2011 High School Seniors Access to Life Event
What’s good Seniors! When I graduated (Skyline) we ran the faculty crazy shouting ‘99! What do ya’ll say?
I’m proud of all of you. Congratulations on making it this far. When Mickel told me about the event I was excited about being a part of it. So thank you Mickel. Thank you to the teachers, parents and sponsors.
You know my nephew will be right where you’re standing next year. He’s a Junior over at Garland High School. As a matter of fact, I called him and told him I’d been asked to speak to some High School seniors and asked what he thought I should talk about. I imagined I’d hear… “Huh?” or some “Madden” in the background or “angry birds”. I said “So Marcus, what do you think I should talk about?” “Well… maybe it would benefit this group to stress the importance of relationships and how acceptance can be a distraction from reaching one’s full potential.” To which I replied… “Huh?”
He’s an exceptional young man. And I think you all in the room are as well. So I want to give you 2 things this evening. “Be Necessary” and “Purpose”.
I know adults in the room are like… “How is he going to fit ‘purpose’ in a 10-minute speech and why has it taken me 30 years to ask myself.”
Be. Necessary. When I say it I mean it just like that. No gimmicks. No word tricks. Just that every step you take from this day on, let it be a necessary one to becoming something that is useful. You want to be an architect, apply to the University of Arkansas, apply for their many scholarships, do well at the University of Arkansas and become an architect. You want to be an attorney, score a 165 or above on the LSAT, apply to Howard University School of Law, pass the bar and become… an attorney. But be always taking the steps necessary to becoming what you want to become. It’ll be tough. There will be risks. Remember, it’s supposed to be a challenge.
There is no passion to be found in playing small and settling for a life that’s less than one you’re capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandella.
Be exceptional. You are all designed to be exceptional. You just have to believe it and find out for yourself. In fact, if you’re sitting in the room, you’re already doing what is necessary to have a promising future.
I started an organization while at the University of North Texas. I’d let things get a little crazy. It was a modeling organization so we had over 50 models, like 5 or 6 photographers and a few business students all in my ear about ideas… and my own studies. It was wild. Just before a fundraiser I was talking to my uncle Larry and reminded me…
“Hey kid, don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember why you started the group and why it’s important. Just be necessary.”
He was talking about concentrating you efforts on what mattered most. When you follow that simple rule ~ be necessary ~ you find yourself always being the one to bring something to the table. In discussions you’re counted on for answers. In groups you’ll be looked at as a doer and not just a talker or a nay-sayer. Being necessary means what you’re doing makes sense for you and most often a number of other people. So…? Be necessary at what? Let’s talk about purpose. Let’s talk about the why.
Now for purpose. Over the years I’ve noticed folk just being all over the place ~ me included. Not really knowing what to do with their lives. Trying everything everyone else is trying. And to an extent there’s nothing wrong with that. Do you want to be the one just doing “something too”? Or do you want to be the one with a purpose? When you’ve got your purpose in your back pocket you can do more and be happier about it than most other people ever get the opportunity to be. So how do you find yours? Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Am I good at it?
Does it bring me joy?
Does it benefit others?
Are you good at it? Is it a gift? Do your skills at this thing really put you a cut above? I’ll give you a few seconds to get in your mind what that is… What are you good at? Over time you’ll come to realize you’re good at many things. Most exceptional people are. So there has to be more to it than that. Your purpose can’t be too many things because that would just drive you nuts. Trust me.
So now ask yourself does it bring me joy? Do I truly feel energized when you do this thing? I love reading contracts. It’s just a thing of mine. I don’t get it. Something about writing rules and regulations that I just get a kick out of. It’s my thing. But what out there brings you joy? And are you also good it at too?
Finally Does it benefit others? I’ll bet if you’ve written down what makes you happy, and what you’re actually good at and put it with what actually benefits other people you’ll have a much shorter list and a much brighter future.
We’re only here a little while. No one in this room is going to live forever. But the work you do for others could… and it’ll be a lot of great works if you love what you’re doing and you’ve taken the time to get better at it.
If it’s your purpose, and you can only do it for so long, look to this list to determine what it is. What you’ll find is that it’ll match up well with all of what we just talked about. Am I good at it? Do I love doing it? Can I do it to benefit others? That’s purpose.
Being necessary is an interesting thing to wrap your head around. Just keep pounding away at the idea and I promise it’ll do you some good. I didn’t talk much about motivation. Because again, if you’re in this room, you’re motivated. If you’ve come this far, you’re motivated. I didn’t mention teen pregnancy (until now), or teen violence because you’ll get enough of that from the world. Don’t be distracted. Like my uncle said to me… “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Do what you’re here to do and you’ll set the example of what the future is supposed to look like for many generations to come. Some of you have younger brothers and sisters. Live with a purpose and they’ll be encouraged to follow suite. Live with a purpose and you’ll create, like my nephew said, the best relationships imaginable.