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(Miller-Motte Technical College Graduation, January 29, 2006)

It’s great to be with you today to help celebrate this special occasion! Through your hard work and persistence, you have successfully taken another step not only in your career … but in life! I understand 37 of you studied Massage Therapy, 65 Surgical Technology, 19 Medical Assisting, 3 Criminal Justice, 5 Information Processing, 1 Pharmacy Technology, 1 Accounting, and 1 Business Management! [Total – 132] Congratulations! … Along with your diploma, you will also be receiving the script of a workshop my company recently created … our gift to each of you!

Let me begin with a question … what two "things" do we all want most out of life? Would you not agree, we want to succeed, and we want to be happy? However, isn’t it "interesting" that the two are mentioned separately! … "I want to be successful AND I want to be happy" … as if it were possible to be one and not the other! By a show of hands, how many of you know (or know of) a person who, you would say, is successful … but not happy? OK … now, how many of you know (or know of) someone who is happy, but not necessarily all that "successful"? What does it "take" to be successful? What does it "take" to be happy? Can you be both at the same time?! … Of course you can! Let’s take "look" at each for a moment …

What is the "key" to success? As with all universal truths, it can be expressed in very simple terms. If you accomplish something worthwhile, isn’t that success? … Doing what you enjoy doing and seeing the "fruits" of your labors? (story: Football with Larry) What did this experience "teach" me? … For one, God answers prayers! … Secondly, if you just take action … if you just start, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! There are only two reasons a person does not succeed – they don't start in the first place, or once they’ve started, they stop before they finish … so, a simple formula for success is (1) Start, and (2) Don’t Stop! Or, to put it into even simpler terms, complete tasks. Another thought along this line – break a goal down into bite-size pieces (i.e. create a plan). Let’s take a moment for a little "audience participation" … if you know the answer, raise your hand – "How do you eat an elephant?" (That’s right – One-bite-at-a-time!) As they say, by the mile it’s a trial, by the yard, it’s hard, by the inch, a cinch! It’s easy to succeed when we take small enough steps (baby steps) … and each time you succeed (complete a task), how does it make you feel? … Exhilarated! Ecstatic! Thrilled! (Does it not?!) Nothing increases our self-confidence more quickly than a series of completed tasks (success breeds success ... and you're on a roll)! Ask yourself: “What is my passion?” (… & pursue it!) Note: The underlying aim of all our actions should be to replace bad habits with good habits … for who we are and what we become is the result of the habits we have acquired!

Now think … what brings you happiness? Certainly doing what you enjoy doing and succeeding at it will bring some happiness ... however, would you not agree that true, lasting happiness comes from caring for another person, and having them care for you?! To put it simply, the key to happiness is build relationships (story: My Wife). Caring for and loving others truly is the foundation of long-lasting relationships and happiness … and one of the necessary "ingredients" to loving a person is getting to know and understand them. … And how do you get to know and understand someone? -- by talking with them, finding out about their interests and desires, planning and doing things together, working together … enjoying each other’s company! … and in the process, you will not only come to know and understand them, you will also come to appreciate and love them. Note: All too often we have the attitude of negotiating or compromising when working with another, when we should be synergizing. The first two tend toward win-lose or lose-lose “solutions”… the third leads to win-win!

In success and happiness, there’s another "element" to consider … undoubtedly at times we all fail and get discouraged … however, it has been said … success is 90% failure! Think how many times you attempted to ride a bicycle when you were first learning. Didn’t you fail the first 6, 7, or 8 times you tried? (but you kept trying … why? … because you saw how much fun your friends have who already know how to ride! … and you wanted to join them and have just as much fun!) Think of how many times Lincoln failed when running for various political offices before becoming President … or how many times Edison(*) failed in his attempts before inventing the light bulb (10,000 failures)! Did you know Babe Ruth not only had the record for home runs … but also for strike-outs?! Once Winston Churchill gave a speech to a graduating class. It was the shortest speech he’d ever delivered … consisting of a mere 6 words: "Never, never, never, never give up!" If one is to succeed, if one is to build strong relationships, one must persist. And instead of having problems … just call them "situations!" This positive frame of mind will do wonders for your outlook! Brian Tracy, a well-known motivational speaker/trainer, once offered to help his wife with one particular couple she was counseling in their marriage. First he listened to them … then he said just two things – (1) "You have a problem." (2) "What are you going to do about it?" This got them to start focusing on solutions rather than problems … and they succeeded! Problems/Obstacles are, in reality, opportunities(#) in disguise (in "work clothes"). That’s what life is all about – growing through meeting life’s challenges!" Just keep your goals in mind, and they will "motivate" you (through positive expectancy) to be persistent … to "keep on keeping on" till you obtain that success and happiness that, through your persistence, is "inevitable!"    * ["I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." - Thomas A. Edison]   # [Be an “Inverse Paranoid”!]

Now for the final "key" … How can we be both successful and happy at the same time? “Tempus fugit” is a Latin phrase which means “time flies” … and all-too-often the things that matter the most are sacrificed for the things which matter the least. We must set priorities!. (story: "Rocks First") No matter how skilled you get at a task … no matter how well you do anything … unless it is getting you closer to that success that means the most to you, or closer to those people in your life who you truly love … you are wasting your time! In other words, DO FIRST THINGS FIRST. There’s not enough time to do everything, but plenty of time to do the most important things! And now, I conclude with one of my favorite poems ("Take Time").



Football with Larry
In the 4th or 5th grade, a bunch of us boys were playing touch football during recess. My team had the ball. I went out for a pass, and caught the ball. No one was between me and our goal … no one, that is, except Larry Grimes … only the most athletic guy in the entire school! My first thought was – "I may as well throw up my hands right now … I’ll never get past him!" But then I thought … "Why not give it a try?!" So I said a quick prayer. I knew that if I immediately took off to the right or left, Larry would easily chase me down. And then it "hit" me … I ran straight at him, full-blast ahead! By the look on his face, you could tell he thought whatever sanity Bob White used to have, was gone! Well … as soon as I got within a few feet of Larry, I faked to the right, then immediately swung around to the left. It was just enough to throw him off, and I made it past him for a touchdown!!!

My Wife
Years before getting married, I decided on 3 qualities I wanted in my wife… that she (1) loved children, that she (2) was musically inclined, and that she (3) was intelligent and could think on her own. I prayed to find such a woman … and my prayers were answered (again)! Even before we got married, it was obvious that Donna loved children, by the great job she was doing raising her three children from her first marriage. And her musical talents were evident as she played the piano and organ at church … she also had a beautiful voice, and had taught herself to play the guitar! Finally, I could just tell she was intelligent and had a mind of her own … however, it wasn’t till after we got married that I came to realize how much of a mind of her own she had(!) More than once since our wedding have I told God I felt He might have gone a bit "overboard" in answering this particular request … and, I have to admit, Donna feels the same about me! However, in the process of raising our 8 children, Donna and I have actually gotten our heads together on a few things … and at these times have truly realized that two heads really are better than one! ALSO, in all this, I have come to realize more and more what a special person I married. She truly makes me happy, and I can tell she feels the same about me (… especially when we get our heads together!).

Rocks First
At the end of class, the professor placed a large glass jar on the table in the front of the classroom, and filled it with rocks … then asked his students, "Is the jar full?" … and they all agreed. Then he proceeded to pour some pebbles into the jar, till they filled the spaces between the rocks, and asked again, "Now, is the jar full?" … and they all agreed, again. Finally, he poured sand into the jar, filling in all the space between the rocks and pebbles, and said … "Now, I want you to recognize that this jar is your life. The rocks are the most important things - your spouse, your children, your health – anyone or anything so important that if they were lost, you would feel devastated. The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale… like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there will be no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that matter the most. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal." Take care of the rocks first, then the pebbles … the sand will take care of itself! (click here)

Take Time
to WORK ( it is the price of success)
to PLAY (it is the secret of perpetual youth)
to THINK (it is the source of power)
to READ (it is the fountain of wisdom)
to PRAY (it is conversation with God)
to LAUGH (it is the music of the soul)
to LISTEN (it is the pathway to understanding)
to DREAM (it is hitching your wagon to a star)
to WORSHIP (it is the highway of reverence)
to LOVE & BE LOVED (it is the gift of God)
            (author unknown)

# Unlike a paranoid, who feels the world is out to do him harm, an “inverse paranoid” sees every difficult or challenging event for what it could be – something that was meant to enrich him, empower him, or advance his causes! With this attitude (positive expectancy), one “attracts” the very experiences they “anticipate” (via “self-fulfilling prophecy”)!

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