Tuesday, May 17, 2005
WFU Commencement 2005
Arnold Palmer: "Certainly, there are many things that I cannot fully comprehend, but there are still the absolutes that transcend place and time:
Hard work will always yield positive results.
Be fully aware of the world around you.
Act purposefully on your strongest perceptions, and then with no regrets.
Don't pass up opportunities that you perceive to be something of a gamble. I ran across a brief essay on that subject by a Chicago school teacher, who said: 'Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, IS nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love and live.'
Or, as Bill Gates once said on a similar occasion as this: 'Life is not fair. Get used to it. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. If you mess up, don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off, and few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.'
Once I was talking about improving one's golf game, but it struck me afterward that what I had just said applies to life as well. I'm talking about self-confidence. There is no way you can focus your mind and your efforts to succeed if you're brimming over with self-doubts. Your level of performance has a way of living up to prior expectations and, if you start off believing you're going to have a bad day, you will. Errors tend to multiply and, if you have a bundle of self-doubts, you won't be able to cope with the problems and the failure that will follow...
...I don't despair of today's young people. I just ask all of you to seek your places in the world, to accept the responsibility that is being placed on your shoulders. I appeal to you to try to restore a more kind and gentle atmosphere to this world of ours. Greed should not be our goal. If we continue to tolerate cheating, stealing, lying and violence, we will be on a path to self-destruction. Only through an all-out effort to get back to the basic values and virtues of humanity can we give future generations the quality of life our forefathers worked and sacrificed for to give us the standards of life we now enjoy in our time.
Family, friends, neighbors, home, church and community used to be vitally important to most Americans. Perhaps it's time to return to some of those core values.
You will soon be assuming parental roles, and I urge you to accept the responsibility that goes with it. Be the kind of parents who teach your children the basic traits and habits that make good citizens and good human beings. Teach them the common courtesies, good manners, politeness, and standards of behavior that will make each and every one of you proud.
So, please, go forth from your college careers armed with a determination to truly make our world a better place to live.
Tomorrow belongs to you."