A pep talk for graduates

So you’ve done the work: you studied hard, you wrote the papers, you got the diploma.  Now that you’re entering the working world, here is some advice that will help you along the way.

Follow your heart.
What is that one thing that makes your heart sing? Maybe it’s not one thing, but many things. When you daydream, what do you picture yourself doing? When you have free time, how do you spend it? Pay attention to the things that you love to do and seek out a profession that allows you to do them. It could be that you really love being creative. Or you light up when you’re part of a team. Identifying these simple things early on will help you ask the right questions during interviews. A lot of time we worry about making ourselves right for a job, but we don’t spend enough time thinking about whether that job is right for us. Always listen to your heart.

Stay positive.
Ask anyone about some of the first jobs they had coming out of school, and they’re likely to share at least a couple horror stories. From the micro-managing boss and catty co-workers to being asked to do tasks that can only be described as soul-crushing. We’ve all been there. The key is to stay positive. When an environment starts to become toxic, don’t contribute to the fray. Don’t gossip. Don’t kvetch. Don’t roll your eyes. We know it’s tough to resist but it will help you out immensely in the long run. People want to be around positive people. Remember that “Debbie Downer” sketch on "Saturday Night Live"? Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Keep a smile on your face and make a plan for yourself to find something better. That way, once you do move on, you can leave with your head held high and your legacy spotless. Besides, you never know when you’ll run into these people again.

Be optimistic.
Things will not always be easy. There will be hard work, wrong turns, and big opportunities for learning (that’s what we call mistakes.) But be optimistic that everything is going to turn out okay. Be hopeful. Don’t let the world beat you down, no matter how hard it tries. There is always a new day and a new chance.

Be true to you.
Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings. Sit at the table and contribute to the conversation. You have a unique perspective on the world that is valuable and relevant. Fresh ideas are always welcome and a good idea can come from anywhere. But no one is ever going to hear it unless you share.

Think outside the box.
Be creative with how you look at a task and how you approach your work. Is there a way to do it better, more efficiently, or more cost-effectively? Just because it’s always been done a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best way. Anyone can be creative -- it’s not just the stuff of writers and painters and musicians. When you think differently, people notice and they appreciate it.

Create your own path.
When all else fails, be a self-starter. There’s no job that fits exactly what you want to be doing? Don’t wait for someone else to come to you -- do it yourself. Find some like-minded people who share your goals, values, and work ethic and start your own business. Some of the greatest success stories of our time are about people going out on their own and creating something brand new. Without these courageous people, we wouldn’t have things like the iPhone, the Internet, or even airplanes. Remember: Orville Wright didn’t have a pilot’s license.*

*Quote by Richard Tate

Infuse joy into everything you do.
Work shouldn’t be something you have to do. It’s something you get to do. Remember to have fun. Be grateful for what you have. Tackle every task with a spring in your step. Find ways to have fun with even the most mundane things. Dance in the elevator. Time yourself while doing the filing. Write a rap while you’re waiting for the copy machine to finish.  

Be humble.  
No man (or woman) is an island and none of us exists in a vacuum. There are so many people who have helped you get to where you are. Tell them thank you. Express your gratitude -- whether it’s to a teacher, your parents, or a potential employer. A note of thanks goes a long way. Being humble doesn’t just mean being gracious, it also means owning your mistakes in stride. Acknowledge when something didn’t go right and make a plan to do better next time. When people see that you’re willing to learn and that you’re open to growing, the only place you can go is up.

There is a special spot in this world just for you. Everyone has the potential to make a difference and to contribute to society in their own unique way. How will you make this life good? 

Do what you like.
Like what you do.


Graduation tees here:  http://bit.ly/LIGgradtees