Recently I attended SMU’s December Graduation ceremony where Gerald J. Ford gave the commencement speech. I didn’t know much about Mr. Ford, outside of him being a billionaire and due to a generous donation the SMU football stadium is named after him.
Do you remember who spoke at your commencement? I don’t. Gerald J. Ford doesn’t remember either. He shared with the graduates that they would most likely not remember him.
And while they might not remember him, might they remember his words?
Mr. Ford soon began casting pearls. In no time, I was fumbling to find my iPhone in efforts to take notes.
Here are 6 pieces of advice Mr. Ford offered to the graduates:
- Make a plan: Set specific goals, aligned with your key values. Continual review of the plan is critical.
- Be committed: You must be willing to make a huge effort. Effort triumphs intellect.
- Accept responsibility: Be objective with yourself. Most look to blame others.
- Associate with good people: Be deliberate and proactive in this pursuit.
- Accept bad news gladly: Don’t ever shoot the messenger. “The good news can wait until Monday. The bad news I want on Friday.”
- Under-promise and Over-deliver: There is no downside to this.
He then shared a thought from Warren Buffet that really stood out to me – “Being born in America is like winning the lottery.” He was empowering the graduates. Days after the speech, that stayed with me.
Approaching subsequent days with this gratitude mindset that I’ve already “won”, proved to be an effective motivational tool.
Getting present to the sheer amount of opportunity that is right at our fingertips, each and every day, can induce a state of awe.
I wonder if along the way Mr. Ford set goals not aligned with his values, blamed others, and associated with unethical people. Perhaps these experiences helped fuel the content for his “list of six”.
Our lists are being created, too.