With the Class of 2013 graduating in a matter of days, I thought it would be an appropriate time to look at some iconic graduation speeches in recent history. By the time graduation day comes along, the graduating class is seeking that one last piece of inspirational in their undergraduate career.Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College gave one of my favorite commencement addresses in 2011.
If you can find 23 minutes of free time, I strongly recommend watching it. With his great sense of humor and profound advice, he gave a truly inspiring speech. Conan briefly discusses his public dispute over loosing control over his dream career goal. He touches on the fact that he had lost something that was, for the longest time, his personal definition of ultimate success. He describes that instability of personal achievement by saying: “I did not get what I wanted…I went from being in the center of the grid, to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table, supporting the grid. It was the making of a career disaster, and terrible analogy.”
While still maintaining his sense of optimistic humor, he motivated students with his story of recovery. He warned them that their goals right now might not always be their goals, and encouraged them to try new things that may seem scary at the time. Conan stated, “There are few things more liberating in this life, than having your worst fear realized…It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a profound catalyst for profound reinvention.”
Conan O’Brien provides an amazing success story for graduates who are about to start out on an uncertain path. You’ll make mistakes…your life goals will change…but it all works out for the best. He assures all graduates to take a positive outlook on bad events. They will teach you to be resilient and bring you clarity in your life. Watch the video here.