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Photo courtesy of Indian Lake Schools
I was humbled and privileged to give the commencement speech at my alma mater Indian Lake High School. I felt like some of the points I made in my speech might be of interest to our team as well. I want to share with you my seven keys to navigating your journey toward success.
Define what success means to you. Make SMART goals for yourself (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound). Specific goals help define what you are trying to accomplish and set up your plan to complete them. Measurements give you updates and can highlight the reality of your progress. Attainable and realistic go together. They are important to make sure that you do not get discouraged and lose focus because they cannot be completed. Finally, the “T” stands for timebound. Timebound goals are important for planning and achievement purposes. It also creates a sense of urgency around completion that will help motivate you. Be prepared to update the goals as dynamics change. There is no straight line to success. There will be stops, starts, and course changes. Know that upfront and prepare for it. Change is your friend. Do not let society or others define success for you.
Nothing in life comes easy. It is all about hard work and dedication. Hard work does the mind, heart, and body good. Problems are solved by hard work. Skills and reputations are made by hard work. You will take more satisfaction from your accomplishment that you have had to work the hardest for.
You must find something to do that you love and are passionate about. If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. Passion is a strong leadership tool that people respect and are drawn to. It is needed to motivate others. Just remember to control your emotions. Unbridled and unfocused passion can lead to problems. When you are passionate about something you will try harder to attain it. It is easier to give it your all and push for success.
There is no such thing as luck. I would come home and say that so and so was lucky and my dad would say back to me “luck is when skill and preparation combine.” I have updated this one: “luck is when skill and preparation combine and realize opportunity.” In reality, we make our own luck. Think about it. Each of you has inherent skills. You will most likely go on to trainings, apprenticeships, or higher education. Preparation is all about planning, setting goals, practicing, and visualizing what you want to happen. You can control skill and preparation.
Don’t be afraid of ‘failure.’ All inventions and innovations come from failures. Bad things are going to happen to you. That is a fact of life. You are defined by how you pick yourself up and overcome those bad times to succeed. Mary Pickford has a quote about failure that I love “If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Even some of the smartest people in the world deal with failure. According to NASA’s moon fact sheet, 40% of the lunar missions over the last 60 years have failed. Yet people keep innovating and trying to reach for the stars. There are many gambles in life, do not be afraid to bet on yourself.
Search out mentors and open yourself up to become one to others. Parents, teachers, coaches, religious figures, family, friends, managers, and coworkers. They can come from anywhere if they have the traits or experience you want to emulate. I have learned a lot by leaning on mentors, but I have learned even more by mentoring others. It is an act of service that is truly rewarding. Good things happen to good people. There is too much negativity in this world. It gets in the way of progress and is one of those roadblocks that can keep us from realizing our goals. Empathy, honesty, integrity, and accountability are your shield. People will give you the benefit of the doubt if they know you are trustworthy. Your word is your bond. Respect is given to those that treat others with respect. Changing the world starts with individuals.
I have applied these lessons to my career, parenting, hobbies, and to everyday life. It has helped me find my success.
I will leave you with this. I challenge the class of 2023 and everyone in the audience today. Live your life, set SMART goals, work hard, find your passion, make your own luck, don’t be scared, find a mentor, and be a good person. If you do that you will be a success. I guarantee it.
ACRT Services offers expert independent consulting solutions to utilities and associated organizations throughout the United States, including vegetation management consulting, ecological consulting, arborist training, customized safety courses, technology solutions, utility metering services, and more to empower the best people in the industry.