According to Jason Gay's article in the May 11-12, 2019 issue of The Wall Street Journal, the secret that no one is telling the 2019 graduates is: "Nobody really knows what they're doing." No matter how much the previous generation thinks you're lazy, or spoiled, or entitled, nobody in that generation knew what they were doing either.
There is no manual that outlines how to be successful in life. No one has the keys to the magic door. There is no wizard behind the curtain with all the answers. Nobody knows. Not the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos. Not Warren Buffett, not Oprah, not Tom Brady or Tom Hanks. Not President Trump, not Joe Biden, not Robert Muller.
As a parent, I often wondered if I was doing the right thing for our daughter. Was I sending her to the right school, should I let her go to that party, am I encouraging (i.e., pushing) her enough without stamping out her love and curiosity for a particular activity? There are thousands of books written on how to be a good parent, but none of them answer the question that keeps Mom and Dad up at night, "Am I doing the right thing for my child?"
When I was coaching high school basketball, I recall times my players weren't happy with a decision I made and would tell me it "wasn't fair." Occasionally, they were correct, but they learned a valuable lesson - life isn't fair! Sometimes, even if you do everything right, you still lose. But that doesn't make you a loser. You become a loser when you whine, complain, or blame someone else for your loss. Winners lose on the scoreboard every day. But they are winners because they learn from that loss and work harder and smarter to overcome their deficiencies.
At the end of May, our daughter Mikela, will complete a five- year odyssey of ups and downs, of good and bad, of heartbreak and triumph and graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. This journey started with a year at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, before being accepted to the Air Force Academy. She endured two doses of Basic Training, an injured knee that needed to be surgically repaired and cost her a basketball career she loved, and math and engineering classes, the names of which, I can't even spell.
Not bad for a kid who was diagnosed in middle school as having dyslexia, an anxiety disorder, and attention issues. Realistically, there is no way she should have made it through the rigors of a military school education. The deck was stacked against her. She wasn't sure how to do it. She most likely should have flunked out. But somehow, she figured it out. And because of her resiliency, her effort, and her warrior spirit, she will walk across that stage and into a new world where nobody knows what they are doing.
I will still worry about her. But given what she has overcome, I won't be part of the generation that doubts her or thinks she is spoiled or entitled. I will be part of the generation who is thankful for men and women like her, who don’t know the answers but have the resiliency to never quit until they find the solutions.
To all the members of the Class of 2019 who figured out how to be successful, thank you for your commitment. I don’t worry so much about the future of our country or our world, knowing that you are there to lead the way.
Congratulations and all the best from my generation to yours!
Author & Motivational Speaker
Terry is a sought after speaker who believes in the power of a story to motivate, inspire, and help others lead their uncommon and extraordinary lives. By combining his eleven-year cancer journey with his diverse business, athletic coaching, and hostage negotiating expertise, he delivers compelling yet relatable presentations for conferences, on-line events, panels, meetings, and seminars.