I am a sucker for a good graduation speech. 

I’m loving Abby Wambach’s speech at Barnard College. (Listen here: https://es.pn/2J7Aiou). 

I’m also loving what Jason Reynolds had to say at Lesley University.  (Listen here:  https://bit.ly/2kIcvBe)

My daughter graduated from 8th grade a few weeks ago and as I sat and listened to her classmates speak, I couldn’t help but be inspired by them too.  As I listened (when I wasn't trying to figure out where all the time went and how it was even possible that my daughter would be a freshman in high school next year), I kept hearing things that made me think that everything being said was a great reminder for every grown-up in the room.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever changed how you normally show up just to try and fit in.  Have you ever told a little white lie just to seem like everyone else in the group?  What about pretending like you had that same experience when you’ve actually never had that experience?  As one 8th grader said in her speech, “Future middle schoolers, I say be yourself and don’t try to fit in like everyone will pressure you to do. You may not realize it at the time, but you will look back and think, why did I really care so much over something so stupid?” 

Some other gems from the 8th grade speakers...

“Take action. Every story you've ever connected with, every leader you've ever admired, every puny little thing that you've ever accomplished is the result of taking action.”  As we get older, as we get further into our careers, we run the risk of becoming complacent.  We don’t want to rock the boat.  We think just keep your head down and do the work.  Stop.  Your work is important.  Your relationships are important.  If you’re not happy, take action.

“You have a choice.  You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life.”  When we’re hurt, frustrated or downright angry, often our gut reaction is to blame.  Brene Brown describes blame as 'the discharge of discomfort and pain' and she’s right.  But, there’s always a choice and we get to pick our next course of action.

“Dreams lie in the future, and I like to imagine the future as a hallway filled with doors we haven’t yet explored.  Some people find this hallway of the future to be scary and frightening.  This fear is completely warranted, the unknown is a scary place.  In fact, the fear of the unknown is one of the most universal fears throughout all of humanity!  But, there is also a light at the end of this hallway.  And that light, is our dreams.” 

What do grownups dream about?  Sometimes I dream about taking a nap or getting my Costco shopping done before the weekend, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.  What do you dream about?  What’s one thing you will commit to doing today to start making that dream come true?  We can’t lose track of our dreams because we go to work every single day, take kids to a million different places, and all the other things that make up our lives.  Dream on!

“To quote Mohnish Pabrai, a wise businessman, “Mistakes are the best teachers. One does not learn from success.  It is desirable to learn vicariously from other people’s failure, but it gets much more firmly seared in when they are your own".”  Yes, I quoted a quote.  Couldn’t pass that up.  Failure can’t be learned via osmosis.  It just can’t.  The situation will never be exactly the same because people aren’t the same.  Be brave.

When you’re feeling stressed or feeling scared, remember middle school can be one of the scariest places some of us have ever experienced, so if they can be brave… so can we.