It’s the time of year. Caps and gowns on parade. Young men and women on the threshold of the rest of their lives. Awesome. Inspiring. Scary as hell.
I was recently asked to contribute to an article called something like, “Best Advice for Graduates That You Never Received.” Started me thinking. And since I am now writing an advice column, I’m all smug about my advice-giving abilities.
So here’s my six best pieces of advice to graduates:
1. Have integrity in all that you do. Integrity means that you operate from a place of honor. You say what you mean, and mean what you say. You’re reliable. You’re consistent. You can be counted on. Coming from a place of integrity creates a sterling reputation. And a sterling reputation delivers a sterling career, and a happy life.
2. Take the time to connect with others. Get to know the people you work with, the people who live next door, the people at the local homeless shelter. Because by connecting with others, you’ll deepen your connection with yourself. You’ll know yourself more intimately, and allow others to know you fully, too. And you’ll be richer for the experience.
3. Live a life full of risks. Maybe that means something as big as BASE jumping to you (please wear a helmet and pay your insurance premiums, dear) but small risks — like speaking up, or saying no — can be even more powerful (and don’t usually require helmets). Do something that feels like a risk to you every single day, and you will never feel stuck in a too small life.
4. Have passion — for your work, for your loves, for your life. When there’s at least one thing you are absolutely on fire about, the focused joy that results will draw fabulous people and experiences to you. Just a word of caution: don’t confuse passion with drama. If it feels even slightly icky or squidgy, it’s probably drama. Passion always brings something positive to the world, while drama generally dwells in the negative. Live with passion and you live in a positive place.
5. Define your own idea of success. I have known people who have gone to all the right schools and got the right jobs… and are miserable. Why? Because they were marching to the beat of somebody else’s drummer. Money is just a tool that allows you to do what you want to do. Status is a function of ego and ultimately means nothing. [See Integrity above] What means something is who you are and what you bring. Decide on that, and do it. Tap out your own beat.
6. Get out of your own way. Allow great things to happen for you. Because when you’re living with integrity, passion, connection and risks, you have created an environment where your best self can come out to play. When that happens, your life will unfold in amazing and inspiring ways. Let it. Be open and accepting and aware of the great stuff — and more will pour into your life.
Someone said to me this week, “Your twenties are all about figuring stuff out.” To which I said, “Honey, LIFE is about figuring stuff out.” Life’s not like a research project where you line up all your sources, exhaust all lines of inquiry and write up a whopping conclusion where everything is laid out all reasoned and deduced. No, in my experience, it’s precisely those times when you think you have it all figured out that — wham! — everything changes.
So my final piece of advice is this: be constantly curious, and continue to find and shape who you are and what you stand for. Take it all in, and savor it. Continue to grow. Live a full and dynamic, changing life.
Why? Because it’s a really, really fabulous way to live. That’s why.