Commencement: 10 Tips for Pursuing Dreams

Here is a thought experiment: after a life-time of achievement you are invited by your Alma mater to give a commencement address.  How can you achieve this respectable milestone, and what do you say?

“Dream Big, Think Big, Be Big”  Dan Pena (The 50 Billion Dollar Man)

Giving commencement address for any university is a lofty goal. This is a “shoot for the moon” goal which motivates change for personal, professional, family, and community life.

How I will get there:

  • Be excellent at public speaking
  • Be a leader of leaders in my field
  • Have impact; contribute and change the world
  • Give back and hold community presence
  • Be invited to speak

If I had to give this speech today, I might say the things below. Over time I’d like to replace all the examples with my own stories. The content is dense.

1. Use Your Brain

Every one of mankind’s creations began as a dream inside the most powerful machine ever made: the human brain. This is ultimately your best asset; use it! When did you last give yourself time to think? Many of us forget that we have amazing powers of creativity and resourcefulness. In any bored moment we seek the comfort of our social media feed.

Brendon Burchard says “The time to have the map is before you enter the woods.”

And, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey teaches the importance of being proactive.

How much time do you spend thinking and planning vs. reacting to what gets thrown at you? Stay on the attack. Play some offense; a good offense is the best defense.

2. You are a walking power plant.

Your body generates remarkable amounts of energy, both physical and emotional. Generate tons of happiness, and you begin to notice a difference in the things that you do.

Aspire to generate enough energy to come home from work and throw the football around with your kids and still have some left in the tank to tinker in your garage.

What lifestyle changes need to happen to be your highest self?

3. Lay One Brick At A Time

Success and recognition is wrought from steady and sustained growth. Always do better than last time, and always fail in new ways.

Tony Robbins said,

Successful people are rewarded in public for things they’ve practiced for years in private.

Stay focused and stay on course. Rewards from long-term gains are much more powerful than those from instant gratification.

Will Smith tells an incredible story (or he’s just a good actor):

You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m gonna build the biggest, baddest wall that’s ever been built. You lay one brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And soon, you will have a wall.

4. Build awareness and build momentum.

I was fortunate to be taught by the greatest music teacher of all time, Mr. Warren Torns. Mr. Torns taught me something that stuck:

You lose 1 week of progress for every 1 day you skip practice.

Be mindful and aware of your ability. As momentum builds, sense it. Keep pushing and don’t float by. The effort you put in works like compound interest. Eventually it blows through the roof.

5. Be Unreasonable 

Tune out the naysayers. Recognize that most successful people started out with unrealistic ambitions.

You are 1 of 7 billion people on one planet in a vast universe of countless stars and planets. No one will know if you fail to achieve your biggest hopes and dreams. Get up and try again from a new angle, all angles.

Don’t make game plans, make war plans. Today you’re going to war to solve a problem. Call in the navy, infantry, air force, cavalry, artillery, etc. If at first you don’t succeed, try something new. If everyone else is fishing with a pole, you should be fishing with dynamite.

You have to desire success more than you fear failure. — Unknown

6. Don’t Burn Out

Spend time on yourself. Align the values in your private life with your family, community, and professional lives. Maturity means emotional mastery and responding to negativity with grace.

Exploration is a basic human need. Explore your universe, explore music, explore new hobbies, meet new people, travel.  Instead of buying a video game, plan a vacation.

As Tony Robbins teaches, create your own “hour of power”. Practice gratitude exercises every night before your sleep to train your subconscious mind to know optimism.

7. Take the high road

Be Unique, and Be Yourself. Do things differently than the rest of the pack. Don’t go with the flow. Swim upstream. If you work in software: tackle the bugs everyone else is afraid of.

As Les Brown quotes the bible and says:

“The road to life is straight and narrow, and few there be that find it. In this world of increasing change, complexity, challenge, and competition you must be willing to do things others won’t do in order to have things tomorrow that others won’t have.”

Challenges are excellent way to shock your mind and muscles. Shocking your muscles is Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s secret to rapid growth. I believe it works for your mind, too. Challenge your mind to keep constantly  growing. Develop physical, mental, and emotional fitness.

8. Change your mind and say “I don’t know”.

Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence. The world is a dynamic place and new information becomes available all the time. Sometimes you may take a risk or decide not to. If the same opportunity presents itself again and more clearly it doesn’t make sense to ignore it out of fear of being judged for flip-flopping. Use the second chance to get it right! Don’t let pride get in the way, and make sure you enough in your emotional bank account to take ego hits.

Your emotional bank account is more important than your financial bank account. – Dan Pena

Admitting you don’t know all the answers takes courage. People in the room know more, have more experience than you. No one person can be more creative and more knowledgeable than the collective group. It’s okay to not know the answer. Don’t fool yourself by claiming that you do and getting wrong. It wastes everyone’s time.

9. Question Yourself

Know the important questions and use them to check yourself constantly

  • What would I do if I were not afraid?
  • What should I be thinking about right now?
  • Is my brain engaged today?
  • Am I being my highest self right now?
  • Am I fully present in this moment?

10. You are what you eat

We live in an age of information overload. Information is food for your brain. If you watch a lot of junk on TV, it will clog you up. Aim for quality over quantity.  Learn to eat and excercise in ways that boost your mental abilities. Your brain needs fuel, and your body needs movement.

Ask yourself what information helps you reach closer to your dreams & goals. Everything else is a distraction; it gets in the way. Unsubscribe from everything. Put yourself on an information diet, and improve your focus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s