Monday Mix – Inspiring Graduation Speeches

Taking another page from the “Personal Excellence Blog” – see last weeks Monday Mix – Inspirational Adverts – here is another post they had a while back.

To quote the site:

Commencement speeches have become outlets for sharing some of the most important life lessons ever. After listening to Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech, I was inspired to round up the best graduation speeches of all time, so all of you can enjoy the rich insights of the speakers.

I plunged in, weeded through a good number of different graduation speeches from different times, and eventually picked these as the top 10. You’ll probably recognize most of the speakers, who are prominent people in their fields – people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah, Ellen, Randy Pausch, JK Rowling, and so on. I think the schools couldn’t have picked better speakers than them, because the most important inspiration anyone can ever get is someone who his living by example. I’ve picked these 10 speeches because they share important wisdom that are applicable to anyone in any time, beyond just graduating students.

The 10 speeches are not ranked in any order. I have included videos and transcripts where available. I’ve included my thoughts with each speech. My personal favorites are the ones by Steve Jobs, Arnold, Randy Pausch and Ellen Degeneres. Enjoy – I surely did.

1. Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005


Steve shares his life lessons via 3 stories in his life. His birth, when he got fired from Apple, and when he found out about his cancer. These 3 stories were extremely inspiring – most people knew Steve as the hot-tempered yet charismatic CEO who heads Apple, but who would have known that his birth parents gave him up for adoption? That he quit college because his college fees were sucking up his parents’ savings? That he was once fired from the very company he founded? And that he diagnosed in cancer in 2004, and by a stroke of fate, survived it?

Steve reminds us that in life, there is really nothing we have to lose, because we were born with nothing to begin with … Eventually one day, all of us will die. Everything that we’ve come to see as important, will lose significance on that day. What would you wish you could have done then? How would you rather have lived your life? Take that and start living true to that today. Don’t live your life in regret, because life is not meant to be lived in regret. It’s meant to be live in passion, with love, with fire, conviction, and purpose. Don’t ever settle for what you don’t want; keep fighting for what you believe in.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emory University, 2010


Arnold is an international movie star (Conan, Terminator, Commando) and the 38th Governor of California. I found his speech very inspiring – he’s living proof of how one can overcome all odds to achieve one’s dreams, as long as you set your heart and mind to it. Arnie shared how important it is to not be afraid of failure. He shared his personal stories of how he overcame resistances from everyone and achieved his dreams, one after another, by first having that crystal clear vision of what he wanted, then going all out to achieve them. Truly, there’s no such thing as “can’t be done”. If you really want to achieve your dreams, they will be yours for the taking.

3. Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008


Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. He was best known for The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, and also co-author of the book with the same name, which became a New York Times best-seller. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told in Aug 2007 that he only had 3-6 months to live. When he gave this speech at Carnegie Mellon, it was the 9th month. He later passed away 2 months after that.

Even though Randy’s speech was the shortest of the commencement speeches in this list (less than 6 minutes), it is in no way any less impactful. Randy’s reminder to all of us is the importance of living true to our dreams and pursuing them. That life isn’t about how long we live, but about how we live. His passion in living, teaching, and his relationship with his wife really shows through in his speech.

There are other great speeches on the site – go check it out here.

Here’s to an inspiring week.

(Source: Personal Excellence Blog)


MadMike posted at 2011-5-2 Category: Movies and TV

Leave a Reply

(Ctrl + Enter)