It’s graduation season – time for inspiring speeches and words of wisdom from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and advocates. Three commencement addresses delivered over the past couple of years have caught the attention of getAbstract – and their core messages build on each other nicely:
Life will always throw you challenges, but sometimes, they can be devastating. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has learned about the depths of despair following her husband’s sudden death. In her 2016 commencement speech at the University of California, Berkley, Sandberg reminds graduates that learning to rise above life’s hardships is key to living life to its fullest. Handle setbacks wisely, and you will come out stronger and more resilient.
“The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Use your imagination
J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, knows adversity firsthand. Yet, as an unemployed single parent living on the poverty line, Rowling has unexpectedly discovered something very liberating about hitting rock bottom: It frees you up to take risks and pursue your true passion. For her, this meant starting to write.
In her 2008 Harvard University commencement address, however, she emphasizes that human imagination doesn’t just empower you to dream big. It also enables you to put yourself in other people’s shoes, recognize their suffering, and work toward a better world:
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.K. Rowling
Pursue your passion
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard University commencement address picks up where Rowling left off: Once you have identified your purpose, pursue it tirelessly. Zuckerberg provides three recommendations that will help young visionaries make a difference.
First, define your vision and rally others around your cause. Collect other people’s input to develop your ideas further and flesh out a concrete plan of action.
Second, advocate for social safety measures that will allow people from all socio-economic backgrounds to take risks without losing everything. Changing the world requires the input of as many entrepreneurs and visionaries as possible.
Third, recognize that most human problems today have no national boundaries. To implement your vision, start at the local grassroots level, but consider your activism as part of a global effort to improve the lot of all humankind.
“Purpose is what creates true happiness.” – Mark Zuckerberg