Things I Love Lately: the Commencement Speech Edition

I love commencement speeches.  Some of my favorites are classics and others are new.

Lin-Manuel Miranda at Penn, 2016 – “There will be moments you remember and whole years you forget.”  I had goosebums and tears in my eyes reading Miranda’s evocation of the years after college.  Oh, yes.

Sheryl Sandberg at Berkeley, 2016 – ” I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.”  This is a powerful piece about loss and perspective and what really matters in life.

Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005 – “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”  This whole speech is quotable, so I urge you to read (or, more likely, re-read) it.

JK Rowling at Harvard, 2008 – “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”  Also, a joke about gay wizards.  I love this speech more every time I read it.

Admiral McRaven at U Texas, 2014 – “Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”  Matt loves this speech and the four of us recently watched it.  We were all rapt.  Full of inspiration and wisdom.

I write these Things I Love roundups approximately monthly.  You can see them all here.


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4 Comments

  1. Nadine
    Posted June 1, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Wow. So much food for thought. I just read Sandberg’s speech, and it is deeply moving.

    I’ve found Parker Palmer’s 2015 address on the On Being blog and liked it very much: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/parker-palmer-living-from-the-inside-out/8688

  2. Posted June 1, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Oh, I have book-marked this post! I love commencement addresses, too. Maria Shriver gave a good one…although I forget the school and year:(.

  3. Posted June 1, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Me too. This year’s speakers down the street were particularly poignant, as so many (from Drew Faust’s baccalaureate address to Rashida Jones’s class day talk to Steven Spielberg’s commencement address) talked about the power of stories, of story-telling, of living your own story, of listening to others’ stories, to fold them into your narrative and to even be willing to rethink what you thought you knew. This after hearing Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice, explain how she felt the need to move away from neuroscience to fiction writing, to fill an empathetic void in her medical life. So powerful, to hear one speaker after another remind us that our stories matter.

  4. Posted June 11, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    What a great resource!