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Wisdom for Young and Old
from Graduation Speeches

Graduation

Compiled by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Some graduation speeches are just plain boring. Others offer nuggets of wisdom that can stay with you for a lifetime. Here are excerpts from some of this year's best:

Oprah Winfrey

The One and Only Oprah Winfrey

“When you give your word, keep it. Do the work. You build a legacy, not from one thing, but from everything. Pay your bills on time. Recycle. Make your bed. Aim high. Say thank you to people and actually mean it. Ask for help when you need it. Put your phone away at the dinner table. Know that it’s better to be interested than interesting. Don’t ever confuse what is legal with what is moral because they are entirely different animals. So do the right thing, especially when nobody’s looking.”

Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook

“Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd. If you step up without fear of failure, if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection, if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, the rest will fall into place.”

Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Make a point of reaching out to people whose beliefs and values differ from your own. I would like you to listen to them, truly listen, and try to understand them, and find that common ground. You have a world of opportunity at your fingertips. But as you go forward from here, understand that just around the corner, a whole different order of learning awaits, in which your teachers will come from every station in life, every education level, every belief system, every lifestyle. And I hope you will embrace that.”

Rex Tillerson

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“Maintain and protect who you are, and remember that being a person with integrity is the most valuable asset you have. Don’t ever let anyone take it from you. Carefully consider the values and the culture of the organizations in which you seek to work. Look for employers who set high standards for personal conduct and who reward ethical leadership. Importantly, recognize that integrity is not unique to any one culture. No matter where you are in the world, integrity and good character are prized by every great faith and every great tradition.”

Jeff Flake

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake

“Challenge all of your assumptions regularly. Recognize the good in your opponents. Apologize every now and then. Admit to mistakes. Forgive, and ask for forgiveness. Listen more. Speak up more, for politics sometimes keeps us silent when we should speak. And if you find yourself in a herd, crane your neck, look back there and… ask yourself if it really suits you. From personal experience, I can say that it’s never too late to leave the herd. When you peel off from the herd, your equilibrium returns. Food tastes better. You sleep well. Your mind is your own again.”

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya

“It’s great that you are a Wharton MBA. But please, don’t act like it. While earned, titles can turn into a burden. Don’t let it get in the way of seeing people as people and all they have to offer you, regardless of their title or position. Business doesn’t have to be a dirty field. You can put all of your passion into doing good things. In business class, you learned about ROI – return on investment. You should also know about ROK – return on kindness. With ROK, you can immediately see results.”

Ronan Farrow

Journalist Ronan Farrow

“No matter what you choose to do; no matter what direction you go, you’ll face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. And I hope that in that moment you’ll … trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own senses of principle — and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, and sensationalism, and celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Al Gore

Al Gore

“We all face the same choice in life over and over again. It’s the choice between the hard right and the easy wrong. All of us know if we pause and reflect that there is that little voice that is faint but always there, it is always, always a mistake to ignore that little voice. You have shared your true self.”

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Copyright © 2018: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.

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