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5/29/16blog post

the 4 traits of a successful graduation speech

University student cap mortar board and diplomaI’ve never been asked to give a graduation speech, but I have one ready in the unlikely event I’m ever invited to speak about the science of success. Here’s what I’d say.

As most of you have discovered, loving adults in your life like teachers and parents have mislead you into thinking that following your passion is the key to success. They’ve told you about the importance of 'being yourself' and 'following your dreams.' You know by now this is pretty silly advice.”

Here’s what you can learn from the science of psychology about what successful people have in common.

1. Talent. It doesn’t really matter if you want to be a musician or engineer. What does matter is aptitude. You know that you have great abilities in some areas, but not in others. You are wasting your life pursuing a career in an area for which you have modest talent. Stop dreaming and start focusing on what you are good at doing.

2. Persistence. Life is all about how we deal with minor frustrations and major setbacks. Life’s losers whine and blame others. Successful people maintain a positive attitude, learn from failure and continue to work hard. They have a strong sense of gratitude for the many positive things that happen to them every day. They appreciate what they have rather than lament what they don’t.

Here is the key to achieving this critical trait. Surround yourself with people who are pleasant, positive, and genuine. Avoid the toxic atmosphere of blamers and complainers.

3. Conscientiousness. This means being attentive to what’s really important. Take good care of yourself. Exercise. Sleep. Eat well. Say what you mean. Follow through on promises. Most importantly, become incredibly conscientious in your relationships with others.

There is nothing more important in life than the relationships you develop with friends and family. They help give meaning to everything you do. Work at those relationships. Conscientious people are mindful that small things can have a big impact on others.

4. Self-control. Successful people have skills in delaying or avoiding something that they want now for the sake of something better later. Listen carefully to a friend, rather than reacting immediately. Be careful of the seductive and addictive potential of the digital universe. Never look at your cell phone when you are talking with others.

Graduation speeches typically end with an inspirational quote. Here’s mine. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.”

Figure out how to “adjust your sails” when bad things happen and you’ll have a successful life!