What I learned at my wife’s graduation?

The graduation time is one of the best time of a year. It is about the celebration of accomplishments, optimism of future, and the excitement of traversing new paths, adventures of charting dreams, and much more. It also is a great time to hear from many leaders who share their wisdom in the commencement speeches. This year, me and my 2-year old had the opportunity to be in the audience to witness my wife graduate. A few things stood out:

Dare to dream unlimited

The night before the graduation, me and my wife spoke about her dream to put technology to best use in improving math education. There were many similar discussions happening elsewhere – some dreaming to make computers as smart as humans, putting people into space, finding alien colonies, solving the mystery of aging/death, curing many diseases, making places hygienic and so much more.

We are increasingly living in a sci-fi like imaginative world and the way we connect with each other is changing. Today there is an environment where no dream is far fetched. Both the new graduates and the tenured graduates can now dare to dream and imagine that it is reachable.

Inspiration from purpose

There is a very close virtuous cycle between dreams, inspirations, and purpose. They feed on each other and create a type of revolution that is simply far reaching. There is the Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg story – all inspired and driven by a purpose. If Steve viewed a computer in the hands, Elon is working on disrupting space travel and energy sector,  Mark is showing different ways to connect.

For every such success there is a rags to riches story, a dorm to greatness story, from garage/food stamps to philanthropy it is simply amazing what someone can achieve in one life by being part of this virtuous cycle. Both the new graduates and the tenured graduates can now simply inspire to live with a purpose & make something out of it.

Celebration of accomplishment

In the graduation, we had our 2 year old cheer “mommy, mommy” just excited to see the visual of her walk on a giant screen. We had two other kids cry their way so much so that they walked with their parents. What a true inspiration for these children to see their parents accomplish? Very similarly, many parents worked their way to get that best picture, wiped their tears of joy, and stood up with pride.

This is certainly not a lesson on family values but rather a gentle reminder of what it takes for accomplishments to bear fruit in our increasingly world where we have little time for everything else.

The graduation is a celebration of an individual’s hard work and accomplishment that is typically build on the foundation of parents’, loved ones’ sacrifices, and it is an inspiration for future generations. Not many occasions are that momentous.

Hunger to learn

There is one thing about the graduation. It is actually an ode to hunger – a hunger to learn and grow. This hunger doesn’t really starts here. As the journey of life brings upon realities like student loans, marital responsibilities, children, and then the distractions that simply squeeze each one of us out of time, the world around us begins to move faster than anticipated. Case in point, in the not so old days, we had the Joe/Jill next door to compete with and now we’ve got Siri, Cortana, Alfred, Watson – none of whom are living beings like us but behave so.

If you just step back and look at the life time the amount of changes that prompt us to continually learn and grow is exponential. The graduation is thus that ode to hunger. Steve Jobs very famously said – stay hungry stay foolish.

Learning to live

Finally, it is about learning to live. A lot is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). When the students graduate,  their dreams, inspirations, hunger, and celebrations are all about this VUCA context. A lot is said about this and it is in many ways dampening to talk about this reality.

The graduation is also a forward looking perspective on learning to live together and make a virtuous cycle of peace, prosperity, happiness, and well-being.

Finally, to all the new and tenured graduates – I am not sure if any of the above reflections are worth it. But all I say – Dream, Inspire, Learn, Live, and Celebrate.


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