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My Graduation Speech

Dr. Foster Mobley // Education, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Tis the season for high school and college commencement speeches, which means it's time for millions of graduating seniors to roll their eyes in boredom. Who can blame them? The typical graduation speaker is somebody the students have never heard of. He or she delivers predictable lines about "being the future" and "believing in your dreams" to people who only want to get out of their hot caps and gowns and go party. I get it. But one of these days, I'm hoping I'll be honored with a request to deliver a commencement address-perhaps even to my alma mater, UCLA. If I am, I won't talk about dreams and careers and the future. I won't bury my audience in boring clichés. I'll talk about wisdom, and these are some of the points I'll make: • Listen twice as much as you talk. People want to tell their story. • Accept that achieving the life you really want will be ten times harder than you can possibly imagine today. • Go after that life anyway. • Tools change. People don't. Integrity and character still move mountains. • You're entitled to air, space, and freedom of speech. That's all. • Don't worry about being famous. Strive to be respected. • Slow down, wait, and listen. There are wonders to be found in silence. • Be present. Don't tweet about the past or text about the future. • Regardless of their politics, 99.9% of people want the same things you do: love, family, health, purpose, peace and prosperity. What would you say to a graduating class?

Tis the season for high school and college commencement speeches, which means it's time for millions of graduating seniors to roll their eyes in boredom. Who can blame them? The typical graduation speaker is somebody the students have never heard of. He or she delivers predictable lines about "being the future" and "believing in your dreams" to people who only want to get out of their hot caps and gowns and go party. I get it.

But one of these days, I'm hoping I'll be honored with a request to deliver a commencement address-perhaps even to my alma mater, UCLA. If I am, I won't talk about dreams and careers and the future. I won't bury my audience in boring clichés. I'll talk about wisdom, and these are some of the points I'll make:

  • Listen twice as much as you talk. People want to tell their story.
  • Accept that achieving the life you really want will be ten times harder than you can possibly imagine today.
  • Go after that life anyway.
  • Tools change. People don't. Integrity and character still move mountains.
  • You're entitled to air, space, and freedom of speech. That's all.
  • Don't worry about being famous. Strive to be respected.
  • Slow down, wait, and listen. There are wonders to be found in silence.
  • Be present. Don't tweet about the past or text about the future.
  • Regardless of their politics, 99.9% of people want the same things you do: love, family, health, purpose, peace and prosperity.

What would you say to a graduating class?

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams