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For High School Grads, the Rocky Road to Success Begins Now

This time of year inspires much hope, and graduations play a big role in that. Students are leaving a huge part of their lives behind, ready and equipped for that next step. And while messages of “conquering the world” or “doing anything you put your mind to” are heartwarming and empowering, they don’t fully relay the messages we should be sending to our teens.


Life is challenging, as it should be, full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Life will push you to your limits and broaden your perspectives.


The path to success is not a line easily treaded. Rather success is defined by how you overcome adversity and learn from your experiences.


So with this thought in mind, I wanted to share the advice I give to my graduates:


• Don’t forget your manners. About the time you learned to talk, your parents probably started teaching you manners. Please and thank you became major parts of your vocabulary. These manners should not disappear when you leave the house. You can still be a ruthless businessman or the toughest teacher if you are kind. And be kind to everyone even if you think they are “below” you. When someone comes in for an interview in my office, I listen to how he speaks to our office manager or other staff. I do the same with clients. This tells me quite a bit about how you interact with others. And in life, we want to spend time those we like.

• Accept that life is full of failures and disappointment. Don’t sweep these under the rug. Embrace them. Learn from them. Use them to launch you to greatness.

• Ask for help. There is very little that you can do all on your own. Somewhere somehow, someone can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Doing so is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength. The best teams are built of people who have different strengths that get pooled for maximum results.

• Pursue your non-professional interests. You may want to be a doctor, but your life does not have to revolve around science. You may want to be an artist, but there has to be more to your life than your art. The most interesting people in life pursue many endeavors. Doing so will expose you to a more diverse group of people and friends, give you unique opportunities, and most importantly, bring you happiness and fulfillment.

• Learn to face conflict. Human beings are irrational and selfish beings by nature. These tendencies cultivate conflict. Learn to meet it head-on. Study leadership styles and effective communication. Often, conflict can be handled with a few simple words or easy negotiation. Practice patience. And in escalated situations, remember to ask for help.

• Pick your battles. Avoid unnecessary conflict. Stay away from the petty fights and issues that simply suck up your energy so you have the tolerance for issues that really matter to you. This might mean being choosy with your friendships and time. That is OK. Your time is undefined but finite. Use it well.

• Spend less time online and more time “in life.” It is great to see what your friends all had for dinner, but it is even better to have an amazing conversation with a new or old friend. It is nice to have pictures of all the cool places you have been to, but it is better to immerse yourself in those experiences so you build memories rather than photo books. Experience life rather than just living vicariously through a screen.

• You can do anything you put your heart and mind to. It is just going to be harder and more fulfilling than you can imagine. Graduating from high school will be one of the easiest things you will do in life. That does not mean you did not work hard. You did. But every step is in preparation for the next. Every step (including the backward ones) will push you closer and closer to your dreams. So dream big, but work harder. Imagine a life of possibilities and then prepare yourself for the journey.


Congratulations to the class of 2018. You are closing one chapter of your life only to have the rest of your life to look forward to. Enjoy every moment along the way.


All the best,

Team Insight 

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