Here’s advice I wish I would have received when graduating from high school

Dear Idaho Graduates,

Due to the COVID-19 virus issues, perhaps many of you won’t have the opportunity to hear graduation speeches. Thus, I am pleased to provide you a brief summary of the advice I wish I would have received when graduating from high school.

Here goes:

1. Everyone is struggling with something.

When I was younger, my perception was that other people had life pretty easy. No worries, no problems, no issues etc… After being in charge of 1,000 employees and 5,400 students in Madison 321 for over 20 years, I realize now that EVERYONE and I mean everyone is wrestling with something.

More often than not, they struggle with issues that are not readily visible.

A smile that a person is wearing may be nothing more than, “I have decided to face another day the best I can.”

So, if you are feeling that you are having a rough time, please keep in mind so is everyone else, including the guy writing this article. Ask for help if you need it. There will be someone more than willing to do so.

2. Always be kind.

Be kind whenever possible, and it is always possible. To my detriment, and to the detriment of others, I far too often, have chosen to be right or try to prove a point vs. being kind. First and foremost, always be kind. Always.

3. Life is a competition with yourself. Period.

Someone else in the world is always smarter, stronger, wiser, more handsome or pretty, more giving, faster, richer, nicer etc…. If you find yourself competing against the world, and see life as a competition, you will always lose.

Just be the best version of you. Be the smartest, strongest, nicest person you can possibly be. That is competition enough.

4. Forgive.

Not because the other person deserves it, but you do. Forgiveness is freedom. You deserve the peace of mind that comes from true letting go.

Give yourself the promise of a new start by forgiving. Which includes forgiving yourself.

5. Satisfaction.

Satisfaction is the realization how blessed you truly are and being grateful for what you have.

During this time of the pandemic, for starters, I am grateful for good health, that I am a citizen of the USA, that I live in beautiful Idaho, that I am gainfully employed, have a family and friends etc… the gratitude / blessing list is truly endless.

6. Happiness.

Happiness cannot be traveled to, purchased, owned, worn or consumed. Happiness comes in brief moments of time well spent at work, in service to others, and with family and friends.

7. Be a lifelong learner.

Like my 3-year-old grandson, keep asking endless questions, especially why or why not? Engage frequently in good conversations, read often and well, think deeply, be curious.

What we don’t know is always vastly more than what we do know. Make it your goal in life to keep chipping away at the twin evils of ignorance and apathy.

8. Five people.

You will be the average of the five people with whom you associate most frequently. The average wealth, intellect, behavior, lifestyle, attitude, interests, skills, hobbies, etc….

Therefore, choose wisely.

9. Be Passionate.

There are a million great causes in the world. Get after it! Be enthusiastic! Get fired up! Let er buck! Be one of those unbridled people who are on fire with enthusiasm about something awesome!

10. Perseverance.

The world will move out of the way for the person who knows where they are going. Be headed somewhere.

Be determined. Have a worthwhile goal that really stretches you to the limit, and then move heaven and earth to get there.

Congratulations on your graduation, and best wishes to you!

Geoff Thomas

About Geoff Thomas

Dr. Geoff Thomas is the superintendent of Madison School District and was a member of the governor's Task Force for Improving Education.

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