Larry Cassidy is a remarkable guy. Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work with Larry and four of his CEO or executive leadership groups in Orange County, Calif. At meetings, he sits at the head of the table. Observing. Listening. Paying close attention to detail.
When Larry speaks, his words are carefully chosen. They matter. A penetrating question. A wry comment. An impactful statement.
He challenges and inspires one to think. Ponder. Consider. Reconsider. And most important, take action. About their business and their life.
We’ve had the opportunity to yak in-person, over-the-phone, via e-mail and in his happenin’ convertible about lots of stuff: Biz, life, baseball, attitude, space and most recently commencement speeches.
In mid-July, Larry sent me something he had written on June 18, 2009.
As soon as I read it, I knew it deserved an even bigger audience.
Thankfully, Larry agreed.
It packs a wallop.
Whether you’re a recent college grad...
A young entrepreneur...
A veteran leader...
A savvy business pro...
Or, a human being, (of any age), trying to make a difference!
Here’s Larry Cassidy’s “commencement speech.”
Live so the world cries and you rejoice
When I told a friend that June would mark 50 years since graduating from college (from Miami University in southwest Ohio), he asked, “Are you going back for your reunion?” I shook my head, “No.
Don’t think I can swing it.”
He gave me a curious look, “Well, if you do go, any nuggets you’d pass on to the grads?” He smiled, adding, “Hard to believe it’s been 50 years. It’s so different now. I wonder if what we think would mean much to them?”
I thought about his questions. Etching wise advice onto today’s youth seems a seductive notion. And my friend was correct: Changes over the last five decades have been seismic, affecting how we connect with others and live our lives.
Yet despite that, I believe the fundamentals for living a life of significance haven’t budged. And, we ignore at our peril those essentials which nourish relationships and create the foundation for a noble life.
We learn early, cutting corners exacts a stiff price. So why not pass on these hard-earned lessons as helpful advice?
There’s good reason to pause: unasked advice from elders can land on the young as preaching. Now in my eighth decade, I have yet to welcome gratuitous counsel or relish being told what to do.
So as I suggest the blocking and tackling which I believe is essential to building a solid platform for your journey, I understand... it’s you who will make the final call.
On that note, I’ll start with two comments:
First, congratulations! You persevered and earned your degree.
Celebrate! You deserve it. Allow yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for a job well done. You now have evidence on your resume— you finish what you start.
Second, tall trees are anchored by strong roots. As are you. So be clear about who contributed to where you are today: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and counselors, to name but a few.
Those who set the high standards, demanded commitment, and urged you to reach higher and become more than you thought you could be. Take time to name them, find them and thank them.
Fifty years ago, I was a version of you: young, eager, hungry to test limits and excited to explore possibilities. Despite the uncertainty lying beyond your diploma, I urge you to consider that same quest.
Because what you see today will change tomorrow. The doomsday scenario — not finding a pay check or getting on with your career — will unwind. And, you’ll move forward to craft your life. As have the generations which preceded you.
So accept that neither timing nor luck pick favorites. You play the game with the hand you’re dealt; for you, it’s to climb on the economic roller coaster at a time of epic concern, the world’s financial system having been pounded by greed and excess.
As you do, you must decide how to navigate today’s dicey circumstances, without the aid of previous experience or reliable “experts.” No easy task, but you’ll manage it, as did your predecessors.
And as you do, you’ll build muscle required for the years ahead.
Consider these your butterfly days: As the infant butterfly beats its fragile wings, pushing through its sturdy cocoon wall, it develops the strength to fly.
As you beat your wings to escape today’s economic cocoon, you too will grow stronger. And in this process, you’ll also encounter opportunity: how to best use this time to prepare for an even more demanding future; lessons that’ll provide lasting value; and, how to seize the high ground that lies beyond your cocoon.
Years of study have equipped you with information, knowledge and technical skill, all important to success. Yet these assets, alone or enhanced with post-graduate work, are insufficient for a life of meaning and significance.
For that, you must define, then discard or develop, those capabilities which hinder or support you becoming the best version of yourself: first, behaviors to purge which hinder personal growth; and second, those to develop which provide a solid lifetime foundation.
In the early 1500s, Michelangelo sculpted the Biblical King David.
When asked how he created such a perfect likeness of David from a raw block of marble, Michelangelo answered, “I chipped away the pieces of stone which were not David.”
I ask you: What do you chip off your block?
Here are three “malpractices” I propose:
1. Lose the excuses and justifications. These are smoke screens deployed to justify oversight and unfulfilled commitment. Do not bite off more than you can chew. However, once you accept a task, “own” it and complete it as agreed.
Know also, in this complex world, good intentions and best-laid plans will go astray. Your choice is then one of character: do you deflect liability, or do you step up, own your failure, and put it right?
Choose carefully. These are the hard decisions which shape your reputation.
2. Do not wallow in yesterday or count on tomorrow. Lingering in the past or reliving previous setbacks will cost you valuable energy.
The importance of yesterday is written in what you apply today. Nor will expecting tomorrow to fix things play out any better. “Hoping” is not a strategy; and, tomorrow is forever a day away.
If you mean to achieve change and reach goals, focus your energy on today. Take action today. If you move the needle each day, be it an inch or a mile, you’ll be in position on the next day to launch from higher ground.
3. Give up the need to be right. Whether seeking status, control or self-esteem, the need to be right extracts far too high a price: It chokes off new input and options, and curbs the creative thinking vital to shaping better solutions.
Served up with emotional heat, the need to be right skewers relationships and erodes respect. Tame it or you will not be welcome in a team-oriented future.
Those are big stumbling blocks I suggest you discard.
Next week, Larry shares eight beliefs to help you be the best version of you.
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.