirping of birds, or the breeze through the trees. There is therapy in quieting yourself and your surroundings. You won’t regret it.
Seventh, love. Always love, and never pass up a moment to tell someone you love them. Tell your family how much they mean to you. Tell your friends you are glad to have them in your life. Tell your teachers you valued their guidance. Tell your spouse and kids you love them, every day.
There are probably a lot of other helpful hints I could include in this article, like don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, and always have a band-aid somewhere within reach, but those are lessons you will learn for yourself along the way. Enjoy your life and the people you are with. Never pass up a moment to do something good. Who knows, it might turn into something great.