Roger Looyenga's Commencement Address
President Fuller. Thank you very much.
Dr. Fuller, distinguished faculty, alumni, honored guests, friends, family and especially the Class of 2011.
It is an honor to be here this morning to share this memorable day in your lives.
There are times in our lives, which we will never forget-both good and bad. Iím sure you can recall some of those times from your past years. Mark my words, this is one of those good times you will never forget and you will always cherish. YOU ARE ABOUT TO GRADUATE FROM MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY.
Dr. Fuller asked me to give you a little advise about success. Iím a little wary, after all Socrates, a great philosopher, gave advise and they poisoned him.
The definition of success found in the dictionary is "The achievement of oneís goal". I think a goal of every person on this earth is to be happy. Iíve never met a person yet who said their goal in life is to be miserable and unhappy.
Therefore if success in life is to obtain a goal and a goal is happiness, then success in life is to seek happiness in our life.
If you think success in life is to have the best job, make the most money, have a big house and all the other materialistic things money can buy, you are wrong. Iíve known people who have all of those things. Yet they are unhappy. One would not consider their life successful.
There is one more part to success and this is the most important part. Not only to seek out those things in life which will make us happy, but also make others happy along the way. Let me repeat that. NOT ONLY SEEK OUT THOSE THINGS IN LIFE WHICH WILL MAKE US HAPPY, BUT ALSO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY ALONG THE WAY. For if we become happy at the expense of others , then we have failed. I have two examples-one personal, the other extreme.
When I was a few years into my career, and only married a short time, I thought the key to success was to work long and hard. How else was one to climb the corporate ladder? In so doing, I failed to recognize my wife who was being ignored and becoming very unhappy. This caused us both to be unhappy.
What I learned from that experience was to work smarter not harder. Oh, by the way, next year we will have been married for 40 years.
You probably have heard of Bernard Madoff. The investment broker/financier who lost up to $50 billion of his clientís money in a ponzi scheme.
Prior to his arrest, he was considered one of the most successful investors Wall Street had ever known. Because he tried to be successful at the expense of others, he now will spend his remaining years in prison.
So again, success is not only seeking out those things in life, which make you happy, but also making sure you donít take happiness away from others.
The success you find in your life will depend upon the choices you make from here on out. Life is full of choices. Just like when you are in the airport and you have a choice of going up the escalator or going up the stairs. You have a choice. Sometimes the choices we make in our life are not always the easiest but they turn out to be the best for us. Going up the stairs is not the easiest, but it is the best choice because we get a little exercise along the way.
You create your life by the choices you make in your life. By controlling those choices, you control your life. Remember, you can never do anything in life unless you first choose to do it. You can never go up the stairs, unless you first choose to do so.
One of the choices you have already made in your life is to continue your education and receive a degree at Minot State University. You may be interested in knowing that only 27% of all American adults have a college degree.
Your college degree is a great accomplishment, however it is just the foundation of your learning and success. By having a college degree, you now have career opportunities that would not have been available to you without your degree.
When you leave here today, you will be in competition with others for a job and advancements in your career. Look around; you may be looking at your competition. Some of them may be your best friends.
One strong suggestion for your continued success is to separate yourself from your competition through continued learning. DONíT STOP LEARNING. Learn everything about your career. That could mean getting your masters or doctorate degree. It could mean obtaining a professional designation in your industry.
Read newspapers, magazines and books-both fiction and non-fiction. I always have two books going at a time. One is fiction, the other is non-fiction. When I get tired of one, I pick up the other.
Many of us remember a radio commentator by the name of Paul Harvey. His messages were heard on 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network Stations and read in 300 newspapers during his 65 broadcasting years. He often ended his segments with the saying-"And that is the rest of the story"
Paul Harvey said-"We are not born winners or losers, we are born choosers. Winners make the right choices and losers make the wrong choices. It is as simple as that."
Success in life is a balance of our work, our finances, our relationships, our material possessions, our health, our social interactions and everything else we do. Who said life is easy.
You have probably heard the saying: "there is not a magic formula to becoming successful" I agree, however there is a magic word. That word is ATTITUDE. The definition of attitude is what you show others on the outside, not how you feel on the inside.
Everything in our life starts with our attitude towards life. The attitude you show others, is the attitude you choose others to see.
We have a lady who works at Auto-Owners Insurance by the name of Diane. Everybody, but everybody says Diane never has a bad day. Yet, I know Diane has bad days. She has emotional ups and downs; she has aches and pains; yet she has chosen to show everyone a positive attitude each and every day. Remember, a positive attitude is what you show others on the outside, not necessary how you feel on the inside.
There are approximately 6.8 billion people in this world. Three hundred million of those people live here in the United States. Over 35 thousand live in Minot. How many of you would want to be with one of those people who have a Stinking, Lousy, Measly, Rotten, Critical Condemning, Complaining, Moaning, Whining, Pickle Sucking Attitude. Well guess what, if that is you, they donít want to be with you either.
It is a proven fact that 1/3 of us on a given day have a bad attitude. In other words we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. To find out who those 1/3 are today, look to the person on your left, look to the person on your right, and if it is not one of them guess who it is.
The attitude you show others is the attitude you choose others to see. The Disney Corporation says we hire kids who wonít pick up their dirty socks in their room, who wonít smile at their mom and dad but when they work at Disney, they pick up trash and smile at the customers. Why is that?
When this young person applies for a job at Disney, they are told, "you are not just applying for any old job, you are applying for a cast member position". "Do you think you can be a cast member? The young person is absolutely elated that they will be applying for an acting position and of course says, "Yes".
They are then told, we have a position available called a street sweeper. "Do you think you can play the role of a street sweeper?" Of course they answer with enthusiasm, "Yes".
Disney says, we have a few expectations for the role of a street sweeper. First, each day you come to work, you will be given a clean uniform. Kids will walk up to you with their dirty, sticky cotton candy hands, tug on your clean uniform and ask you some of the dumbest questions. "Do you think you can SMILE and answer their questions? They of course answer with enthusiasm, "Yes". Next, we are going to give you a little satchel that you hang over your shoulder, "do you think you can bend down and pick up trash, when you see it" Again, the answer is, Yes.
This is the same kid who wonít pick up his dirty socks in his room and wonít smile at his parents, but will smile and pick up trash at Disney. Why is that? The answer is expectations.
If others have the expectation that we will always have a positive attitude, then why donít we have the same expectation of our self?
Success in our life, starts with our attitude towards life. Our response to our attitude is our responsibility. The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.
In conclusion, I wish to leave you with these 5 thoughts:
- SUCCESS IS ABOUT our happiness at whatever we do in life and the happiness we bring to other people.
- SUCCESS IS ABOUT people becoming better because of us. If people are not better because of their association with us, then we have failed.
- SUCCESS IS ABOUT people serving people. The more you serve others, the more others will serve you. It is an indisputable law of life.
- SUCCESS IS ABOUT leading with your heart. Vince Lombardi said in his very last public speech, "The secret to success is heart power. Capture the heart, youíve captured the person."
- SUCCESS IS ABOUT doing your best. Walt Disney had it right when he said, "Whatever you do, do it so well that people will notice you doing it, they then will come back to see you do it again, except this time when they come back to see you do it again, they will bring along with them a friend."
To the graduates of the 2011 class, I wish you success and happiness throughout your journey in life.