Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Some words of advice about what graduates didn't learn in school
This weekend marks an important milestone for thousands of students throughout New Hampshire - high school and college graduation time. By the time the Sunday News is published, thousands of Granite State students will have participated in graduation ceremonies, received their diplomas and likely attended celebrations organized to acknowledge their accomplishments.
To all of the graduating students reading this column, congratulations! When it comes to freedom and independence, you can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Most high school graduates have plans to continue their education and attend a university. Those finishing their higher education are searching for their first career opportunity. Regardless of what you have planned, the reality is that life as you know it will begin to change drastically.
I'm sure you're tired of adults giving you advice. You had some accomplished speaker at your graduation ceremony talking about everything you should and shouldn't do. Your parents and family have likely been doing the same for the last several years. I'm sure you picked up a few ideas along the way, but you likely have a sense of what you're up for as you transition into the real world.
I've been invited to speak to high school students at several schools over the last few years. I always use the opportunity to share my life experiences and shed some light on all of the things I was never taught but learned along the way. So, take it for what it's worth. But I can promise you one thing. This is real life.
You are entitled to nothing
Some people have a mentality that they are entitled to certain things in life. They have unrealistic expectations on what to expect and what they will be given. Here is the reality. You are entitled to nothing. Everything you get from this point forward will be directly related to your attitude, how hard you work and how you perform. Don't expect or search for handouts, because they won't happen.
Working hard is required
If you want to be successful in life, working hard is required. Get used to early mornings and late nights because it's your new reality. Your social life and having fun needs to be at the bottom of your priority list. Now is the time to work hard, become an expert in the career you choose and go above and beyond to get ahead of everyone else. Go the extra mile with everything you do, and I promise, good things will follow.
It's a competitive world
There are a lot of smart people in the world, and there are a lot of other people who will be competing for the job and career you want. You have to differentiate yourself and work harder and smarter than everyone else if you plan on being anything other than average. Find ways to accomplish things others won't. Find ways to be unique and learn how to sell yourself. Capitalize on your strengths, and work tirelessly to improve in the areas where you are weak.
Being smart is cool
When I was in school, the smart kids weren't as cool as the kids who didn't care and slacked off. Well guess what? You'll see that change very quickly. Being smart is cool, because being smart means you are likely good at what you do and take things seriously. When you become a student of your profession, you succeed, and that means you will eventually earn the ability to be independent and enjoy the things in life you want that require money. Money doesn't solve all of your problems, but it certainly makes things a lot more enjoyable.
Don't be a victim
In the real world, people don't care about excuses, and they will never matter. Nobody cares about the challenges in your life. Nobody cares about the adversity you have faced in the past. Your sob story won't matter, so stop talking about it and using it as an excuse. We all have problems in life. It's all about how you deal with the challenges. Never use them as an excuse for your situation or your performance.
Again, congratulations on your accomplishment! I wish you nothing but success and happiness in the next chapter of your life and beyond
Christopher Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.