The Most Important Graduations Come with No Diploma

James Cuth – Graduate Yourself

I remember the first day of graduate school like it was yesterday. Shaking hands with world renown professors and meeting some of the smartest students from all over the world. On the outside, I was confident, outgoing, and cool, but on the inside, I felt like a complete fraud. That little voice inside, that usually serves as my personal motivational speaker, had completely changed scripts and now recited a laundry list of False Evidence Appearing Real or simply put, FEAR based statements.

  • “What makes you think a B student can ever measure up to classmates with perfect SAT/GMAT scores?”
  • “When you fail, what will your family think?”
  • “How many African-American students even graduate from here?”

It was at this point that I had to make a decision. Would I give in to the barrage of negative voices swirling in my head or would I choose to graduate into my awaiting future self? I chose to graduate.

People often think of school as their last graduation, but in reality, it’s just one of many. Every time you elevate yourself personally or professionally you need to first graduate yourself into that new role. Negative thoughts, people or experiences can make you feel bound by a lesser self. However, you were uniquely made for greatness and only by pushing yourself to greater heights can you truly continue to grow.

Here are a few ways you can help graduate yourself into your new position in your personal or professional life:

  1. Seek advice from a seasoned veteran
    • Find someone you trust and respect that has already graduated through that position and seek guidance. Hint – If you are getting married, don’t ask newlyweds for advice J
  2. Give yourself daily pep talks
    • I know it sounds silly, but go to your bathroom mirror and give yourself a daily pep talk worthy of the great football coach Vince Lombardi. Personal positive affirmation not only changes your personal mental model but according to a study by Julia Boehm (a research fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health) “…optimism and positive well-being protects against heart disease.” Bonus!
  3. Channel your inner intern
    • Treat your new position with the same hunger that you had when you were an intern at work. This cements your position in the eyes of coworkers and more importantly, builds self-confidence. In the indomitable words of Jay-Z, “Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first.”

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