HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION
June 29th, 2016
A few months ago, my sister called me with a question - would I be available to come back to my high school to give the keynote address at their graduation ceremony in June?
“I’d love to,” I said. It felt good to be able to give back to my roots. And I figured, should be an easy one to do.
Flash forward to a few weeks back, the day of the grad ceremony - and I still wasn’t quite sure what I was going to say.
How do you inspire a group of 17 and 18 year olds? They don’t want to hear about my marketing theories. Probably only a handful will be pursuing business. My standard speaking points are thrown out the window.
I thought back to myself sitting in that crowd. What did I care about? To be honest, I can’t remember who my keynote speech was. I don’t even remember where we had the ceremony. All I can really remember is being excited for the next chapter of my life. For what was about to come.
I thought about all the places my life has been since that day. I wouldn’t take anything back or change a single thing, because without it all, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So I asked myself - if I could, what would I go back and tell my 18 year old self?
Sitting there at the age of 18, your whole life is in front of you. You have all the time in the world. But, time can move so quickly. And one day you are looking back like “whoa, how did I get here?”
University and college is a fairly set pathway once you choose your program. Take these courses, connect with these employers, get these types of jobs. Once you snag a job, the path of progression can also be paved - this is how you move up the ladder, that is what you should aspire to be.
If you are not aware of all this, your life can be shaped not by you, but by the current of the river in front of you.
So the #1 thing I would tell my 18 year old self?
Always have a perspective outside of your life. Make sure to take a step back and reflect on how your life is being shaped.
Figure out what it is you want to live for. This can be anything. You can live to be an entrepreneur. You can live to be the best damn plumber in town. You can live just to enjoy life and create a job that gives you the flexibility to do just that. The odd thing is, you are only going to figure this out more and more as you go and as you learn. And that’s ok, as long as you keep reflecting back on what you have learned and using it to fuel the next thing.
Get as many experiences as possible. It’s only when experiencing that you understand more about what it is you want to do and how you want to live your life. This can be travelling, meeting new people, or just trying different things. But you can only learn something by trying it. Don’t let fear be the reason you hold yourself back.
Take care of yourself. If you are not happy, if you are not in a good frame of mind, if you are not healthy, none of this matters. You wont be able to do your best at anything. Sleep well, drink lots of water, eat whole and stay fit.
Ultimately, the goal is to be happy with what you have every day. To create a life you are grateful for.
Don’t just follow the path someone else laid out for you - shape your own.
The best part? You're never too old to be 18 again.
*This post is an excerpt from the speech I gave to all the graduates a few weeks back. Congrats to all the grads!
Dave Corelli is Chief Strategy Officer of SportBox Group, a global entertainment agency with verticals in strategic marketing, personality representation, and event creation and ownership. Corelli oversees business and creative strategy globally for the agency, its clients, athletes and events. Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.