This time of year, I love reading some of the great commencement speeches given by writers, politicians, poets, journalists, etc. Many of them are so inspirational and motivating. Anyone in leadership should really take the time to read some of these speeches, as they remind us of the possibilities, innovation and future ideas of our organizations and businesses.
This year, Anna Quindlen‘s commencement speech at Grinnell College was fabulous. Quindlen, author and columnist at Newsweek, spoke to graduates about a variety of things from the economy, to facing fear, to being real. But the thing that struck me the most was her reference to the traditional belief of parents who want their children to “do better” than they had. Many believe that just isn’t going to happen for this next generation.
While Generation Y‘s are not looking for the SUV’s and McMansions of the 80’s, Quindlen points out that perhaps this is a moment to consider what “doing better” really means and she does a fine job of redefining it.
As Quindlen so eloquently stated, …
If you are part of the first generation of Americans who genuinely see race and ethnicity as attributes, not stereotypes, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans with a clear understanding that gay men and lesbians are entitled to be full citizens of this country with all its rights, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans who assume women merit full equality instead of grudging acceptance, will you not have done better than we did? And on a more personal level, if you are part of the generation that ditches the 80-hour work week, and returns to a sane investment in your professional life, the first generation in which young women no longer agonize over how to balance work and family, and young men stop thinking they will balance work and family by getting married, won’t you have done better than we did?
See the video below to hear Part I of the speech. Let me know your thoughts and how it changes your perception of “doing better”. You can catch Part II at https://youtu.be/RkBKcxOdqJo