It’s graduation season; a time for reflection, celebration and commencement speeches delivered to commemorate transitions from one phase of life to the next. As a coach, I’m in question rather than advise mode. That’s because the coaching profession is based on the principle that every person is creative, whole and resourceful. As a GenXer who engages all generations in my work – I know that this is true.
I’d like to offer you some of the lessons I have learned in life and work that you may find valuable.
You get to choose much of what happens in your life.
Being able to choose is both an extraordinary responsibility and a tremendous opportunity. Focus on the opportunity side of the equation. You are blessed to be living in a period of history where your ideas can take root with the click of a mouse, and movements are created in less time than it takes to read this paragraph. I know you will use those powers for good.
Shed feelings of angst or concern that you only have one particular path in life; there are many paths, and you will create your own, which will be so much better than any pre-determined plan.
Choose your heroes well and please be among them.
Humbly share your stories, particularly about courage, struggle, and vulnerability. These are the most important stories heroes can share.
Ignore disempowering labels.
Ignore labels from others that make you feel small while embracing those descriptors that empower you. Judgments from others are more a reflection of them than they are a reflection of you. Acknowledge when you fall into the trap of labeling yourself and others. Then cut yourself some slack.
Seek gratitude no matter what your situation.
Focus on your unique strengths and the possibilities that are all around you. Your weaknesses won’t derail you without your consent. If you look for the bright spots, you’ll find them.
Information and data, frequently disguised as facts are often just well-intended but misguided advice. Fact-checking will keep you open to new ideas while protecting you from urban myths and that viscous rumour-mill. What may be true for someone else may not be true for you.
You have a massive neuronal network linking your brain to your gut. If you have a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, you might want to listen to it. That feeling will always serve you.
Life is the ultimate apprenticeship.
Be open to outcomes as experiences. There are very few things that happen in our lives that we can call failures – it’s all learning.
There will be times in your life when you will be tested, and you will need to draw a proverbial line in the sand. I wish you wisdom coupled with practicality when having to make those tougher decisions. Once you’ve made that decision, move on.
Own your career.
Continue to align your values with your career goals. Take accountability for your work, and you will avoid many of the traps previous generations fell into.
Be intentional in your actions.
Be clear on your “why” as much as your “what.” If you are considering that degree, certificate or public recognition, go and get it with my blessing. But don’t feel you “have to”. You already have your permission.
Be ready to embrace the next generation.
The first of GenerationZ will be entering the workplace in the next few years. Be the kind of boss and mentor that you wanted when you started your first job. Realize that this generation will see the world differently than you do. Embrace those differences in a way that we didn’t initially embrace your unique gifts.
Chris Peterson, psychologist and one of the founding fathers of positive psychology said “Other people matter.” You matter. If the world ever seems too overwhelming, please reach out for help. We need you.
You will find your unique way in the world as every generation has before you. You will encounter gifts and obstacles you can’t yet imagine so keep an open mind while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. Continue to shape this world so that future generations can enjoy even greater riches. Most of all have fun, the ride of life moves fast.
When I was preparing for job interviews, promotions or big presentations earlier in my career, my best friend Christina would say, “It’s all in you” rather than saying “good luck.”
It is in you. You don’t need luck. You have everything you need and more.
I’m asking a lot of you. We’re all asking a lot of you. I would have preferred you inherit a world with fewer thorny problems, that didn’t all seem to require your urgent attention. I know you will take all these responsibilities in stride. You have more to offer than you can imagine. Please use your prosperity to shine a light on injustice, to innovate and to champion others.
Newspaper cartoonist and columnist Frank Tyger said:
“The future depends on many things, but mostly you.”
And it’s true.
The world is in your hands now: your competent hands. It’s all in you.
This blog was modified. It was originally published in the ARCompany blog