Where did March and April go? Where did the last decade go?

Bruce Wallace

The sands of time seem to be shifting faster each year and now, ready or not, it is graduation time.

It was five years ago I premiered as a commencement speaker, I have been relegated again this year to photographer – which is much less fun, but also much less nerve-wracking.

But if I were to attempt to say something memorable to the Southern Boone High School graduating class of 2018, I might say something like this:

“Congratulations and welcome to Commencement 2018 – otherwise known as the first day of the rest of your life, or, the last time you have to be bored in this high school.

In the past 13 years, you have made friends, shared ideas, learned a foundation of facts from amazing teachers and opened your mind to new ideas.

Now you have a choice.

You can either take all that you have learned and apply it in this still, relatively new century, or you can go the standard, same old-same old route.

Now, I have no problem with tradition. Without tradition, we would not have homecoming, the Black Hole or this commencement ceremony. However, tradition has also stymied growth and created expectations that hold back creativity.

For instance, let’s take a look at where you will go from here. Most of you will get married by the time you are 28 and have your first children by the time you are 33. Only a third of you will graduate from college and nearly half of you will never live more than 100 miles from this high school.

But you are not limited by statistics. Never, ever think you are limited by statistics.

In this age of connectivity, no one is limited by their location. And you’re certainly not limited by your age, as history has shown us:

Charles A. Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris at age 25.

Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon at age 35.

Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring” at age 55.

Grandma Moses began painting at 77. She painted several masterpieces before her death at 101. Her paintings, including one on a commemorative US postage stamp, now sell for millions.

So whether or not you take a traditional path – nobody says you have to go straight to college – and nobody says you can’t graduate from college a few decades from now – you can make a difference in this world. It often takes talent, but more importantly, it takes talent, some experience and plenty of perseverance.

But in order to enjoy the kind of success you have enjoyed at Southern Boone, there are ten things I will leave you with that require zero talent:

  • Being on time
  • Work ethic
  • Effort
  • Body Language
  • Energy
  • Attitude
  • Passion
  • Being coachable
  • Doing extra
  • Being prepared

Get those ten things right and you have no limits.

Take great care to use your time wisely. As business philosopher Harvey Mackay once wrote:

“Time is free, but it is priceless.”

You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.

And once you have lost it, you can never get it back.”

Good luck to the Southern Boone Class of 2018.

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