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5 Unexpected Ways To Move Beyond Lofty Graduation Speeches


Think of all the preparation that goes into a graduation speech.

With all the time spent, you would think the speeches would resonate for years, but few do.

Looking back at the three graduation commencement speeches I experienced, I do not remember one word. And, for two out of the three, I don’t remember even who gave them.

Graduation speeches seem to be a rite of passage.

Maybe we need to be more practical and relevant.

Here are five things you will never hear in a graduation speech despite them being things you need to do:

Five Practical Steps to Take After Graduation:

1. Floss daily.

About half of Americans floss daily. I admit it, flossing is tedious. Yet, flossing cleans the gunk between our teeth and promotes a healthy habit for the long term.

Another reason to floss daily is life takes a certain discipline to get where you want to go.

By flossing daily, you are taking a boring daily activity and doing it, all with the goal of promoting a better outcome in the end.

Not all work is exciting, but much of it is required.

Floss daily and use it as a reminder to embrace the discipline it takes to get the necessary work done.

2. Boomerang worthy behaviors.

Boomerangs are thrown and returned. Our behaviors take a similar path. If you are callous to coworkers, the behavior will eventually come back to you.

If you step on others as you rise in your career, sooner or later you will be stepped on.

Good behaviors take a similar boomerang path. Treat others fairly and with respect, and most will return with fairness and respect.

Give to others by offering a helping hand and others will give to you.

Behaviors matter in life and work. Limit your bad behaviors and expand your good behaviors.

Create a positive boomerang community of support and engagement.

3. Engage in the hype.

There are many electrifying headlines of what is happening or about to happen. Most of the headlines may be crap, but some may contain a kernel of truth in the unfolding story.

Developing a good way to sort through and think through the hype will be an important skill in life.

If you can discern the good hype from the bad, you will lead with an edge, and you will be an innovator.

Find the right waves of change and lead the way.

4. Know what you don’t know.

By graduating, you may feel like you know it all. But no matter our age, there are many things we do not know.

Success is based on knowing what you don’t know and then taking the time to fill in the gaps.

The objective is not to fill your find with useless junk. Your mission is to always remain curious and humble.

5. Pull weeds often.

If we think of our monthly calendar of activities as a garden, we believe we are planning it out well for growth and harvest.

But, what tends to happen is weeds begin to fill in and then take over our well-planned garden.

When the weeds take over, we become very distracted and we harvest very little of value. We begin to starve ourselves from fulfilling lives. We need to pull the weeds.

Each month, determine what is crowding your time from achieving your desired purpose and results.

Tend to your garden of work and life.

The problem with many graduation speeches is they try too hard to inspire.

When the cold, hard world awaits, what’s needed is a strong dose of practical steps to use every day.

Don’t get me wrong; inspiration delivers the necessary heart-filled beats and aspiration offers a golden opportunity of what is possible.

Without the proper mix of very basic advice, frustration and disillusionment will prevail. Don’t let this happen.


- Floss daily for good discipline

- Create good boomerangs of action

- Explore the edge to innovate

- Engage what you don’t know to always be relevant and curious

- Pull the weeds to maintain clarity of what matters most

As Casey Kasem always said:

Too many graduation speeches tell you to reach for the stars without doing the basics.

Do the right basics and you will achieve your dreams.