Quotes from historical leaders seem to be a popular source of inspiration for graduation ceremonies. JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” is a popular one, but often misquoted. Personally, I like Churchill’s “Never, never, never give up.” It’s hard to screw up that one.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a graduation event that included a slide show of each graduate’s baby picture juxtaposed with a ‘grown up’ picture. It was a sweet presentation, very well done, and brought to mind the many phases of child-rearing and parenthood–dreams and interests, successes and failures, triumph and tragedy. I cannot help but remember the many emotions experienced along the way–many of the worries and concerns that burdened us then may not have materialized in the young adults before us now. But, we still have not heard the end of the story.
School can be very easy for some, a struggle for others, and while grades, test scores and awards are an obvious measure of success to some, there is no measure for the internal effect of the school experience. The academic and social challenges experienced may often translate into grit and determination for success at the next level. Conversely, relative ease at one level may give the false expectation of ease at the next level. And unfortunately for some, the ‘glory days’ at this level may be the peak of achievement.
For parents who are confronted with your child’s struggles, and for parents who are basking in the glow of your child’s successes, I would say to both: the end of the story has not yet been told. There is a long time between third grade spelling and high school graduation…or college graduation….or successful entrepreneurship. You don not know what is on the path before you. What you struggle with now, does not define future potential–and what you glory in now does not ensure future success. Do not fall prey to the prevalent mindset that there is only one path to success or failure. Be careful that you do not let what is happening today, good or bad, cause you to lose sight of the end of the story. Never, never, never give up.