A friend of mine recently told me to watch the video of Conan O’Brien giving
the commencement address at Dartmouth College last spring. As I expected,
the first half of the address was riddled with Conan’s typical humor, which was
honestly what I thought the WHOLE address would be. But it was the second
half that really caught my attention and – even though I’m not a recent college
graduate – really inspired me.
Growing up, each one of us has a role model; someone who we strive to be
and model our life or career after. Someone who is THE ideal for whatever role
we see ourselves in. In business it might have been Steve Jobs; in Real Estate
it might be Donald Trump; it changes for every industry, but at some point in
our lives, each and every one of us will utter the phrase (publicly or privately) “I
want to be the next _______.”
Think about who your heroes are.
Who do you want to emulate?
What is your perceived ideal?
While we might try as hard as we possibly can to become what or who we’ve
concluded is THE ideal, it’s important to remember that we’re only human.
Conan says that no specific job or career goal should define us. Life isn’t
always fair and we’ll inevitably fail at one point or another. But, as Conan
notes, it is THROUGH this failure that we recover, adapt, and ultimately
grow into our own unique version of the person we want to be – maybe even
raising the bar for generations to come.
Think about the times in your life when you’ve failed.
There’s probably nothing worse than the sting of failure, especially when you’ve
worked hard. But there’s always a lesson to be learned. Sometimes it’s a life
lesson, and sometimes failure is what pushes you to learn a new skill or embrace
a new idea. No matter what type of lesson your failure pushes you to learn, it’s an
opportunity for growth, self-improvement, and success.
One of the most important things that Conan talks about in his address is not
being afraid to fail, because whether you fear failure or not, you will still be
disappointed. But it’s through that disappointment that your unique life starts
to take shape. That failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention and
is what will help shape your dreams and ultimate success.
And remember, no matter what you dream is today or what it evolves into
tomorrow, as Conan said…
“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”