Follow Your Own Inner Compass

I’ve never wanted to be famous.  I know that sounds weird, but It’s just not something that has ever been a goal of mine. I’m sure that there are many advantages to being famous but it has always seemed more trouble than it’s worth.  However, there is one perk that I think would be really cool, and that’s being invited to speak at a college graduation.  

 It’s something I’ve thought about ever since I heard the famous “Wear sunscreen” speech, remember that one?  Even the article starts out by saying that “inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out” and that’s definitely true of me, especially in the last ten years that I became a college coach. A big foundation of coaching in general is supporting people to find what most inspires and motivates them to define and achieve their goals and when you combine that with working with young people in this way AND that it’s graduation month it seems a particularly fitting time to carpe diem my long time goal of standing up in front of an entire group of young adults, poised to go out into the world and share words of wisdom about all that lies in front of them. So, if you’re reading this, I thank you for indulging me!

 I haven’t quite worked out all of the details yet, I would hope that I’d begin with an attention-grabbing introduction followed by some witty anecdotes. I also know, that like my favorite TV character, Gibbs on NCIS, that it would be based on a set of rules (or actually guidelines would be more my jam) that are there to provide support and direction if needed, each one building on the next.  A built-in GPS system or an old-fashioned compass, if you will. 

Graduating seniors -I share with you, my directional guidelines for navigating your journey:

There’s no such thing as a wrong choice. Life is a series of choices. You started to realize that when you made your first big choice of where to attend college.  It no doubt felt super scary to make such a big decision but you did it.  Maybe some of you didn’t start here as a freshman and chose somewhere else to begin, but it got you to where you are today.  Remember, it isn’t always a straight line from point A to point B. You may run into a roadblock, take a seemingly wrong turn or you may choose to take a detour, but there isn’t a wrong choice.  If you remember that FAIL means “first attempt at learning” it will remind you that each choice leads to experiences that provides you with feedback and information that will help you make the next choice and the one after that.  It led you to where you are today. And it helps to strengthen the next directional guideline, which is….

Trust yourself. You know you best, I promise you that you do.  Even if a situation is new or scary, you’ll know if it “feels right” and you’ll know enough to make that first decision. Plus, as mentioned in the first guideline, even if it’s not the best one, it will give you information to help you choose the next part of your journey.  As you continue to listen to your “inner voice”, it will give you the confidence to know how best to evaluate the decisions you make and weigh the input and feedback from those choices, as well as the guidance you receive from others. 

Try not to “should” on yourself.  You didn’t think I’d send you out with JUST Rules 1 and 2 without a parachute, did you?  Well, here it is.  If you find yourself saying that you “should” do this or that, take a moment to check in with yourself and that inner voice. Feeling like you “should” do something may mean that the motivation is from someone or something else, not you. Not that this is always bad it just means it’s a good time to take a moment and check in with yourself as to how YOU feel about it and then utilize the 4thguideline. 

Find a mentor (or two) along the way.  A great way to strengthen inner voice, build that ability to trust yourself and make sure that your GPS coordinates are set on “choose to” vs “should” be to have someone who has “been there, done that” to check in with and bounce ideas off of. This quote: “Consider the advice of others, but trust yourself in the end.” Summarizes this perfectly. No doubt you’ve already had several mentors along the way from teachers you’ve connected with to coaches who took the extra time to share their experiences. Studies show that it’s one of the six factors in creating a successful college experience and it’s helpful personally as well as professionally. 

Wear sunscreen. As with the four guidelines above, this is one that will serve just as fully now as it will years and years from now.  Plus, it can’t be reinforced enough!   

And I’d probably close with one of my favorite quotes that sums up these guidelines beautifully:

Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs

And please don’t forget the sunscreen!