COMMENTARY 987.5: The One-Minute Graduation Speech

I’ve given lots of commencement addresses and, despite the silly hat, it’s a head-swelling experience to tell a captive crowd how they should live their lives. The problem is, speakers are to graduations what turkeys are to Thanksgiving, except people are much more interested in a turkey on a platter than a turkey behind a podium. What we need is a good one-minute graduation speech. Here’s my platitude-stuffed effort:

“OK, folks, you got your degrees. It’s a good time to set goals and devise a plan. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. You need a road map, but be prepared for unintended detours, confusing signs and closed roads. Don’t be afraid of change or unwilling to change. Enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you, because that’s your life.

“Chances are, success and happiness are among your goals. But be careful, they’re not the same — all successful people aren’t happy and all happy people aren’t successful. If you have to choose, choose happiness.

“Take control of your life by taking control of your attitudes. Pain and disappointment are inevitable, but suffering is optional and tough times are always temporary.

“Live within your means, and when you mess up, fess up. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

“Listen to both your heart and your head. Pursue your passions, but don’t confuse feelings with facts, fun with happiness or pleasure with fulfillment.

“Don’t sacrifice a thousand tomorrows for a few todays, and don’t settle for a little life. Live with purpose and for significance. Respect yourself and others, avoid self-righteousness and be kind rather than right.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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