By John Pierce
Often graduation speeches can be nap inducing. But I heard a couple of good ones last week at the University of Georgia where my daughter wrapped up her undergraduate studies.
First, entrepreneur Marc Gorlin spoke to the graduates of UGA’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He shared how the communication skills learned in the journalism school helped in creating successful, multi-million-dollar businesses.
Just when I thought a “win at all cost” story was unfolding, he told of putting his company-starting career on hold for several years to care for his grandmother — from age 94 to her death at 100.
My eyes became misty when he recalled his two children taking their great-grandmother trick-or-treating — pushing her wheelchair down the street after they had turned her into the full likeness of Cruella de Vil.
Among the wisdom he shared was the importance of being inquisitive.
“You don’t have to have all the answers,” he told the young graduates. “Just focus on asking great questions.”
He used humor (and saltier language than usually heard in such settings) — and even threw in a story from mega-church preacher Andy Stanley.
Perhaps most helpful was his clear reminder that success often follows failure. Therefore, he urged, don’t worry about doing everything just right — just be sure you’re doing something.
“Perfect,” he said, “is the enemy of done.”
Good Morning America news anchor Amy Robach addressed the larger university graduating class. Marking 20 years since she was a journalism grad there, Robach offered professional and personal advice based on her experiences as a journalist and a breast cancer survivor.
When she talked about the responsibility and privilege of telling other people’s stories it make me glad that my own career, on a much smaller scale, had turned to journalism more than 20 years ago.
And it made me hopeful that my daughter and the thousands of other graduates would find their own meaningful vocational courses in a fast-changing world.
Robach urged her listeners to “worry less — it’s a wasted emotion.” And she, too, called for a course in life that makes room for errors.
“Make mistakes often and embrace them…” she said. “It’s the only way we learn.”
Graduation is the end of an academic journey but not the end of learning. That’s true for all of us.
I guess that’s why it’s called commencement. Graduation — like messing up — is about the beginning rather than the end.
Those of us compelled by the gospel of Jesus should know all about messing up and moving on.