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The Graduation Toast That Never Was

I was ready to go. Rehearsed, prepared and confident. I was going to blow the group away. My oldest daughter graduated from high school and there was a party in her and her good friend’s honor. My toast to the new graduates was going to be epic. I could already hear the complimentary commentary directed my way post speech. Most importantly, I would make my daughter proud with the thoughtfulness and wisdom of my words. And then ... I didn’t. Head fake. Like Steph Curry crossing up a defender ... the party took on a life and a rhythm of its own and my family and their friends enjoyed themselves immensely. The toasts fell off the agenda. No need for Dad’s wisdom on this night. Sorry buddy boy.

Have no fear, though, LinkedIn citizenry, I can still grace YOU with my pearls of wisdom! In the interest of value creation and learning, I do see the relevance of the toast to leading small and medium sized businesses and creating that leadership energy that drives achievement. Here we go!

Point 1: A Full Heart - I was more than prepared to explain my sincere level of thankfulness to our hosts, the friends who impacted my daughter, and for the experiences that shaped her. Effective leaders rarely miss a chance to tell their teams that their heart is full of gratitude. An authentic display of thankfulness with a specific narrative as to why never feels bad. And this is true for the speaker as well as the listener or to whom the gratitude is directed. Building up the relationship capital between human beings on your team is non-negotiable and serves individuals as well as the organization.

Point 2: Chrysalis - We are all in process. We are all on the way. And through this crucible of the last couple of years, we emerged from a chrysalis as something new. Words that should REALLY resonate with a graduating high school senior right? There are people in your organization that need to hear this same message from you. I came across the contents of a letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams in 1790 and her words capture this point sublimely, “ These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.” There were no microphones in 1790 but Abigail had a mic drop moment there.

Point 3: Friendship - Reid Hoffman delivered a delightful commencement speech to the Vanderbilt University graduating class last month. I listened aggressively as he spoke about friendship and the value of meaningful relationships. So cool. I used that as inspiration for my graduation toast and I was prepared to tell my daughter that friendships mark the time. As you reflect on life and its beautiful madness, there are friendships that are the markers in such times. I encourage surrounding yourself with those amazing souls who will celebrate you triumphs as though they were their own and get down in the mire with you when you are at a low point and need comforting touch or word of love and honest care.

Truth be told, I was able to share this with my daughter anyway and I cherished every second of the exchange. You don't' need a special occasion to share wisdom and energy!

Bring your energy to every encounter!

To Permanent Beta!

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