This past weekend consisted of a whirlwind of events. Scratch that; it was a marathon. Over the course of several days, I had the pleasure of celebrating family and friends by attending graduation ceremonies, dinners, bachelorette parties and bridal showers, not to mention Mother's Day brunches and barbecues. I participated in all of the fun events and then during my drives along the 405/110/10/210/605/5/73 freeways, I ruminated on all of the life lessons and inspiration to be derived from the company that surrounded me.
Looking back on it all, the most powerful event actually occurred at the very beginning of the weekend at the commencement ceremony for the University of Southern California. The keynote address was given by Christiane Amanpour, and she managed to captivate as well as inspire the entire crowd of 40,000 with her story. Instead of recapping her 30-minute speech, I am simply going to list the most impactful takeaways and hope that they make you smile, open your eyes, and move you to stand a little straighter as you walk through the world.
1. Everything happens for a reason, including failures. Christiane failed her medical board exams and had to pick a new career after her dreams of being a doctor were shattered.
2. Work hard and don't feel entitled. You might need to fetch coffee or dry cleaning when first starting out, but darn it, be the best assistant on the job. Christiane began her career as an intern with a young broadcasting station dubbed "Chicken Noodle News" by the industry. Today, we call that station CNN.
3. Strive for success, but know that it doesn't happen overnight because it takes time and diligence. Christiane has been in the business for over 20 years.
4. You will need to work your way up the corporate ladder. So do your best to enjoy every rung because the journey is what will define you.
5. Once you get to the top, do not become a power-hungry dictator and egocentric. Instead, look back at your journey and respect those now climbing a similar path.
One last note, although I cannot recall if it was part of Christiane's concluding remarks or simply a theme from the many speakers throughout the day, but make sure you pay it forward. The student speaker prior to Christiane taking the stage told the crowd that those with a bachelor's degree are some of the most educated people in the world. Opportunities will abound for those that work hard and life will move faster than we anticipate. At some point, we are called to look back and acknowledge those that supported us and granted us opportunity. We need to pay it forward by offering that same support and opportunity to the generations behind us.
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