It's that time of year when people are graduating or just graduated from some type of institution of learning. I'm reminded of several years ago when I was asked to offer the invocation at a technical school for a GED graduation ceremony. It makes it among my top personal favorite speaking engagements! Here's why:
- Every person who crossed the stage for their diploma radiated pure joy and pride in their accomplishment. It was obvious this had not been easy, they had worked hard and were beginning to now receiving some of the fruit of their labor. This labor meant a stronger possibility of more doors being opened for them.
- The students were a diverse group. Different races. Different ages. Men. Women. Yet all united in possessing pride in their work.
- The supporters were as enthused as the graduates. They were shouting and jumping as if the accomplishment of the student were their personal accomplishment. An observer could tell "who belonged to who" by the timing of their cheering, clapping, and smile filled faces.
- It was full of surprises. One of the best, was when an elderly woman slowly made her way across the stage and a large section of the crowd stood, bursting out with "We love you grandma!" And the whole audience along with those of us on the stage, stood to join the celebration. The celebration was infectious.
The Lessons I Learned at a GED Graduation Ceremony:
- When are hard work is acknowledged, we experience pride. When it is shared we experience greater joy.
- The joy and pride of accomplishment is something that transcends race, gender, age, socio economic status, physical abilities and limitations. We all want to accomplish something and do meaningful work.
- We never accomplish anything "big" or important to us without the support of others. Success doesn't not happen for an individual because of their individual efforts. There are always others, even if they are all "behind the scenes" of the success.
- I had been asked to participate in a way that "inspired" others...however, I learned once again, that when we give ourselves to inspire we find ourselves to be inspired. I'm not sure why that keeps surprising me!
- It doesn't matter what the "level" of learning is, as long as a person continues to be open to learning, there will be a sense of joy, pride and deeper relationships and meaning in their lives.
What are you open to learn? Who are the ones supporting your success? Whose success are you supporting? How have you celebrated your most recent learnings? And the "graduations" of others?