By Rob Ficiur
High School graduation season is upon us. At my son’s recent university graduation there were a couple of stories that had real life application to graduates (and the rest of us).
The keynote speaker at the graduation was the Chief Financial Officer for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Fraser Bullock shared the following story:
1. Looking Up creates a better ride- Just before the Olympic Games took place, Fraser Bullock had the opportunity to try out the skeleton run. In the skeleton race the rider lays on a sled, face up about eighteen inches above the ice. The racers go down a track up to 85 miles per hour. When Bullock took his first run he put his head down staring at the path inches below him. As the skeleton raced down the track each curve made him think his life was that much closer to the end. When the race was over, one of the athletes asked him how the race was. When the reply was less than positive, the racer said you have to look up and looked down the track. He told Bullock of some simple things to do to steer the skeleton.
Bullock went right back up and raced again. This skeleton run was totally different from the first one. Now Bullock was looking up and seeing the curves that were coming down the road. He quickly learned how shifting his weight a little bit steered the skeleton. There was no fear in this second run because he could see where he was going and he felt he had control
Graduates, no matter where you go, looking up will give you a better ride in life. Looking down will not give you a full view of life’s course. Looking up will help you see what is coming and have a better sense of control to meet the curves along the course of life.
2. Cheer for your parents- As young people grow up their parents and family members attend their many events. Parents are often the loudest cheerers at sporting events and plays. At my son’s graduation the 5948 graduates were asked to stand and applaud their parents and family members for their support. None of these graduates got their degrees without encouragement from many people.
In our teenage lives it can be easy to accept the praise and applause for the good things we do. This positive encouragement helps young people achieve their goals. The other side of the coin is to cheer and applaud your parents and family who have supported you. Long after your High School friends have gone on different paths your parents and family will be there to cheer you on. The older you get the more you will realize how much your parents have sacrificed for you. Thank them for their support every time you realize that your parents were not as dumb as your teenage self though they were. Gratitude is the best attitude.
3. You can overcome obstacles along the course of life- In 2004 Matt Bush was the first overall pick the Major League Baseball draft. This week Bush pitched his first ever big league game. Bush’s 12 year trek to the Major Leagues had many self-inflicted crashes. Alcohol abuse led Matt into many legal and baseball difficulties. In 2011 he was charged with attempted murder when he ran over a 71 year old. After serving his two year jail sentence he was released. With the help of his father, the 30 year old, now sober, made his way back to his baseball goal.
Bush is far behind the 2004 second overall pick, Justin Verlander. Verlander has pitched in 326 Major League games compared to Bush’s one. Life is not about competing with the next person. Matt Bush has had to rebuild his life. He is a success for overcoming the obstacles that he faced.
Graduates, each of you will face challenges in the years to come. Everyone’s challenges are different; but the Matt Bush story shows the solution. Bush got control of his life (he was already an alcoholic when he was drafted at age 18). Who is helping him? His father has helped with the day to day needs since his release from prison.
4. Look up and see the great people around you- A week after the evacuation of Ft. McMurray the stories of selfless service and giving have flooded the news. Strangers have opened their homes; given their time and resources to help other strangers. Human nature (and the media) focuses on the negative stories. In real life there are always good people serving others in need. Graduates, when you need help, look around. There will be those willing to offer a hand. Graduates, make it a habit to look around to see who you can serve. Serving others will give you a chance to look up and see more clearly what the course of life looks like.