It’s that time of year… for syrupy graduation speeches, often filled with advice that I truly hope graduates do NOT take. I’m talking about “chase your dreams” and “follow your passions” kind of advice, along with the reminders that, “You are amazing” and, “You can do anything.”
Sorry, but you really can’t do anything, and those who say you can are doing you a disservice. Had I believed that I could do anything when I graduated from high school, I would have pursued a career in professional football. I think we all know how that would have turned out.
Instead, I’d like to give you some advice that may not be as inspirational, but will send you in the direction of success more rapidly and with far greater fulfillment than any dream that you could possibly chase. These things will take you further.
• Do what’s right. If you do, you might suffer some temporary set-backs, like embarrassment at a party because you pass when offered weed, or a sneer when you refuse to lie for a coworker. But in the end, doing what’s right pays long-term dividends. Do what’s right no matter what. It’s more powerful than following your passion.
• Make wise decisions. Get lots of advice from the right people, and make choices based on wisdom. Focus on what will be good for the long haul and not immediate gratification. Stay out of debt, stay away from bad environments, hang around with the right people, and think about how your choices impact the future.
• Add value to others. If you encourage, serve, bless and promote others, you’ll find that the by-product will be beneficial to you. It’s amazing and ironic how humility and love become self-serving if we don’t practice them for that reason. When you add value to others, you increase in value to others. It’s better than your dreams coming true.
• Take advantage of opportunities. If you pay attention, and especially if you pray, you will find God opening doors for you that you probably would not think of as a dream come true, but a good opportunity nonetheless. It’s not the dream-chasers who are convinced that they are amazing and entitled who become successful. Successful people are those who took advantage of opportunities and brought passion to whatever they do.
• Fulfill your purpose. Your purpose is not whatever career you want or end up in. Your purpose is not doing whatever you are good at or passionate about. Your purpose, the reason you were created, is to know, honor, worship, and love God. Whatever you do in life, if you miss this, you will miss everything. But if you pursue God and elevate Jesus in everything, by your attitude, with your morals and ethics, and in your relationships, you will some day look back at your life with gratitude and fulfillment. Because that’s what you were created for!