It’s that time of year when students of all ages are graduating on to bigger and better things. In my family alone, we have three graduations in as many weeks.
After a couple of decades of being out of school, my sister just completed her Master’s Degree in Student Leadership. Her daughter is finishing her last week at SCAD and will be heading out to California to start her creative career with a hat maker. And my nephew just graduated from Illinois State University and is on his way to Wyoming with his girlfriend to experience a summer working at Yellowstone.
Oh, the thrill of the open road and a new chapter!
This is the promise of new beginnings. Anything is possible.
The reality is that new beginnings are available to us at any time, although we sometimes need a little pomp and circumstance before we’re officially ready to roll.
I prefer to start without the fanfare.
I tend to launch before I know what I’m getting into.
Because if I knew what would be required of me to do half the things I long to do, I’d never do them.
It’s too daunting.
The learning curve is too steep.
If I knew how ridiculous I would feel prior to feeling fabulous or smart or trendy, I would never conjure up the courage to connect or create in all the ways that really light me up.
If I knew how much time, energy, and effort would be required to learn something people half my age were born knowing, I’d be tempted to use the “I’m too old for this” excuse.
But it’s that attitude that ages us faster than anything else.
The thing is, before we can get there from here, we have to go through the I-have-no-idea-where-I-am-or-what-I’m-doing place. No one talks about this place because once we get where we’re going and know what we’re doing, we often erase limbo land from our memory.
It’s human nature to want to forget our ineptitude or gloss over the obvious errors in our thinking or the epic failures we didn’t anticipate.
But these often make the most memorable stories and become the beginnings of our greatest adventures.
Countless success stories start with the adventure that went awry, the chance meeting that wouldn’t have happened if all had gone as planned, or the random recalculating of an accepted hypothesis that resulted in a scientific breakthrough.
There is an urgency about getting to the Promised Land, wherever that may be. We want to start out making top dollar. We want to instantly become an internet sensation. We want everyone to know our name. We want to succeed in business without really trying.
But there is a necessary learning curve. This is that magical time when we are humbled and frustrated and overwhelmed and filled with uncertainty that’s only occasionally sprinkled with awe and amazement and enthusiasm about what’s possible.
It’s this grace period when we get to fly under the radar, make mistakes, and hone our craft before we get pummeled by public perception.
It’s when we realize how lucky we are not to have our dreams realized before they are fully formed.
I recently came across a book titled “What’s In The Way, Is The Way.” This echoes the idea we’ve been tossing about in my coaching program that the life we’ve lived so far, with all its trials and tribulations, has provided the precise experiences we need to succeed.
Whatever impeded our journey informed our journey and placed us in the perfect position to offer the unique contributions we can today.
So, graduates, as you saddle up and ride off into the sunset, remember it’s the detours, flat tires, the missed turns and the learning curves they afford that hold the real gifts.
I have no doubt you will get to your Promised Land with the flair and finesse that only you possess. Just remember to embrace with grace the path that leads you there.
I’d love to hear what you are graduating from at this juncture in your life. Please leave your comments, insights, or advice for fellow graduates of all kinds in the comments below.