You’re a graduate, now what? – Part 2

My previous article (You’re a graduate, now what?) was greeted with such enthusiasm. Feedback messages filled my email. Facebook feedback was massive. Many urged me to share more from my well-worn scrapbook. So here are some more gleanings aimed at the new graduates.

First, think big. Act big. Dream big. Every human being is created with immense inherent value. You are no exception. It is up to you to make that inherent value manifest. By way of illustration, look at this example. One bar of Iron is worth $5. When it is made into a horseshoe it is worth $10.5. When needles are made out of the same bar of iron its value is $3,280.

But alas when the same bar of iron, which in its raw form is worth only $5 is transformed into balance springs for watches its worth trebles to an amazing $250,000!

Millet, the French painter, bought a yard of canvas worth 25 cents and a brush plus paint worth 50 cents and put his biggest vision in motion. The result was the great painting known as “The Angelus” worth $105,000! Ask yourself today, what effort are you willing to exert to refine your body, your mind, your social network and your soul in order to enhance your value to its maximum?

Second, be honest. Honesty has become vulgarised today. The word has lost meaning. Some people stretch it to the extent of thinking honesty includes being honest about their dishonesty. So when I exhort you, to be honest, I am not talking about the negative virtues of not lying, not cheating, and not stealing. I am calling for a bold, direct, and open stand for truth, as we know it.

Shakespeare in his play Hamlet wrote: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night day, Thou canst not be false to any man.”
Sir Walter Scott wrote: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice deceiving.”

Deception starts with self-deception. You can never deceive others without first deceiving yourself for deception is a double-edged sword.
Third, live with enthusiasm. If human beings were flags then I would say the majority of them are flying at half mast. There is no middle way. You are either enthusiastic or you are not. You can’t take it by the spoonful. It must permeate all areas of your life – carry you forward; protect you; inspire you.

Here is a poem about enthusiasm by Samuel Ullman. No matter your age, read it and internalise it: “Youth is not a time of life. It’s a state of mind. It’s a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm, wrinkles the soul.

Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these bows the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whether 60 or 16, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and the star-like things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next, and the joy of the game of living.

You are as young as your faith; as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence; as old as your fear; as young as your hope; as old as your despair.

So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the wires are all down, and all the central places of your heart are covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and only then, are you grown old indeed, and may God have mercy on your soul. Live every day of your life as though you expect to live forever.”

By Norbert Mao


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