By Randy Pierce
I have been privileged to speak at many events for many different audiences. This week’s opportunity feels particularly special as I prepare a commencement address for the White Mountain Community College.
Given this is my first commencement, I thought some research appropriate. One of my discoveries was the presentation at the 2012 Wellesley High School commencement I’ll keep in mind for this upcoming opportunity and similarly for my high school alma mater, Colebrook Academy, in June.
“You are Not Special” is a powerful, albeit controversial, presentation by David McCullough, Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High. While I felt he began weakly, many powerful points joined his insightful and “incite-full” commentary. The final few minutes hold the crux of his message and I suggest it is a worthy listen for all of us.
Capturing just one of his quotes which resonated for me: “Climb the mountain so that you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” It is within the experiences we should find the most value, not the accolades. Our best achievements are in the choices we make, not the accomplishments we recite. There is potency to the dichotomy that if everyone is special then nobody is special.
This does not mean that we are not all uniquely talented nor that we may not all achieve very worthy goals. Indeed, should we choose to reach for worthy goals, we very well may find ourselves achieving them.
A commencement is a beginning. It is given at the start of the next phase of the graduates’ lives. How challenging it is to attempt to impart upon those present a spark of wisdom or inspiration from the tinder of years of their own efforts at developing their lives, helped by the influence of so many dedicated teachers, family and friends. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity and will try to share a bit of the vision I’ve developed through my experiences. The full depth of the message I’ll save for my time with those graduates.
For now, I reflect upon the tagline of our 2020 Vision Quest which is to “Achieve a Vision Beyond Your Sight.” This is not only to develop a vision beyond your sight but to achieve it. There’s a fair bit of work involved in both of those steps; fortunately, there is an incredible reward in reaching for those goals and more still in persevering and working hard enough for the achievement as well.