When my son graduated from the University of Arkansas last May, the commencement address was given by Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods. His inspirational, “go get ’em” message challenged the graduates to do great things and change the world. He quoted Mark Twain. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Heck, quote Mark Twain to me and I’ll be inspired all day long.
Finding your why. Those three little words are weighty.
For many years, I felt my “why” was to be the best parent I could be to my two children. And at the same time, while I was raising my kids, I worked in banking. I started at the bottom and slowly worked my way up to senior vice president in the commercial lending department. Was it my “why”? I didn’t know what that meant. It was my job, and for the most part I enjoyed it and paid my bills and saved some money and if we’re being honest, which we are, I loved the wardrobe that went along with such a career, too.
There seems to be an idea in this country that one should only do what feels 100% fulfilling. If a job isn’t your fantasy job, don’t do it. Don’t waste a single moment doing something you don’t absolutely love.
This mentality makes me want to poke myself in the eye. Grunt work is part of the deal. Sometimes grunt work means working for someone else. A corporation that makes profits. Oooooohhhhh noooooooo.
People, profit is not a dirty word. Our country can’t survive without businesses that make profits. Yes, there are certainly lots of CEOs making ridiculous amounts of money, but this is not about that issue. This is not about the 1% or politics or any of that. This is about good, normal, hard-working folks trying to get by. People who’ve put their “why” on hold.
I applaud those people and the companies that hire them.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard and building a nest egg and waiting to realize our dreams. Sometimes that’s the responsible thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re one of those people who set the world on fire right from the get-go doing what you were meant to do from day one, bravo. You are a unicorn. But me? I took a more circuitous path and I’m still figuring it all out. My journey has been part of the process.
I rather enjoyed the corporate ladder. Each rung provided a lesson and all those lessons shaped me into the human bean I am.
Sometimes when you get to the highest rung on your ladder, you find something completely unexpected.
I love writing. Today, writing is my why. Maybe tomorrow a different why will find me. Again, part of the journey.
Good luck to all the graduates, including my daughter who graduates from law school next week. Those unwritten pages are for you to fill. Work hard, don’t take yourself too seriously, remember where you came from, and be a good human bean. Always.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
[tweetthis]my advice to the new graduate: sometimes it’s about grunt work. #reallife #graduationday[/tweetthis]
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten
Kelly H says
Excellent post. Thank you for sharing such wise words.
You should be giving a commencement address with those words of wisdom. 🙂
Talya Tate Boerner says
Thank you Colene!
Cindy Lu says
Great Graduation Gift! Finding YOUR Why……thanks,Talya. I envision you traveling the world on book tours and making commencement addresses! Love the enthusiasm in your up-lifting, yet humble words. Your life story is a
remarkable illustration of “things happening for a reason” – you had the best of all worlds: an adventuresome childhood in the 70’s Delta region, raising great kids, a great banking career, now a successful writer. And I suspect the ‘cherry on top’ of all that happiness will be reading your very own books as you rock your precious grandbabies to sleep. (Years down the road perhaps) Again, I can close my eyes and envision that very thing in my mind. And the WHY of it all is that huge smile I see on your face as you rock and reminisce about what truly has been a FUNderFULL life! Bravo, my fabulous cousin, Bravo!
Barbara Tate says
Excellent words of wisdom. Deep thoughts. I am so glad you found your “why”. Your drive to write is a wonderful blessing. Love this post and the picture of Tate.
Martha Orlando says
Mark Twain does it for me, too! 🙂
It took me quite a while to find my “why” in life. When God finally got tired of nudging me to write and just downright pushed me, I found it. I still recall writing that first sentence in my first novel, knowing my ideas, but definitely not how everything would flesh itself out. Six books later – ahhh!
I was in my fifties when I began writing in earnest. To all those young folks starting out, I hope it doesn’t take you that long to find your “why.”
Dorothy Johnson says
Excellent post! You’d be a great commencement speaker. I’m glad your why is writing now.