This is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Graduate Commencement Address 

This is not a dress rehearsal. We live in a time; we live in a place where so many people are satisfied spectators in the great drama of life. Too many people are content to just sit on the fence, settling for pacing the sideline of life as casual observers while watching the drama of life unfold from a distant yet convenient vantage point, and, lately, I have found that some of these spectators are reluctant to lead from where they are, they wait and watch to see the direction that everybody else is going and then quickly get in front of the crowd.
There is something wrong with this picture because the drama of life demands that you stand for something, because what our world needs now are principled leaders, risk takers, change agents. I'm talking about folks who are searching for a new way, innovators who are committed to bringing significance to their work, standout citizens who are ready and willing to make us better.

What we need is right here today – people with the courage and audacity, persistency and perseverance to leave their mark in life. I am concerned that we have become a nation of self-centered, egomaniacs, the MMI's – me, myself, and I generation, where more and more people are concerned about what's in it for them, and they could care less about what we can do together and how we can make things better.

My search and find mission has yielded very few prospects who are ready and willing to fill the vacuum of leadership that America so desperately needs. I have found too many people who are content to just sit on their “assets.”

Today, the drug of choice for many people is denial, reality does not get the respect it once did. There are too many people convinced that the curtain will never go up. They are a satisfied lot going through life like a fish goes through water, leaving no visible trails behind. Too many people are busy, selfishly guarding the goods they have and could care less about the good that they can do.

I remain a hopeless optimist because I believe that that our future remains in good hands. I know, that this will demand courage. I will be the first to admit that it will require a good size helping of commitment. It's going to take a ton of self-discipline. Because if it were easy, we wouldn't need those attributes to succeed. If it were easy, it wouldn't be a challenge to succeed. If it were easy, everybody would do it all the time. I know that… but our journey must begin right here, right now, and right away. It must begin with individuals like you, and you, and you. People who understand the meaning of commitment and sacrifice, who know first hand the value of finishing what you start and setting priorities and goals higher and further than the human eye can see.

I would love to offer you much more advice than chew with your mouth closed, floss everyday, and go out and make the big bucks!

My appeal to all of you today is to dream with your eyes wide open, to stay focused on tomorrow, and to become true catalysts in the great drama of life.

I leave you some words to live by:

  • The difference between success and failure is really a matter of time.
  • Don't waste your life trying to do things right. Pay more attention to doing the right thing.
  • If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
  • Learn from the mistakes of others because you can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
  • You were all born originals, but most of us spend our lives trying to be copies - I urge you to stay original!
  • The future is not a place you are going but a place you create.
  • The future belongs to those that can see it.

Graduates, the curtain is about to go up and your lives will become visible once more in the floodlights of our world, so please remember and never forget that this is not a dress rehearsal.

Congratulations!