“At that moment I was sure of only one thing: I was of no possible economic value to the outside world.”
Michael Lewis | 1960 - | American writer
We’ve got millions of college and high school graduates joining us in the work world (or hoping to) over the next several weeks.
3 things you might do to help them get their hearts and minds in the right place … sooner rather than later.
1. Make time for at least one graduate and have a conversation about some of the things you wish you'd known and done when you were just starting out.
Help them become aware of something earlier so they might
make one or two better moves that you did (sooner).
Encourage them to work hard and care more ( to be two-twelve) no matter what others might be saying or doing around them.
Help them understand that their work's purpose is ultimately to make good things happen for other people ... that the best chance they have at doing well will be by becoming valuable to someone else … focusing on how much they can give with their time rather than how little of their time they can give … surrounding themselves with good people and minimizing their time with Gomos and D-grunts.
Let them know this is how they'll increase their chance of having more choices in their lives (or put another way ... more control) on how they live (what they do for their work, where they live, what they eat, what they have) and how they enjoy their time (the people they spend time with, where they vacation, the hobbies they take on).
Consider a discussion around the importance of keeping their ego in check and working kindly.
2. Share an important talk or commencement speech.
I’ve probably watched and read more of these than most human beings should. I continue to find the ones below the most valuable … important less-obvious truths for the most part. I re-read these myself for inspiration once or twice a year.
Reading is always faster than watching and writers aren’t always the best speakers (unless they’re also a comedian or they happen to be a motivational speaker).
This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
15 minutes to read
This one's intense. So brutally good and true, I can't stand it. (Really.)
He reminds us of the true day-to-day responsibility of our lives. Read it yourself to be sure you're comfortable with it before forwarding it. Wallace lost his fight with depression, so you need to think about the potential effect that might have on your reader.
It’s all so good but for me, the best reminder is toward the end … “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” ( very Smovish and very Love Your People)
Don't Eat Fortune's Cookie by Michael Lewis
Under 10 minutes to read
This is a baccalaureate speech at Princeton where Lewis (who despite his feelings in the quote above, wrote several bestselling books - The Blind Side, Moneyball, The Big Short, etc.) “graduated from Princeton without ever having published a word of anything, anywhere.”
It's a wonderful reminder of how chance plays a big part in our lives. “And with luck comes obligation,” he says. I love the entitlement reminder toward the end, too.
The Love of Learning by David McCullough
Under 10 minutes
My favorite recommendation from McCullough is toward the end ... “And please, please, do what you can to cure the verbal virus that seems increasingly rampant among your generation. I'm talking about the relentless, wearisome use of the words, ‘like,’ and ‘you know,’ and ‘awesome,’ and ‘actually.’ Listen to yourselves speak.
Just imagine if in his inaugural address John F. Kennedy had said, ‘Ask not what your country can, you know, do for you, but what you can, like, do for your country actually.’”
Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz
Probably not a great one to start with for those with limited attention spans but it's wonderful insight on the importance of solitude and thought. It's a lecture that was given to a plebe class at West Point.
3. Encourage them to Cross The Line and become a Smover & 212er for their employer (and for their lives).
Give them a copy of one of my little books (each can be read in less than 20 minutes).
If I give only one, I give Cross The Line because it’s everything I’d share with them if I were sitting with them at a lunch ... and they can read it faster than I might continue to ramble). It addresses how to get by the 3 things that might challenge them in their efforts to make those good things happen … the real obstacles, ‘those people’ (especially those people), and the work. (Read a sample.)
But at times, I also give them my whole collection (I get a special deal, of course).
Maybe a framed Declaration of Contribution or Rise & Reach reminder for their desk would be motivating ... or a personal pocket card collection.
And two more inspiring workthings I love...
This video of Franics Coppola talking about how he worked through adapting 'The Godfather' from a novel into one of the best movies of all time. Talk about going deep!
And, these two videos from The New York Times about the creation of two of the biggest pop songs of the past couple years (The Middle and Shape of You … so much 212 and inspiring collaboration).
The making of The Middle… (your ears will have to wade through a sea of 'likes'… they obviously didn’t take McCullough’s advice above)…
The making of Shape of you…