Graduation Speech for Class of 2022

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen / parents, relatives & friends of the Class of 2022 / Teachers / Staff / and most importantly, good evening to the Class of 2022.  What a tremendous accomplishment we are celebrating tonight.  Truly once-in-a-lifetime!  I am not going to talk about the past… to paraphrase one of my favorite books, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward.  Now that doesn’t mean don’t learn history or pause / reflect about the history of your education.  History is extremely important.  Memories are super important!  What I mean by this is … tonight, we should look at this moment as being one of the final moments we have to teach you about what can help you in the next 50-70 years!  Afterall, part of our job as educators for the last thirteen years (K-12) is helping your parents help you build a foundation for a flourishing adulthood.  Therefore, I want to talk to you Class of ’22 about the circle of influence (Thank you Dr. Covey) and the Law of the Inner Circle (Thank you Dr. Maxwell).

So, let’s start with the CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE… You are going to have four circles.  The outside circle is Organizational – you need to organize people (there will be a day when you are in charge of / responsible for a group of people; no doubt… I am confident that all of you will be leaders of a group:  family or a business or a classroom or a team.  Some sort of group).  Inside that circle is the Managerial circle – your responsibility to get a job done with others (usually people have a goal to get a project done). Inside these two circles will be your relationships and interactions with others and then the center circle will be Personal – your relationship with you (this is the key circle.  This is your “lighthouse” circle… lighthouses are like principles – they don’t move).

Let’s look at that center circle:  PERSONAL which can also be principles.  What we (teachers / staff) have done from K-12 has – I hope – helped you understand that having you at this center of influence, we don’t mean to be narcissistic.  This means that with you being the center of the circle, people are being influenced by who you truly are.  What we mean by having you at the center of the circle is … what principles you have / you are is going to impact / INFLUENCE OTHERS!!  Some questions to think about:  are you going to continually learn?  Are you going to be service-oriented?  Are you going to have a positive approach to life?  Do you truly believe in others?  Can you live a balanced life?  You are the pebble that hits the water, and the ripples are what ‘touches’ others.

In our culture, tomorrow you are adults.  Unlike the previous 17 or 18 years, you are going to be truly responsible for your life.  This is both exciting and scary.  One of the most important responsibilities is who you choose to be close to you.  Since you know that others need to be a part of your life, let’s look at the law of the inner circle.  When it comes to success, and all of us want you to be successful, in fact more successful than us .. Dr. John Maxwell says, “there are no Lone Ranger leaders.  If you’re alone, you’re not leading anybody.”

So here are the Inner-Circle Qualities (Thank you Dr. Maxwell):

Influential – Everything begins with influence. If you want to extend your reach, you must attract and lead other leaders
Networking – Who people know is just as important as what they know.
Nurturing – People who care about each other take care of each other.  Your inner circle should prop you up.
Empowering – The members of your inner circle should enable you to achieve more than you could alone.
Resourceful – Inner-circle members should always add value.
Character Driven – The character of an inner-circle member matters more than any other quality.
Intuitive – While every person is naturally intuitive in this are of gifting, that doesn’t mean everyone uses his or intuition.  As you seek members for your inner circle, rely on those who have learned to trust their instincts.
Responsible – Those closest to you should never leave you hanging.  If you ask them to carry the ball, they must follow through.
Competent – You can’t get anything done if your people can’t do their jobs.  You don’t need world-class performers exclusively, but all your inner-circle people must perform with excellence.
Loyal – Loyalty alone does not make people candidates for your inner circle, but lack of loyalty definitely disqualifies them.
Energetic – Energy covers a multitude of mistakes, for it helps a person to keep coming back, failure after failure.

Bottom line … from the moment this graduation ends, everything is going to be up to you.  Your life is your responsibility.  Accept the responsibility for your life.  Do not give responsibility for your life to someone else.  Everything is going to be at the center of your circle of influence.  I hope you will make every day better than the previous.  I hope you will NEVER compare yourself to others and always compare yourself to your principles.  Are you the person you want others to follow?  Would you follow you?

At every graduation, as corny as it is, you are the future of our nation.  I would add, you are the future of you!  What your future is going to be is what you are today and how you get better than yesterday.  Don’t be as good as yesterday… BE BETTER THAN YESTERDAY.

Go add value to someone’s life Class of 22.  Thank you for this honor and God Bless the Class of 22!!