Respected Principal, dignitaries on the dais, and dear graduating students,
I am very happy and privileged to be part of your graduating ceremony. It brings back nostalgic memories to my heart as I think of that proud day when I stood where you are right now. Let me wish you all the best and thank the College Management who extended me the invitation to be here today.
Now let me share with you some thoughts on graduation day that I hope will help you in your career ahead.
There are milestones in life that we all cherish and draw inspiration from. Today is such a significant day in your life’s journey. You are about to step out into a future with many unknowns but holding unlimited possibilities and potential.
First and foremost have a thankful heart towards God who brought you this far in life. Be thankful for so many people–your parents, teachers, friends and many others whose positive influence, knowledge and encouragement made this day happen for you.
From now on it is a gifting back to society; a time to shine the light for those who follow; for those who need a word of encouragement; and for those who want to know that what they dream of can be done.
Now let me leave you with three thoughts that can shape your life, career and destiny ahead.
First of all, think about excellence.
I would like to bring to your attention what Vince Lombardi the legendary coach in American football said: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.”
Excellence does not come easily to anyone.
It comes through pushing yourself beyond your limits every time you perform.
It comes through persevering in the pursuit of your goals.
It comes from getting up from where you lie wounded to fight one more round.
So commit yourself to excellence. It is a decision that can change your life and career dramatically. When you are thus committed and excellence becomes a habit in all that you do; those who come to contact with you will respect you.
Secondly, think about professionalism.
What is it all about? It is a mix of many things. It is about unending enthusiasm for work. It is about attention to small details. Again professionalism is having integrity and honesty in your life and work. It is the ability to step beyond doing your duty just for the sake of pay cheque.
Professionalism is again about teamwork. You may not find everyone you work with pleasant or having the same likes and dislikes you have. It is your ability to get along with them and work in harmony that is going to make even dull routines come to life. So learn to cultivate the ability to get along with people.
And never forget to smile. Make happiness go around. Be at your best every day. Manage your personal struggles and domestic difficulties so that it never affects your work. To wrap it up, professionalism is your ability to inspire confidence in others by the way you think, communicate, work and behave.
Thirdly, think about work-life balance
So far I have been talking about your career alone. Let me now say something about how to live a beautiful life before I conclude. Today so much is being spoken about achieving work-life balance. And it is indeed an important subject indeed.
You should never forget your families as you build your career. Hold on to the right priorities. As Jesus Christ pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all the material things you need in life shall be given to you as well.*
So the simple starting point is “God first.”
The second in the list is “Family.”
And “Work” is the third component.
If these three come in the right order, it is not difficult to achieve work-life balance. Remember if the canvas is not there; the painting ceases to be!
Now it is time to conclude. My dear students today you are graduating College. It means that you are about to give wings to your dreams. It means that you are ready to face the challenges ahead.
Each day would bring us new challenges. You need to remember that all your training here was to equip you to face the challenges of your work bravely. To your surprise you will find that many of life’s situations are those your text books taught to you nothing about. But that is the way it is; and this where you seek wisdom from God to run life without derailing.
So do not run away from duty, but take up your responsibilities with courage. And if you ask me what courage is, it is not the absence of fear. But it is the ability to do right in spite of whatever is terrifying you.
So my dear graduating students, you now stand on the shore ready to go on a journey into the unknown. Congratulations graduating class and may you find your hands steady at the wheel even when the ship pitches and rolls.
And never forget the three things I shared today with you:
Strive after excellence;
and balance work and life well.