Sunday, May 18, 2014

To the Graduating Class of 2014: Bad News, Good News

Bad News. You are in debt. According to Pew Research, the average college grad is carrying $33,000 in student loans. Ouch!

Good News. During your work life, college graduates earn about 50% more than high school graduates.

Bad news. While technology keeps giving better value for the dollar, more bang for the buck, education seems to be going the opposite way. When I graduated from college, my degree probably carried me for 15 years. Today’s college grad will be lucky if their degree carries them for 2 years!

Good news. You’ve got the Internet.

Bad news. You are perceived as apathetic, disengaged, disinterested, bored, unmotivated and selfish.

Good news. Kindergartners are perceived as excited, energetic, curious, passionate, motivated and flexible. You can spend time with them and learn their secret!

Bad news. You’ve been taught to be professional, conforming and compliant. The world is rife with VUCAs (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity/Chaos, Ambiguity). How will professionalism, conformity and compliance help you deal with the VUCAs? How will professionalism, conformity and compliance help you deal with the zombies?

Good news. You don’t have believe everything you read or everything you think.

If it sounds like the world is against you, it is, especially if you are concerned about the food you eat, where it comes from, how it was produced and how it got to your table. The world maybe against you if are more concerned about fairness than greed. The world maybe against you don’t believe you are entitled. The world maybe against you if you are inclusive rather than exclusive. The world maybe against you if you believe women can lead as well, perhaps better than men. The world maybe against you if you believe women should be paid the same as men in a comparable job. The world maybe against you if you believe Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama and Pope Francis are not only worth listening to, but acting upon their wisdom. The world maybe against you if believe God has no favorites, desires goodness for all people. The world maybe against you if you believe love wins.

Here is my advice. Work to be more like kindergartners. Robert Fulghum was correct when he wrote, All I Really Needed To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Your attitude will impact your future. Get in the habit of practicing gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of your attitude. Be not only grateful for the education you have received at this point in your life, but be grateful for all the support you have gotten to get to this point. Be grateful for your failures and mistakes. Failures and mistakes have provided incredible lessons that will serve you well in the future. In this age of consumerism and living into Madison Avenue’s expectations, be grateful that you are one of kind and don’t need to be nor should you be like anyone else.

Here are a few things you need to know about the power of gratitude and how it may serve you going into your future.

Gratitude is rare virtue and discipline with many people. Gratitude is not popular because it requires self-discipline and practice. The practice of gratitude as lifestyle is much like eating correctly and getting regular exercise. Gratitude is about remembering. It is an affair with one’s heart and soul. Gratitude is a state of being and affirming the goodness in one’s life even when lying in bed with pain and illness. Gratitude connects us to reality and reminds us that there is more good in our lives than bad. Gratitude is the source of courage and critical thinking. To be truly grateful requires looking at one’s life fully and accurately. It is about being mindful.

We are wired to be negative. Our society is obsessed with what’s wrong and finding fault. A practice of gratitude invites a different obsession and frame of mind. Living into gratitude and practicing gratitude contributes to better mental health and satisfaction with life. Gratitude breeds empathy, forgiveness, and joy.

The bad news is there is plenty of bad news.

The good news, you can choose to seek good news and live into gratitude to impact your attitude to make a difference in a world that needs you!