Advice to the Graduate

It’s the time of year when students from all over the country don their funny-looking dress and hat and turn their tassel from left to right. Students are packing up their memories along with their moving boxes as they leave college behind and enter the “real world.” Graduates are inundated with a mix of emotions; elation, relief, nostalgia and anxiety all swirl together as these groups of young people prepare to take on the world. Yesterday, this mix of emotions was well known to the thousands of students who were graduating in the Big House at the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony. As these students sat awaiting the moment of graduation, leaders, teachers and friends shared their advice on how to make the best of their next stage of life. Two local business leaders, Paul Saginaw and Ari Wienzwieg shared some bits of advice that we thought were great reminders not only to new graduates, but to all of us no matter what stage of life.

Know Yourself

Ari reminded us of the importance of managing yourself. Knowing yourself and knowing how to find the balance between pushing, protecting and controlling yourself is a constant struggle that demands your attention. A large part of our ability to find success and happiness in our lives is to have a strong understanding of who we are and have a desire to always discover more about ourselves.

Keep Learning

Ari also discussed how this desire to learn, about ourselves and the world around us, is a driving force in our ability to find success and to continually grow and improve. He called us to not leave our desire to learn in the classroom, but to figure out how to bring it into our life at every stage.

Find Joy in Generosity

Paul spoke about the importance of joy and how it is a greater measure of our success than any other metric or quotient. Joy seeps into our being and gives us purpose and life. He adds that one of the greatest ways to harvest joy for ourselves is through generosity. I was struck by the story of his grandfather who believed that half of all you had belonged to others. Generosity in all its forms, in time, money or love, brings you joy and returns more than you give.

Stay True to Yourself

Finally, the two partners talked about the importance of staying true to yourself and challenging the world around you. They called us, as graduates and human beings, to carve out our own paths in the world; to infuse our unique mix of passions, quirks and talents into the world around us, creating an ever-changing, complex and beautiful masterpiece of individuals coming together.

Like painting a picture, they challenged us to create a vision of our lives; to imagine what our brush strokes on the world would look like. So how will you paint your picture?

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.