Graduation Speech: Use Your Strengths to Help Others

Graduation Speech: Use Your Strengths to Help Others

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Wow! 12 years of hard work, 12 years of perseverance, 12 years of dedication! A great king once said, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel." We each have mentors in our life who give us this counsel. What we choose to do with it determines if we are considered foolish or wise. Naturally, we tend to think we are always right, and even on the occasions when we are right, there is always something to learn from a second opinion.

Take just a second to think back over the last 18 years of your life. Think of all the second opinions you've received. These opinions and the people who shared them go you to this point. While you may think you got here through your own doing, think a little harder and consider those days when all you wanted to do was climb trees, play with Barbie dolls or watch "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" all day long. What changed that? Was there one day when, suddenly, in your most mature five-year-old voice you said, "Mom, Dad, I've made a decision. I want to start saving for college. Could you please put my allowance in a bank account for me?" Personally, I can say that I did not have one of those days. As diligent as you may think I am to my studies, I can say for certain that I would have loved to just play outside all day and stay up late watching movies. However, as much fun as I would have had, I would not have gotten very far. Thankfully, I had numerous people in my life who showed me, at just the right times, how to grow.

Think of your teachers, preschool through high school, who cared enough each day to come to school to a class of at least 30 kids who each had their own agenda and were able to make each child's agenda important.

Think of your friends, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents and others who have showed you how to be a good friend and how to grow in relationships, simply by being there. Think of coaches and instructors you've had who pushed you to do things you didn't want to do so that you would achieve the things you wanted to achieve.

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Think of your parents who, beyond giving you life, nurtured you, loved you, potty-trained you, took you to kindergarten, made you do your homework when you didn't want to, took care of you when you were sick, played taxi as you got older, brought your lunch money to school when you forgot it and, for some reason, to this day could still remember the first words you ever said and how old you were when you took your first steps.

What a blessing each of these people has been in our lives. And they each had one thing in common. They cared enough to put our interests before their own. Now, Class of 2003, as we graduate and set out to take care of ourselves, let us not forget these people. It is our turn to care for them as well as for the future. It is our turn to be the mentors and counselors of the younger generation and to mold them as we have been molded.

Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses. Use your strengths to teach others. If you artistic, find a young person who likes to draw and multiply their talent through encouragement, instruction and companionship. If you are athletic, coach a junior sports team and give a child confidence that they too could be great one day if they work hard at everything they do. If you are musical, keep the joy of music alive in kids everywhere. If you are socially gifted, find places to hang out with kids and show them by example how people should interact. Whatever your strengths are, if you use them to help others first, I guarantee you, without any extra effort, you will also benefit.
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