Geoff’s graduating address to the grade 6 class of Mary Queen of Peace in St. John’s, NL. (June 19, 2013)
1. Choice matters, even when you are 11
Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can make a difference, good or bad. Every day, the choices you make as you connect with friends, or not; work hard in school, or not; play hard after school, or not; they all matter. This is not something to stress about, but something to be aware of. Your choices shape your life. You will see the results of your choices.
2. You will screw-up and fail; it’s ok
Perfection is a myth that I want you to put out of your mind now and forever. Consider being “great,” not perfect. Be a great friend, a great brother or sister. As you grow, I’d like you to consider being a great dream-chaser. Whatever your path, it will involve you screwing-up. This is totally ok, especially if you learn from it. We can’t learn everything from our parents and teachers; you need to learn some things on your own.
Screwing-up is a great way to learn.
3. Your grades in school aren’t your grades in life
There are two important pieces here: your teachers grade your work in school but it is you who must decide if you are satisfied with your grades. Life works the same way; many others will grade you in life but it is you who decides if you have accomplished what you wanted.
I also want you to know that if you have “C’s” in school, it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish some awesome cool things in life–I am living proof of that. And if you have “A’s” in school, I want you to know that this doesn’t guarantee you will accomplish awesome cool things in life.
4. 1% is not 0%
There were times in my life when I was not expected to live. In fact, I was given less than a two per cent chance of living. What’s less than two?
Just because something is a long-shot doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after it. This is extra important as you dream about your future.
WARNING: There will be people who tell you it can’t, shouldn’t, won’t be done. Be thankful for them; they have always given me extra energy to chasing my dream.
5. Give ‘er – Dream it and do it!
Having a dream–big or small–is the second most important thing you will do in your life. The most important thing will be what you do with your dreams. Take your fear, uncertainty, questions, curiousity, desire, energy–take all of it with you–and give ‘er.
6. The most important things in life aren’t things
I started my own business a year before I left university. I was struck with a realization while working late one night: I had been working harder than I ever had in my life, I was making less money than I ever had, yet I was happier than I’d ever been.
How is this possible you may ask?
I learned that what got me going was recognizing an opportunity to make an impact and going after it–Givin’ ‘er!
Some people go their whole life and think it’s about the stuff–awards, toys, even letters after their name. Many many years from now when you approach the end of your life, I promise these things will be meaningless.
Dealing with cancer at a young age prompted me to reflect on my life, as short as it was to that point, and I can tell you the most important things we have in this life aren’t things at all, they are the experiences we have while we are here.
I want to give you all a high five on your graduation from grade 6 today. Awesome work. Enjoy today, have an awesome summer, and keep these six things in mind as you hit junior high and beyond. I can’t wait ’til our paths cross again, and I’m sure they will.
I will leave you with some words of wisdom from a good friend of mine. I met him first in the movie Pinocchio; his name is Jiminy Cricket and right at the end of the movie Jiminy is bouncing on Pinocchio’s shoulder and he says “If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.”
Chase your dreams and have a great time doing it.
Live life. Love life.