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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Pat’s Graduation Speech 2014

By on April 30, 2014 in See It Here

It’s the time of year when high school and college students celebrate this thing called “graduation” and for some weird reason they always have someone appear to offer advice when nobody in the audience, including parents, has any interest in what they have to say. When I sat at Elston High School, I think the speaker was the school superintendent and I have no idea what he said. I just didn’t care. That’s because everyone just wants to get out of there and not look back until ten years later when someone mentions “reunion.” And having attended one or two, the graduation speaker is never mentioned at a reunion because (1) they’ve been forgotten and (2) they’ve been forgotten.

Of course this has never stopped someone from going on and on for an hour with real-world observances for the newcomers. A graduation speech has always been about “look at me” rather than “look at you.”

Now, I haven’t been asked, which is a credit to America’s school system, but my speech would be brief. In fact, here’s my take on how you face the world in 6 steps:

  1. Don’t show up to a job interview without wearing socks.
  2. Your diploma says nothing about what you know. Instead, it says you were able to sit through a place you didn’t want to be in and learn something you didn’t care about that was probably not going to be useful at any moment in your life. But, this is a quality that has always proved worthwhile in the real world. Always look at the big picture and know the reason we’re here today is to learn something we weren’t aware of yesterday and apply it to tomorrow. It’s called humility.
  3. You may have gotten straight A’s and become a member of the National Honor Society but that is not going to mean a darn thing once you leave school. The real world isn’t about memorizing the past; it’s about seeing the “now” and how you can make it better. Which bring me to the next point:
  4. We are here to make the world better than had we not been here in the first place. Otherwise, why go through all of these years trying to stay on the right side of the soil? Make a difference. Remember all those talks in dorms or in high school or after too many beers about “why-am-I-here?” Well, this is the answer. And, it has never changed, despite all the experts you watch on informercials every Sunday morning selling juicers or vacuum cleaners or Jesus. How do you do it?  Well, start with “pay it forward.” Watch what happens.
  5. When someone starts pointing fingers and wants an argument about the role of government in our life or if Bill Wade passed to Gale Sayres so often that the opposing team always knew what to do or if  Yoko really did break up the Beatles, remember these words: “It’s not you against me. It’s you and me against the problem.”
  6. Stop wearing baseball caps backwards.

Life is not difficult but if you’re stupid, things can get complicated. Good luck out there but know luck only has a small role in what happens next.

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