Athens High School Graduation Speech
Carlos Fontana: Personal, financial, and professional development
I am humbled and honored to be here, to be part of your celebration. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your special day. We are very proud of you. Congratulations on your accomplishment, graduating from a great high school. Now you have something to build a life upon. You were all born with great potential, with many talents and abilities. Today I am going to share with you 7 nuggets of wisdom from a life of dreams, struggles and victories. I hope these words help you live a great life. Life is full of opportunities and obstacles. Know that your greatness comes disguised in your difficulties, especially in pain and suffering. If you choose the hard life early on, life will get easier and easier. If you choose the easy life early on, life will get harder and harder. In other words, do the things early in life that will allow you to do truly great things later in life. Life is the sum of your choices. Take these nuggets and apply them for the rest of your lives.
1. Take full control of your personal finances. Money is not evil; the love of money is. Money is not the most important thing in life. However, in the order of importance, it comes just below oxygen. All of us need money. Don’t believe it? Try to live without it. When it comes to money, what really matters is what you do with what is left and not how much you make. Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Debt is like cancer. Debt is a modern form of slavery. People don’t lack money, they lack understanding of money. Learn the principles of money. If you don’t understand the rules of money, money will not stick to you. Invest your money to make time instead of spending time to make money. Time and not money is the substance of life. We must invest time is we would like to have time. We all want time and money and the only way to have both is to invest time and money, instead of spending them.
2. Define what you want out of your life. If you don’t know where you are going, all roads will get you nowhere. Have dreams and be true to your dreams. If you can dream you can do it. Never live another day without a dream. Your purpose in life is already in you, detect it. What were you uniquely born to become? Why are you living the life you were given? Have a vision. Where are you going? Write things down. If it is not written it does not exist. It is estimated that 98% of the people do not have clearly written down what they want out of life. Only 3% of people have five year goals. Be in that minority. We can never hit a target we don’t have. Make your time matter by succeeding at something that matters. If it is up to be it is up to me.
3. Be a voracious learner and build your library. Learning never ends. The more you learn, the more you earn. An investment in knowledge pays the best dividend. Read 15 minutes daily and you will read 1,000 books in your lifetime. Listen to audios from people with the results you want. Hang around the people you admire and trust. Seek and find the right mentor and follow the advice you get. Five years from now you will be the same you are today except for the books you read and the people you associate. Apply the knowledge gained to change yourself before you have to. Remember that success is always found on the other side of convenience. At some point in your lives you will be called to lead. Prepare and your chance will come.
4. Seek creative leisure instead of pleasures. Chase freedom instead of security. True success boils down to one word, freedom; the freedom to be who you were created to be. Seek meaningful work. Love what you do and do what you love. Learn to feel like you matter because you do. Seek learning experiences to be wise. You can learn everywhere you go. Learn to have fun. Invest money to buy the right experiences. Travel expands our horizons. Reflect on your experiences. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. The formula for high achievement is hard work plus smart work plus time, in this order. Live by your priorities and not by your obligations.
5. Tap into the power of gratitude and generosity. Count your blessings for they are many. Be a giver. The biggest secret to living is giving. No one becomes poor by giving. Giving is more effective when we give more than we can spare. Tap into the power of sacrificial giving. The future belongs to the givers not the takers. Serve others. Winston Churchill said we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. We only find ourselves after losing ourselves for the benefit of others. True happiness comes from serving others. Encourage others. Be an up-lifter and not a downer. Accept, approve, and appreciate others. Never criticize, condemn or complain. Never give or accept your excuses. Be grateful for all the people that helped you get this far in life and many more will help you to get to the next stage.
6. Master the art and science of communication. Here is another great secret to a happy life. The secret is found in the seconds between stimulus and response. Respond instead of reacting. In those seconds we have the freedom to choose. We regret a lot more from our reactions than from our responses. Learn how to speak in public. Be a friend. True friendships are the greatest treasures in life. Build tight relationships. High trust relationships are the best assets to own. Belong and foster community. Your value is the value of the number of relationships is your community to the second power. Grow in value by growing your community.
7. Follow the right principles. Apply these powerful principles.
a. Think long term. Ask, will it matter 10 years from now? 20 years from now what would I wished I had done today?
b. Delay gratification. If I have not earned I do not deserve it yet.
c. Leverage the power of compounding. Compounding is the 8th wonder of the world. Wisdom compounds faster than money.
Have faith and you can achieve anything. We have to believe to see, see to do, do to improve, and improve to succeed. Faith is going to your future to get advice for your future. Fear comes from going back to our past failures to get advice for our future.
Don’t believe the lies the world tells you. Don’t buy into what the world throws at your face either. What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient or urgent. Never ask for easy, only ask for worth it! That is how success works.
You were all created for greatness. You are more capable than you think you are. If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would surprise ourselves. You will live a great life when you decide to live a great life. Sprout those seeds of greatness inside you, nurture and develop the talents and abilities you were given. Have faith and you will overcome any obstacle. Never ever give up. Today is the first day of the rest of your lives. Walk on your purpose and create a destiny simply because you can. America needs you to live a meaningful life.
Thank you and May God bless you.