With some kids today, full sentences and unabbreviated words are an exception rather than the rule. But even as technology connects us all like never before, just remember that u... r... awesome... l-o-l sent to a cell phone will never mean as much to your parents, your best friend, or the person that you will marry, as the words, Thank you or I miss you, or I love you, will mean on a piece of paper or in a card. A person may buy a new cell phone, but he or she will keep your handwritten words in that letter or card forever.
And you can make a similar impact with handwritten notes in the business world, too. Nothing will ever show your attention to detail like taking the time to write a note to a client or counterpart, and honoring them by writing well.
LESSON 4: APPRECIATE THE POWER OF YOUR OWN GENIUS Just in case you think that making a mark on the world is meant for bigger, stronger, or more important people - here's a last lesson. Never underestimate your power to bring about change.
In my life, I have witnessed to some of the most remarkable social and political changes in the last century, and not just in our country, but all around the world. When I graduated from law school, the Soviet Union was still one of the most powerful and repressive forces on the Earth. Apartheid was the rule of law in South Africa, and many people around the world lived under governments that dictated their freedoms, their employment, their dreams and their aspirations.
All of those circumstances have been changed radically since then, because of the faith, inspiration and power of people who engaged, and agitated for change.
They weren't always the richest people, or the most powerful people, or sometimes even the smartest people in the room. But they saw a chance to make a difference, and they acted. Why shouldn't that be you?
When I was growing up in Texas, I went to a small church and every Sunday we would recite John 3:16 - which begins, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Our pastor had another way of putting it: for God so loved the world, that he didn't send a committee. He sent one powerful individual who would carry out that mission. And he's sent others, from Mahatma Gandhi to Lech Walesa to Mother Teresa to Dorothy Height to Martin Luther King, Jr.
So - what have you been sent to do?
Go work hard at your career, whatever it may be. Raise the best family that you can, with smart, educated kids. Improve your community, whether those are the neighbors on your street, the people in your town, or the citizens of the world.
An American author named Marianne Williamson made the case for you far more eloquently than I ever could. Nelson Mandela is a pretty eloquent speaker, but even he chose these words from Ms. Williamson for his inaugural address as President of South Africa. So let me leave you with this: 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.' So don't play small. One way or the other, commit to making a positive impact on people's lives by opening your eyes, your ears, your minds, your hearts, and your hands to the world.
You've made Southern Methodist University proud today. Continue to make SMU proud in the future. Thank you and God bless you.
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"COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS BY U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE RON KIRK TO SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY GRADUATES (AS PREPARED) LOCATION: DALLAS, TEXAS DATE: SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2010 (Part 2)." Congressional Hearing Transcript Database 18 May 2010. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 June 2010.
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