Congratulations, new graduates! You have just completed one of the most grueling and intense periods of your life. You probably had a fantastic graduation ceremony, an amazing commencement speaker and a personal celebration of your accomplishments. Now the uncertainty of your future gets to set in.
As humans, we spend a lot of time looking back on our lives, analyzing where we've been and why. Then we spend a lot of time wondering what our future holds and figuring out how to get there. The challenge is that the past is not always a clear predictor of the future. So even with all of our analysis and soul searching, there is still a place for risk taking, creativity and a unique approach to problems. This is where you come in.
Take, for example, Paul Arden's book, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be. He states that "Knowledge comes from the past, so it's safe. It is also out of date. It's the opposite of originality... Experience is the opposite of being creative." Having a fresh perspective will be extremely valuable in whatever role you take on next. Don't forget that.
You took a risk to get a degree -- the cost, the unknowns of the job market, the opportunity cost of not working while pursuing your degree and the total uncertainty of exactly how the future would bend to your dreams and desires. Don't forget to keep taking risks.
Paul Arden also has a quote that I love, and that transformed my life: "Risks are a measure of people. People who don't take them are trying to preserve what they have. Some risks have a future, and some people call them wrong. But being right may be like walking backwards proving where you've been."
I remember my first job after graduating with my Bachelor's in Economics. About two years into it, I had a fateful conversation with my manager about some new ideas I wanted to implement to attempt to gain more sales. His response was cautious and half-hearted: "Sure, write a plan and think outside the box!" Mind you, two months prior I had moved from Los Angeles to Jersey City and my 32-year-old brother, Andy Martin, had passed away from a rare form of cancer. I wasn't exactly in the mood for a pep talk. I wanted to just try something new -- even just once -- and see if it worked, without having to seek board approval (and this was from a company with less than 20 employees, I mean, come on!). My response to his advice was not enthusiastic. After the conversation I called a friend and told him, "I'm not going to get outside the box, I'm going to crush the box!" A new era of my life was born.
The point I want to make is that regardless of whether you have a bachelors or a masters, work experience or not, you have a unique perspective of the world. Yes, you have a lot to learn and there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but you may create a new way that is revolutionary or game changing. Don't just look to the future to shape your life, ask how your unique personality, beliefs, desires and passions can shape the world. Our future could depend on you!