Commencement season: Advice is in the air!

I love spring.  It’s full of graduation, silly gowns, and serious advice.

I’ve spent the last three years combing the web for precise directions on becoming a happy and productive adult human being.  Emphasis on happy and adult.  For obvious reasons, happiness is second nature for kids.  For adults, it may take some work.  I wanted a guidebook that wasn’t full of fluff or cliches.  One that had pictures and step-by-step instructions.

I’m still compiling that guidebook, and you can bet your ass these guys are in it:

Stephen Colbert on charting our own paths (in real talk):

skip to 12:30 for the advice

President Obama on the importance of hard work (its up to us) and families:

“It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

You now hail from a lineage and legacy of immeasurably strong men – men who bore tremendous burdens and still laid the stones for the path on which we now walk. You wear the mantle of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, Ralph Bunche and Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver and Ralph Abernathy, Thurgood Marshall and yes, Dr. King. These men were many things to many people. They knew full well the role that racism played in their lives. But when it came to their own accomplishments and sense of purpose, they had no time for excuses.

I was raised by a heroic single mother and wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me. And I know there are moms and grandparents here today who did the same thing for all of you. But I still wish I had a father who was not only present, but involved. And so my whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me. I’ve tried to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.

“It’s hard work that demands your constant attention, and frequent sacrifice. And Michelle will be the first to tell you that I’m not perfect. Even now, I’m still learning how to be the best husband and father I can be. Because success in everything else is unfulfilling if we fail at family. I know that when I’m on my deathbed someday, I won’t be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won’t be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received. I’ll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters. A lazy afternoon with my wife. Whether I did right by all of them.

Be a good role model and set a good example for that young brother coming up.  We have to teach them what it means to be a man – to serve your city like Maynard Jackson; to shape the culture like Spike Lee. Chester Davenport was one of the first people to integrate the University of Georgia law school. When he got there, no one would sit next to him in class. But Chester didn’t mind. Later on, he said, ‘It was the thing for me to do. Someone needed to be the first.’ Today, Chester is here celebrating his 50th reunion. If you’ve had role models, fathers, brothers like that – thank them today. If you haven’t, commit yourself to being that man for someone else.”

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One thought on “Commencement season: Advice is in the air!

  1. I’m a sucker for a good commencement speech. Many of us, myself included, are searching for “precise directions on becoming a happy and productive adult human being.” Babies have the happiness part down, but they’re not that productive. Adults know how to be productive (whether they choose to be or not is a different story), but they’re not that happy. We need the happy medium of the two! It even has the word happy in it 🙂

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