“Thank you, Lisa Coe, for sharing that quote from Nelson Mandela. What he says to us is so important. We can be great. Researchers demonstrated to us that talent and intelligence can be developed. It’s not too late to become great. When I was your age, we were placed into reading groups and those were fixed for the rest of our educational careers. We typically found ourselves either a bluebird or a blackbird.
But that was wrong. The brain changes and we can become smarter, stronger and better. The fact that you were being honored tonight for accomplishment shows that change is possible. Unfortunately, sometimes we buy into those messages that we hear from others that we’re not good enough and we begin to tell ourselves I can’t. When we do tell ourselves we can’t, unfortunately we’re right. We don’t and then we can’t.
There are several ingredients that we can use to make ourselves develop our talents and be great.
• The first is self-efficacy. We need to change that voice that we hear sometimes in the back of our head where we say I can’t and change it to tell ourselves instead I can, to change that recording. Whenever you are in doubt that you can, just remember tonight when you were being honored for accomplishment. Remember Sunday when you are walking across receiving your diploma in front of thousands of people who are there to honor you and tell yourself I can.
• Next, remember that mistakes happen and that’s where we learn. When everything is going well, some things are easy, we are not learning. We learn from and through our mistakes. Therefore expect them, and grow from them. Growing from mistakes will help us develop perseverance, the ability to continue when things are hard and we’re tempted to quit. If we know that we can, then we will learn from these difficulties and mistakes. We can hang in there and keep going even further than we might have expected we could. When we persevere, that enables us to get lots of good deliberate practice.
• Research tells us that persevering and achieving lots of good deliberate practice can help us accomplish things at a much higher level than we might expect. In fact, 10 years of practice is kind of a benchmark of what it takes to become great at something. That brings us to the last important ingredient for success and developing your talents.
• Now persevering and practicing can be hard work, so it is important to have a support group, and a supportive environment around you. Look around you tonight. You have lots of people here who are here because they care about you and they want to see you succeed. But we can create a supportive environment around us where it may not already exist. If you go to KV CC for example, they have a Success Center, with people whose job it is to help you do and become your very best. Count on these people as supporters to be around you to help make your journey lighter.
Spend your time working, practicing, and developing something you really love. We won’t mind working and practicing at something if we care about it and enjoy doing it. Therefore, find what you really want to do and go after it. Do it with passion and perseverance telling yourself that you can do it and you can and you will be great.”