A friend linked earlier today on Facebook to this beautiful graduation speech (delivered at Colgate University) and, since I thought it complemented our wonderful thread from earlier in the week on some of our favorite advice, I wanted to share some passages. (Read it in full here.) The author, Omid Safi, writes:
. . . what I want to talk with you about is this problematic idea of success. I would even say that we preach a kind of Gospel of Success in this country. We want you to be successful in your personal life. Successful in your love life. Successful in your faith. Successful in your investment.
Success is not some kind of a teleological process, not some kind of a linear climb up a mountain. Nor is it even something as straightforward as a cliché that “the journey is just as important as the destination.”
The truth of the matter is that life is really messy. Life is complicated. Every single one of us, even the ones who from the outside look like we have made it, stumble and fall flat on our face multiple times.
I would like for us as a learning community to have a better conversation about how we process failure.
It’s about learning to fall better, fail better, to crack more whole. It’s about learning to break more gracefully. It’s about learning to heal better, to get back up again, and to fail again.
I’d like for us to learn to have a more generous and kind understanding of what it means to have a successful life, one that is not about individual accumulation of goodies, but actually about the transformation of communities. It’s bathed in humility. And it’s practical.
The author has five lessons he’s accumulated in his life to help redefine the idea of success. Everyone should go read what they are. And then implement those lessons in your own life, whether you’re 22 and just graduating from college, or 65 and retiring from your career, or about to turn 40 with two little kids and a house and website to run and using the word “busy” too much to describe how (and who) you are.
So let me leave you with this: You are loved. If you are sitting here, somebody has loved you, somebody has sacrificed for you. Reach back to them, and extend the circle of love. Welcome people into that circle of compassion.
You have worth not because of what you do but because of the content of your soul, because of the depth of your commitment. Remember that we do live in a moral universe, and that kindness is the greatest virtue.