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You can’t change the way you have lived your life, but you can change the way you live your life.


No, I did not deliver a college commencement address, but the idea of what I might say if I had the opportunity is intriguing.  What about you?  

(Watch a Motivational Commencement Address, Given by Jeb Blount, Here)

I read a recent newsletter from the Prouty Project where they used this idea for reflection and discussion with several of their partners and as I was flying into Chicago I thought about what I would say…

Thank you, Thank you, and Thanks Dr. Olson for that kind introduction.

Today is a unique opportunity for you as you leave this University and move on with your lives, but also for me, as I have the opportunity to share insights and thoughts about this world we live in, and your responsibility to impact. I use the word impact because that is exactly what I mean.

The degree of impact is not important- you don’t need to create the next penicillin, but you do need to create at least a ripple effect.  As a Boy Scout we were taught to always leave the camp site in better condition than when you arrived. The same is about the world you live in.

Leaving this world in better shape can take many levels or actions… I can remember when recycling began! That has evolved into a major wave effect on everyone’s life and the impact has been huge, but my challenge to each of you is consider your impact.  It may be daily; as I travel around the world I try to be kind, helpful to others and positive to the people I interact with at a hotels, airport, or restaurants.  What about you?

It may be impacting the lives of others through the Big Sister/Big Brother programs, serving in various charities and working to improve the world for others. You might even start your own personal effect. In my keynote program, I speak about certain people who have had an impact, from those starting National Hug Your Children Day to simply singing at a local hospice.  What about you?

What impact you make is proportional to the fullness of life you live.  I like to say:

  • You can’t change the way you have lived your life, but you can change the way you live your life.

Living my life at my current age is certainly different than when I left this university. Along the way, I am sure I wasn’t perfect, but as I have moved through my time here on earth, I have tried to lead a good life, a concerned life and a helpful life. I believe that philosophy has given me a better life, a more fulfilled life. Did I feel that way at 25, probably not, but over time I can now look back and say YES, that my life has been made better with a focus on.

My goal for each of you is to think about the life you want when it’s over, not necessarily today as it begins.  At the end, it is the experiences you make that make up your life, and creating an impact on others will make your life better. What about you?

Thank you.

About the author

Ken Thoreson

Ken Thoreson

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the…

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