Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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A Letter To Our 2016 Graduates
Written By Al Jones
Each year, for the past fourteen years, I’ve done a letter to our young adults at graduation time. I always make it an overall message to address not only high school grads, but university, college and tech school grads as well. It kinda slipped my mind this year, until I received an email from a young gentleman, disappointed with me as he was looking forward to this year’s letter so as to scrapbook it with photos and other momentos from his graduation. So, my apologies for writing this late, but….. better late than never.
So, you finally made it! After years and years of hard work, you are officially done with learning what you need to know in order to become a productive member of society. Those of us that have been outside the walls of learning for some time, want to congratulate you. By all means, enjoy your success thus far. But if we may, we’d like to pass on a few more pearls of wisdom that perhaps may have been missed in the vast amount of curriculum you have already absorbed.
There are certain things that have been provided to you in your youth that will no longer be provided. These are things that are hard to find. We had to learn how to find them and what to look for, so by telling you what to look for, perhaps you can find them much easier than we have.
The first one is ‘Time’. Up until now, your life has been scheduled for you. Teachers, professors, administrators and parents have scheduled your life and dictated your responsibilities during those scheduled blocks of time. Anything beyond that was yours, so there has always been plenty of spare time to enjoy and pursue your own interests. But beyond eight hours a day, five days a week of earning a living, all time is up to you to allocate now. We are sure that as you embrace the outside world, manage the responsibilities of keeping a home and eventually take on the challenge of having your own family, this will not only be the most precious commodity in your life, but the hardest to actually find.
The second one is ‘Commitment’. Up until now, others have made commitments on your behalf. They’ve dictated your activities and decided what you must commit to such as what you will learn, how you will learn and when you will learn. But that’s all up to you now. If you have interests or passions, only you control your commitment to pursue those dreams. We must warn you that lack of commitment in life can surely lead to dissatisfaction and lack of direction and purpose.
The third, is ‘Patience’. Up until now, you’ve had the luxury of knowing that if you follow the guidelines and paths that others have laid out for you, that you would ultimately succeed. But there are no guidelines anymore. There will be times in your life when you wonder if you actually make a difference, or if your colleagues recognize your skill sets enough for you to be promoted or respected. The most valued pursuits will require patience to endure the time needed to succeed. Patience is a hard thing to find sometimes, especially when it requires using up some of your most precious and hard to find ‘Time’.
The fourth is ‘Respect’. You’ve heard time and time again throughout your youth that respect is never given. It has to be earned. Guess what? That never ends. No matter how old you are, you must always be aware of who you respect and for what reasons, while simultaneously being aware of your own actions and words so as to garner respect from others. One shortcut to garnering respect is the knowledge of knowing you must give respect to gain respect. If you keep that in mind, respect should be a lot easier to find.
The fifth one is ‘Knowledge’. This probably sounds ironic to you right now, as you have spent a great deal of your life thus far with the prime objective of seeking and acquiring knowledge, but here’s the thing about knowledge: You can never have enough of it. The world around us is in constant change; therefore, we must constantly learn so as to adapt to change. Without further knowledge, there can be no progression for you or society as a whole. There’s a saying that stands true no matter your age…. “knowledge is power”. Never stop learning, for if you do, quality of life becomes diminished. Seek knowledge from others and share knowledge with others. Only through this process, can we all prosper and grow together.
There are other things you will no doubt have to seek on your own now, but these are the ‘Big Five’. I think you’ll discover that all things important to you will ultimately be influenced by how much of the ‘Big Five’ you are able to acquire. You are about to embark on an exciting journey that is life. We congratulate you on your accomplishments thus far and wish you well in all your future endeavours. We welcome you among our ranks and are excited to see what incredible contributions you will, no doubt, make.