This past month brought lots of graduations, and speeches with well- meaning advice. I read some of the speeches, hoping to capture new magic.
For the most part, the speakers offered boilerplate messages: You are ready. You can make a difference. Today is a new day. Some gave formulas for success.
The speech that caught my attention was by Ruby Bridges, herself a part of history. She spoke at Tulane University, and her unique message included these words: Opportunity comes packaged in many boxes, and it shows up with no return address. The sender is history, and she does not accept returns. Once the package is opened, you accept the gift, and embrace the demands attached to it.
Ms. Bridges message challenges us to examine what is in the box, ask ourselves how we can use, improve, or share the contents, makes us wonder why we were the ones to receive this box. And, it makes us ask If we can trust history - the sender of the box.
After reading the speeches I asked myself -- if you were invited to be a graduation speaker - what would YOU say? Searching my memory bank for people whose words had left an impact, Dr. Charles Bott, my decades-ago headmaster, came to mind.
Dr. Bott did not promise or predict anything. He talked about Trust. His closing words were: At the end of a conversation, a speech, or a promise … we will always ask ourselves ‘Do I trust this person?
If offered the opportunity, I would say to our graduates … “Give people a reason to trust you.”
What would you say?
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