Eight Suggestions for my College Graduate

My oldest son is graduating this week from the University of Maryland at College Park. My cup is running over with emotions. Let me take a moment to brag. One degree wasn’t enough for Zach. He will be accepting 2 Bachelors of Science degrees from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, one in finance and one in accounting, with a 3.6 GPA and numerous awards. He truly maximized his college experience, including being accepted into Honors College, joining a fraternity, running College Mentors for Kids, participating in numerous internships and clubs while finding time to have a girlfriend and keep himself in shape. Zach committed himself and accomplished a lot in 4 years. I could not be more proud.

As the college chapter is ending, another is about to begin. After a short break, Zach will start a career with Fannie Mae in D.C. He is almost off the “parents payroll” which is great news for my bank account. Before I officially cut the paternal apron strings, I want to remind Zach of a few suggestions I made when he graduated from high school. I also added a couple of new ones. I hope he shares this with his friends, but I will be lucky if he reads it himself.

  1. Strive to live life without regrets. Don’t live your life in the past by asking what could have been if you made a different decision. Instead, take time to make sound decisions and move forward without regret.
  2. Make time to celebrate the milestones. Many people fixate on the goals and don’t make time to acknowledge the accomplishments along the way. Find time to celebrate the milestones and do not fixate on the result. In life you will achieve many milestones. Make it a point to acknowledge those achievements when they occur and, by doing so, you will fuel the next achievement.
  3. Continue to set a high bar. When you entered high school, you set aggressive goals for yourself including being in the Top 25 of your graduating class and playing varsity baseball. When you entered college, you set even higher goals and you accomplished them. These are tremendous accomplishment. Continue to set your goals high and you will maximize your potential.
  4. Strive to surround yourself with achievers. Growing up, you accumulated an amazing group of friends. They achieved success inside the classroom, in sports and clubs, and in their community. Continue to surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you. As sales guru Jeff Gitomer said, “Don’t let anyone rain on your parade.”
  5. Does it pass the grandma test? When you’re on the fence about doing something mindless and dumb, or considering posting something on Twitter that is questionable, take a moment to ask yourself if you want to explain your actions to grandmother the next time you’re together. If the answer is no then you may not want to do it.
  6. Give yourself permission to fail. You have to experience failure in order to appreciate success. Mistakes are a part of learning. One of my mentors, Marvin Kaulkin, used to tell me the only people who don’t make mistakes are those people who don’t take any chances. Take chances in life, learn from your mistakes, and you will achieve great successes.
  7. The quest for your purpose is not a straight line. Life coach and successful author Jon Gordon smartly stated that the quest is filled with mystery, signs, obstacles, victories, dead ends, delays, and detours. Your job is to stay optimistic and faithful on your quest.
  8. Find happiness. Happiness is achieved when you have balance in your life. For me, the ingredients include good health, quality family time, strong friendships, a strong sense of community, and a challenging and rewarding profession. Find your own balance and you will find happiness in life.

On your graduation day, I will be shedding a few tears. They will be tears of great joy and great pride. Don’t let me wipe them away quickly. I want to continue to gloat.