Here's Your Graduation Gift: Some Advice
By Jeff Owen, Arête Purpose Consulting
So...you have graduated. Or you are about to graduate. Or you are being allowed to walk in the commencement -- with the stipulation that you will finish that accounting course later this summer.
For what it's worth, here is some advice from someone who flipped a tassel decades ago and started a writing career (hold onto your mortar board) using a typewriter:
Take control of your steering wheel.
Since your birth, you have been directed, guided and consoled by well-meaning parents, grandparents, guidance counselors, teachers and...that one goofball uncle.
They have helped steer you along your path. If you were lucky enough, they also pulled you from the berm when you veered off (hopefully not because you were texting).
What you do - and how you do it - is now on you, and only you. Others can give you advice and support. But they cannot make your decisions.
They also cannot - nor will not - be responsible for your actions. Ask any first-year law student. "My Facebook Friend told me it was OK..." is not an admissible defense in court.
Also, when you apply for a job, dress appropriately for the interview. Keep your butt crack and boobs hidden. You are not heading out to the clubs.
And when you get that first job, it's your responsibility to succeed. Show up. Show up on time. Show up on time and ready to work. Earn your pay.
Understand that respect is earned, not commanded.
Malcontents complain about being disrespected. But how can you be "dis"respected if you weren't respected in the first place? As Spock says: "It's not logical."
Respect contains three primary ingredients: conduct, motive and integrity.
If you act like an ass, don't be shocked when you are treated like one. If you act only on your behalf, you will live a lonely life. If you step on people to get ahead, one of them will eventually break your ankle.
Without getting too pious, you need to read and live the passage about "Do unto others..." It works.
Don't pattern your life after Kanye West or any of the Kardashians. You will look like a fool.
Know and understand the difference between "Want" and "Need".
Everyone wants a new house. But you only need an apartment to get started.
Everyone wants to be a vice president. But you start with an entry-level position where you prove your value -- and get health insurance.
Everyone wants an Escalade. But you need a used Kia with good gas mileage.
The tug-of-war between "Want" and "Need" causes nearly every economic mishap.
Even in this challenging financial climate, banks like to issue Visa cards with generous lines of credit. If they haven't already, they will send you graphically appealing invitations and emails to join their elite credit clubs.
Remember, though, if you miss a payment for any reason (forgot the due date, spent cash instead at a Von Maur shoe sale), the banks will come and get the stuff you bought with their money.
They are funny that way.
Be a learning sponge.
Your education does not stop with your final Final Exam.
You have the chance to learn throughout the rest of your life. Take advantage of each opportunity.
Attend and participate in training seminars. Watch how long-time employees do their jobs successfully. Ask your boss about expectations.
There are "no dumb questions".
Stay atop of technology. Don't let it pass you by.
Learn how the stock market works. Examine your tax bill and hold accountable the politicians who create it.
Go to the library. Take an art class. Shoot pictures of nature. Watch PBS, the Discovery Channel and HGTV.
Read, read, read. And write, write, write.
Value your family.
Friends - especially boyfriends and girlfriends - will come and go. Today's BFF probably will become distant over time, maybe keeping touch on social media.
During life's most challenging and wonderful moments, your family will be most important to you.
It's also important to remember that family isn't necessarily defined by bloodlines.
You can be related by marriage, adoption, partnership or a shared common interest -- like scrapbooking. No matter the link, family members bond by unconditional love and acceptance.
Families survive the test of time. They welcome you when you explore and come back. They forgive when you admit your transgressions. They are happy when you succeed and lift you up when you don't.
Families call when you are sick -- and check in to see if you are having a good day.
Families don't care about your LinkedIn profile. They are proud of you whether you are shoveling dirt or running a Fortune 500 company.
Family raised you, nurtured you and prepared you for this moment. You should be eternally grateful and indebted to them.
Now, go forth. Live, love and learn. Use this gift wisely.