A Twenty Dollar Bill and A Blank Slate
There is no Success Without Sacrifice
Although I was forbidden by my kids from making any speeches during their graduation celebrations, Dr. Val had a different idea.
I had the honor of teaching Leadership Development to the seniors. I delivered their final lecture Friday during their graduation ceremony.
Eighteen years ago, my youngest son arrived and the adventure began. It is easy to keep one child happy. It is impossible to keep two children with competing interests happy. Thus the need to establish a few rules.
In their first decade of life, no fighting. No biting. No kicking. No screaming. No name calling. You will never get in trouble for throwing the second punch.
In their second decade of life, rules from the first decade still apply. But add: no drugs. No alcohol. No smoking. No sex. No tattoos. No body piercing. GPA 3.5 or higher. Get your Eagle Scout. And if it looks like that and acts like that don’t bring it home.
As they approach their third decade of life, my rules become advice because as of Jan. 3 (Austin’s 18th birthday) I was officially relieved of duty. Their life is their own and they are responsible for it.
However, I have a few suggestions…
Rules from first two decades of life are still the foundation for a successful life. But add:
Not everyone deserves a trophy — only the best should be rewarded. If you want to be the best, you have to pay the price. The price is sweat and hard work. It is learning from your mistakes. It is being accountable and not making excuses. It is working harder, longer, and smarter than the rest of the pack. The price is showing up, on time, ready to work, with everything you need to do the job and you don’t stop until it is done. And if you make a mistake, you thank the person who brought it to your attention and promise that it will never happen again and you make sure it doesn’t.
There is simply no success without sacrifice. Succeed anyway, not because of what the world gives to you in honor, praise, or gold, but because of who you become in the process.
You see, your mom and dad being upset with you is no longer your concern. Life has consequences. Those consequences will kick your butt.
So don’t do stupid things at stupid times in stupid places with stupid people, not even in the name of fun.
Have fun! Be safe! And if you have to choose, choose to be safe.
I have two gifts for each of the graduates today. The first gift is a 20 bill because I need you to remember it doesn’t matter what you have done and or what life has handed you….your value as a human being does not diminish. If I crumble a twenty dollar bill, it is still worth twenty dollars. If I run over it with a car, it is still worth twenty dollar. If I throw it on the ground and stomp on it, it is still worth twenty dollars. And so it is with humans. Your value does not change because of what happens to you.
I am also giving you a blank slate to begin to write the remainder of your life story on. The past has become your lessons learned. Its only value was to prepare you for what is to come. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Make sure your story ends with “and you lived happily ever after.” And whatever you do, don’t give the pen to someone else. It is your story, and yours alone, to write.