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Michael’s Graduation

Why I'm glad I spent 3 long hours at a High School graduation ceremony.

It’s been a long time since I went to a graduation ceremony. So last night, going to the High School graduation of a family friend, I had a vague notion of what I was in for: boring speeches and embarrassingly proud parents.

Although I was not disappointed on either count — the ceremony was 3 (mostly) excruciating hours and the way the family next to me screamed you’d think their child was deaf — I was very happy that I went.

Two things struck me the most. First was the beauty of these young people in their simple white dresses and white dinner jackets (this school’s tradition), struggling with this amazing mix of emotions — pride, uncertainty, joy, embarrassment, confidence. I left that night feeling immensely hope-filled.

The second was something one of the speakers said. Bruno Dammizio, founder and CEO of the Information Consulting company DMC Inc., and an alumnus of this High School, addressed the graduates as port of the academic scholarship he gave. As a successful entrepreneur he took a moment to offer advice to the graduates. He said “If you only do things that you’re good at, you won’t do much.”

Now if my young friend wasn’t too impressed with this, it certainly struck a chord with me. Taking risks is often what separates the mediocre from the wildly successful. In life, as well as in business, regrets are almost around things we didn’t do, not things we tried to do. Risks become the stories you tell your children and grandchildren.

Taking risks, leaving your comfort zone — these are all brave statements, and often I’m not feeling so brave. But today, I have the example of my young friend and his classmates who last night displayed all those things in such an amazing way. And in reflecting on it this morning, I realize that the only way to really fail, is to never try.

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