My alma mater called and requested that I give an inspirational speech during the graduation rites of its Grade School Department.
A week before, I made a self-assessment and determined I wanted more training / experience in public speaking. Hmmm… What can I say? The universe will conspire to get you what you want, when you want it. That is, immediately, or almost immediately.
Let me share with you the text of my speech.
Beloved director, principal and members of the faculty, proud parents, and above all, the graduates. My congratulations.
I imagine that you are excited at graduating, a little scared of going to highschool, sad about saying goodbye to friends and teachers, and excited about the summer. I also felt the same way when I was 12.
Looking at your faces, at this school, at the teachers, I realize that everything has changed. And nothing has changed.
But let me tell you, tomorrow will be the beginning of one of the most wonderful, memorable, exciting part of your lives.
So let me speak to you now as someone speaking to another who is starting on the most wonderful journey. But you have to listen, and you have to listen hard, because I am going to tell you some of the secrets to success.
They are growth, generosity, gratitude and love of God. You can call them the 4 G’s. And they are the secrets to success.
The first is GROWTH.
Let me tell you about growth by telling you about Mulan. You all know Mulan’s story. She wanted to defeat the Huns but she was a girl who did not know how to fight. She could not even carry a weapon! But she did not let that stop her. She practiced until she got so tired she could not practice anymore. The next day, she got up and practiced, she got beat up but she practiced, left hanging on a pole but practiced, got buried in snow but practiced. Before she knew it, she was China’s hero.
What am I trying to say? The next years of your life will determine your future. Make the next years one of growth. Embrace growth. Find out what you are good at, find out what you like to do. And then grow. Practice. Practice some more. Because here is another secret – if you practice – You can be anything you want to be. So do not be afraid. While you are at it, do not be afraid to fail.
Let me also tell you more about failure because it is important in growing. You all know Michael Jordan, right? He is the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and missed 26 winning shots. He failed over and over and over again. But that is why he is the greatest basketball player in the world.
The second is GENEROSITY.
You have to be generous, even overly generous, because here is the secret – if you give more, you will have more. We are all familiar with the sayings – it is better to give than to receive, or God loves a cheerful giver. You know they are all clues – clues to great riches (both material and spiritual) – and they are all true. Because when you give, you release a powerful blessing and it embraces you.
The third is GRATITUDE.
We say it every day – “Thank you”. But we do not know how much power THANK YOU has. When you appreciate people and events and the things you have in your life, the whole universe jumps up and down and what it wants to do is to give you more. Try it. Say thank you more often, say it with your every step, say it with your every prayer. You will be amazed at the wonderful surprises it will give you.
While we are at it, thank you for having me. It is really my great privilege to be in your presence today.
The last G is for God
God the power and source of all things. He is the reason why we are all here. He is your stronghold here in the present and in the future. He is great. And he loves you more than you know.
So let me end with my wish for all of you. In your life may you have people who will listen and spend time with you, encourage you and believe in you. May you embrace growth and excellence, may you be generous, may you say thank you often, may God watch over you. With this blessing, may you go forth and do wonderful things. Again, my congratulations.
Article by Issa. Painting by Danvic Briones. Copyright 2011.
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