“Anti-Commencement” Address?

I love commencement addresses. Well, good commencement addresses (perhaps because the address at my college graduation, as I remember it, did not fall in that category – note to self: see if you can find video of the address to see how it plays now).

Came across Charles Wheelan and his “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You” (WSJ) article (there is also a book – 10 ½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said). The 10 things that no commencement speaker has ever said were, apparently, said by Wheelan to the 2012 graduates of his alma mater, Dartmouth College.

The idea not being that the words are literally never said, but that they contain a bit more truth and grit and a bit less platitude and false optimism.

He’s got down-to-earth advice:

  • relish the connections you’ve made with others
  • there will be some rough times
  • don’t over-prioritize your job (the way he talks about this is terrific), and
  • it’s okay to shoot for solid and not great (and, in fact, that may be a good way to end up at great).

May have to come back to this one, because almost every one of his points is analogous to other important ideas – community, resilience, choice, mindfulness, etc. (For example, I’ve been reading and listening to a fair amount of Seth Godin, who stresses connection.) On second thought, perhaps I should first get the book and see how Wheelan expands on the ideas beyond the article. For now, I leave you with his article and (below) a link to an NPR interview with him about his advice.


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