Seven Tips for New and Almost College Grads

I’m often asked to speak at college Commencement Exercises. The expectation is that I’ll have something profound to say to the new graduates.

More often than not I find it’s college administration, faculty and parents who care more about what I say, not the students. After all, it’s the folks that run the college who invite me.

This however, doesn’t prevent me from having my own perspective about what ideas are most important for grads and almost grads. In the spirit of the season, here are my thoughts for young people embarking upon life. It’s written directly to the twenty-something eager for a life of success:

1 – Dream

Everyone will tell you to dream but somehow dreaming seems to fade for many adults. They often settle into the mundane. You don’t have to make the evening news to lead a productive life, but you should seek to maximize your potential. Being ambitious is good. Do not let life’s challenges cause you to accept less. Dream about creating a better way. Be as successful as you can. In the process, make life good for others.

2 – Work

Don’t stop with a dream. Be prepared to do the work. You probably feel pretty good about yourself and you should, but remember you are JUST beginning. You know less than you think. You’re not as accomplished as you think. In order to be good you must work. In order to be excellent you must work. Sometimes you must work like you’ve never worked before. Find someone with lots of experience who will not mince words and tell you how to become excellent in every part of your life. LISTEN even if it hurts. Then be prepared to work at it every day.

3 – Read

You were probably asked to read lots of books in school. Hopefully you digested what you read. But your focus on getting through the class and getting a good grade may mean you don’t fully comprehend all you read. Go back and read what interests you with a new attitude. Make sure the habit of reading doesn’t die in your life. In particular read about people, events, and places. Always have a book that you’re reading. Watch less TV. Eliminate it if you can. Watch fewer movies. Become excellent at reading and having intelligent conversations about what you’ve read.

4 – Write

Many adults can’t write. That’s because of a lack of discipline and practice. Many adults with Masters Degrees and beyond make embarrassing mistakes when writing.I’m not talking about annoying mistakes that you make when you’re moving too quickly. I’m talking about not being able to write in a way that others will comprehend. Get a pen and paper and write a letter to the people you know and love. Do this OFTEN. Write your thoughts in a journal. Use full sentences. Writing makes you more complete and causes smart people to take notice. A good writer is a good thinker. It will also advance your career in a big way. While you’re writing learn to say “thank you,” and to applaud others. Be a thoughtful and responsive person.

5 – Expand

Meet new friends beyond those you’ve grown up with. Meet some people who know things you don’t know. It may sound in poor taste but be a “social climber”. Get to know smarter, richer, and more successful people. Don’t stay stuck in the same group you’ve always socialized with. Go to places and events you wouldn’t normally. Take classes in interesting subjects for fun. Break through the barrier of social conditioning you have from your parents, family, and friends. There’s more to learn and much more you can be and do. But remember in the process to be genuine and look for ways to help and support the people you meet.

6 – Travel

Find a way to go as many places as you can. Go to different cities. Leave the country often. While you’re traveling to distant lands, learn about the people and its history. Few things open your mind more than travel. You’ll see people handle things completely differently than you’re accustomed. You’ll see different issues surface that are new to you. Travel will expand your mind and keep your juices flowing.

7 – Create

Don’t just copy. Research is not “Googling” and copying what you find. It’s not going to other websites and doing what others are doing. Don’t just consume. Create something new. Bring a new idea, project, group, or organization to the world. Focus on an important issue. Don’t be afraid to start something… even a business.

by Andre Taylor.

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