5 Lessons for the Class of 2015

It’s May, which means Commencement Season is upon us. In fact, first lady Michelle Obama and actor Denzel Washington have already delivered some pretty stellar speeches at Tuskegee and Dillard universities, respectively. Heck, even Kanye’s gotten in on the cap-and-gown fun.

As I’ve sat through my fair share of speeches (most notably when my college commencement speaker 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl dropped the “p-word” … yes, that one), I’ve often wondered what words of wisdom I’d share with graduates. Because, let’s face it, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life.

But there are some lessons I’ve learned along the way that I’d be happy to share if anyone cares to listen, so here goes…

1. Find your purpose and follow your passion. More often than not, the two are intertwined. Please reference the Venn diagram below for further explanation:

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2. Define success on your own terms. Sure, a six-figure salary is pretty boss. But if you wake up every day hating your job, hating your life and, as a result, hating the world, then that doesn’t seem pretty successful to me. I think the late Maya Angelou said it best:

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 3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Yes, this is coming from a self-proclaimed grade-A, Type A perfectionist. You may have been top of the class and student government president and heck, you may even go on to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But you’re not going to get there without failure. So instead of fearing failure, try to embrace it and, most importantly, learn from it. Easier said than done, I know, but worth a shot.

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4. Travel the world. At my college, studying abroad was the rule, not the exception. There’s so much more to see than your tiny corner of the world. And, for all intents and purposes, America is tiny. Go big, soak up as much culture as possible…and then go home.

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5. Become a man or woman for others. Anyone who’s ever attended a Jesuit school (shout out to Loyola!) is quite familiar with this quote. But even if you’re not the religious type, it holds truth. We are not put on this Earth to exist in our own bubble. Quite the contrary! It is your human responsibility to give back to the world and make it a better place.

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