Best Commencement Speech Ever

"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. If you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound reinvention."

- Conan O'Brien giving the 2011 Commencement Speech at Dartmouth College.



I've always been a fan of Conan O'Brien over all the other late-night entrants. You, yourself, are probably not a very funny person if you find Jay Leno humorous at all. And if you do, you most likely are enjoying his standup eating a mayonnaise sandwich with your cousin/wife in your trailer in the backwoods of West Virginia. I recently came across Conan's 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Address. It was the first one he's given in 11 years, because, in his words, he felt he didn't have anything left to say to graduates. But after his last year of "perceived failure" and "reinvention," his message is more clear and heartfelt than ever.

I LOVED this address. One of the funniest and real speeches I've heard - memorable to me for all of my own failures that I've endured.

"Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."

- Conan speech

Without my numerous setbacks over the years, I wouldn't be nearly the same man that I am today. While I feel fortunate to have succeeded in two different careers, it's this challenge of succeeding in two more that I find exhilarating. Without the setbacks I had in years past, I don't know that I'd have the resiliency or courage to even attempt another. Sometimes with success, you lose the ability to take risks. You get accustomed to a certain lifestyle and you fear what you don't know.

I am who I am today because of being punched by one of my best friends in high school, being fired in previous jobs, and for standing up to people when others shied away. These experiences left me alienated and anguished. But, my "perceived" failures have been more of a blessing to me than any of my "perceived" successes.

"There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized."

- Conan speech

For me, now, there is nothing more thoroughly rewarding than being in a beautiful relationship with someone after having previously tasted heart-break; nothing more gratifying than beating someone on the basketball court after being on the losing end one too many times; nothing more satisfying than succeeding in a career when once told to pack up your belongings. Today, my voice is more clear, my appreciation is more heartfelt, and my conviction is more steadfast.

In the ongoing march to the end, I wish you the courage to reinvent yourself and be happier in the midst of any of your own perceived failures. Trust me - you'll thank yourself in the end.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.
The SVB

P.S. I highly recommend you watch Conan's commencement address. We all need a little inspiration in our lives. And if you want to bypass all the comedy and get back to your mayonnaise sandwich, you can jump to 15:30 and watch from that point. Much love to you.

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2 comments :

  1. Along with humor and engaging audiences, it's a challenge to offer a diverse audience a message that will resonate and leave them with gifts for their journey ahead.

    Here's an example of a storied approach to this challenge. A collage of stories is used to offer students three gifts for their journey (judgment, compassion, and mercy).

    http://www.vimeo.com/24981140

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  2. "It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. If you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound reinvention." - This message by Conan O'Brien is very inspirational indeed. If I understood it correctly, it only means that we must embrace our failures and learn from them.

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