Good afternoon family, friends, and most of all, the Class of 2012. First of all I would like to congratulate all of you for your accomplishment and thank you for the honor of allowing me to speak today to CORE administration, its students, family and friends. Obviously your school administration has not been reading my Facebook posts lately otherwise they wouldn't want me up here influencing you. But here I am, so let's talk.
It was in 2007 that I gave my first commencement speech and it was then that I originally learned so much about your generation. What I learned about you still applies today, so allow me to share.
First of all, Class of 2012, you are known as the Millenial Generation or "Generation Now" because the technology-age has raised your expectations of instant gratification.
It is believed that the gap between your generation and that of your parents is the LARGEST GAP since the advent of Rock and Roll
You are known for your ability at abstract problem solving - also known as "thinking on the spot." On average, your IQ is 15 points higher than your parents. But don't get cocky. Your children's IQ will be 15 points higher than yours. What goes around comes around.
You grew up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of your worldview. You have learned to surf the Internet as you learned to read. While you were still in your crib, the 20th century started to close as the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet bloc disintegrated.
I have learned that since you were born...
"Ctrl + Alt + Del" is as basic to you as "ABC."
Paul Newman has always made salad dressings.
There has always been a screening test for AIDS.
Gas has always been unleaded.
There has always been some association between fried eggs and your brain.
Computers have always fit in your backpacks.
Stores have always had scanners at the checkout and you've always had a PIN number.
Directory assistance has never been free.
And to you, yuppies are almost as old as hippies.
And peeps are not a candy, they are your friends.
I went on to discover about your generation...
you are more likely than your parents to value wisdom over money. You lean towards group perspectives over individual points of view. You were born out of an era of arrogant certainty that has crumbled into an era of unexpected doubt; simply because of OUR future's uncertainty. You have learned to use the Internet not as your parents have, as a mechanism to obtain knowledge, but as a sharing and, most importantly, a "tool to create." Your parents are now known as the "Technology Immigrants" and you as the "Technology Natives."
For the last few years, I have been pondering your generation, attempting to imagine your future from YOUR perspective. But in order to do this, I had to first look back at a pivotal point in our humanity. So allow me to digress, for a moment, to the 1950's.
It had been thought for many decades that it was humanly impossible to break the four-minute mile until 1954 when a young English medical student by the name of Roger Bannister, did just that. He did the UNTHINKABLE. He broke the four-minute mile. As soon as this was accomplished it began to be duplicated around the world, time after time by those who had HEARD of Banister's accomplishment and, even more surprisingly and mysteriously, by those who had not.
Years later it would be understood that not only did Banister break the four-minute mile, but he proved to the entire world that there IS SUCH A THING as a Collective Consciousness. This athletic accomplishment actually showcases an incredible web: an incredible subconscious connection between every man, woman and child. By breaking the four-minute mile, Banister gave the world permission to do the same and the world-followed.
We have always been connected to our Collective Consciousness, but in addition we are now connected to this tangible global brain called the Internet. Within seconds you can connect the world to YOUR authentic concepts, imagination and philosophies. Like that (snap). You can profoundly affect the world simply by creating, dreaming, and putting your fingertips to a keyboard. It's that easy. NEVER have we had such an UNPRECEDENTED opportunity to connect to the world and shape our future for generations to come.
This is the only world you have ever known.
Unlike 2007 when I gave my first commencement speech, we had yet to see the full power of the internet, social media, open-source technology. Because of the advent of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the world has witnessed such earth-shaking-first-of-its-kind-global-revolutions such as the Arab Spring. My Lord, we're even seeing the Canadians protesting. I didn't know they even knew how to protest!
In just one decade we are already bearing the fruit of this brave new interconnected world.
Simply because of Youtube, the world has become so small, flooding into our homes and schools rooms, unexpectedly catching us off guard, allowing us to watch live, our own version of modern day a Pompeis- such as a tsunami seemingly swallowing up Japan. Because the world has grown so turbulent and inter-connected all at the same of the time, we are exponentially tapping into this ability to be able to think on the spot. We have cleverly learned to utilize the best of social media so as to be able to create the first ever leaderless movement known as Occupy Wall St. We have tapped into the Collective Genius that will ultimately rebuild our world, not through the copy-right, but through open-source platforms and our collective desire to create something larger than ourselves.
So, your FUTURE…. with the incredible challenges we are facing today, what will your future look like?
Again, in order to see this, we must visit the past. I would like to share with you a story that I believe gives us a glimpse into what lies before us. By doing this, I must, once again share the most remarkable story you most likely have never heard called "911 Boatlift."
As you all know, when 911 happened and the Twin Towers dropped, a huge plume of smoke, debris, asbestos blew out. Ultimately engulfing tens of thousands of people. What most Americans don't know is what followed after that was the biggest story of 911 never told.
Remember, Manhattan is an island and when 911 occurred all transportation to and from the island came to a complete stop. Trapping tens of thousands of terrorized and shocked individuals.
Seeing this, the Captain of the Coast Guard, standing in his boat off of Manhattan Island, realized that there were far too many people for them to be able to rescue. Injured, scared, in shock and many screaming hysterically for help, they stood at the edge of the island, ten deep.
It is then the Coast Guard Captain does the only thing he knows to do and that was to get onto his radio and make broad call out to the public saying, if you're a captain and you have a boat, you get out here and fill that boat to capacity and rescue these people.
He continues to watch thousands more people stream from the haze and about 15 minutes later, the Captain is thinking to himself, "I hope somebody responds," when he turns around and sees hundreds and hundreds of boats already on their way.
You weren't told and I wasn't told this story that should essentially make all history books, but the 911 Boatlift became the largest sea evacuation in all of history. Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days. On 911 nearly 500,000 people were rescued from Manhattan Island and in less than 9 hours.
This is the story of 911 Boatlift. In the future, your lives, our lives, will be filled with more and more of these remarkable boatlift stories because our world will simply demand this of us. ‘Thinking on the spot' will be the only way to tackle what is ahead of us.
But if we've done it before, we can do it again. Like Banister, Americans have already given ourselves permission to be great. The story is simply being kept from us. We are living in times that will require our own Boatlift, but on a much grander scale and we will all be participating one way or another.
Five years ago when I gave my first commencement speech, not only did I not need reading glasses…. But it was believed that your generation and your parents had the largest generation gap since the advent of rock and roll. But I beg to differ: today we are beginning to see the two generations, "Technology Immigrants" and the "Technology Natives." coming around full circle -- because all generations are realizing it is ‘all or nothing' at this point.
We must look within ourselves for not only what is already obvious, but what is still unthinkable --like the four-minute mile or 911 Boatlift.
Making our lives and the world a better place to live is a team sport; a planetary family affair. Ask yourself what is-my-place-in-this-remarkable-story? What role do I want to play? What do I want to give the world permission to do?
Understand that after graduating from high school or college there is no core curriculum for life. You are the only one in charge of your life: so live as though you are the author of your story; think "creative writing." And remember college is something you complete. Life is something you experience and success has a MYRIAD of definitions.
If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough. Making mistakes is a sign that you are pushing and expanding yourself. It is paramount to our humanity as a whole that you recognize adversity as opportunity. And I will give you some personal examples.
Because I watched my mother die an early death from cancer, just after I graduated from high school, her death propelled me into travelling the world through 27 countries, $10 a day for 14 months. Because I was not able to continue with a South Pole Expedition I had been training with I organized my own Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Because I had to leave that Trans-Antarctic expedition I had organized I embarked upon my OWN solo trek across Alaska. Because the ice on the frozen Yukon River that I was skiing down began to break up, I cut down three trees and built a canoe. Once back home, working with community, because I did not understand how local government worked, I ran for city council and became Mayor of Nevada City. I could go on, but will spare you. The point is this, I would not have known what I was capable of if I hadn't pushed myself and, yes, I made mistakes all along the way.
In an era of over-analyzing and achieving, I ask you not to be a slave to your head. What I mean by this is you have over 60,000 thoughts a day. Do not believe everything you think. Learn how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to because that is exactly what you will call into your life.
Do not be bound to your plans. They WILL change. As I'm sure you already can imagine, jobs you are studying for today may be obsolete in five years. And most likely, like myself, you will be inventing yourself as you go.
Seek nature. Seek silence. That's where you'll FIND your intuition. And what ever you do, get out of town. Do not continue living here… at least for now. It's essential you leave the nest. It'll be here if you need it. Instead travel overseas. Take your backpack, a camera, and a good book and go. GO! You'd be surprised by what the world has to show you. Become an intern for a cause you believe in. Seek adventures that you thought were reserved only for your imagination.
Explore the world until it shows you what you are really made of; what particular gifts you possess. And it WILL... I have come to find, if you pursue your passion, life will reward you handsomely in ways you can't imagine.
Do not allow your own mind, parent, teacher of therapist talk you out of your wildest plans. If I had listened to reason, I would not have the story I have today; an accumulation of connected dots that has completely altered my perspective on our reality and the world around us.
Because I listened to myself, which meant I had to stop talking sometimes, I completed my wildest dreams in 1994, the year that many of you were born, by skiing six hundred miles down the frozen Yukon River, building a canoe, and paddling another 900 miles.
If I had listened to reason I would still be dreaming about this adventure rather than sharing it with you today as one of my life-changing connected dots.
And understand you can't connect those dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back. Have faith that, if you follow your heart, they will connect.
I ask you to pay attention to synchronicity; it's telling you that you are on the right track. And the more you pay attention to your intuition the more your life will be filled with grace. I ask you to have faith, in your gut, life, destiny, karma, whatever you want to call it. Have faith in something larger than yourself. And know that everything will be all right in the end. And if it's not all right then, obviously, it's not the end.
Go break your own four-minute mile, jump into your boats, and just get to it. I look forward to basking in the experience of us all, lifting this planet into a better place and giving the world permission to do the same.
Because, you know, 2012 is the year!
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