Nearly 200 graduates received their degrees on Saturday, Dec. 16, during Lander University’s 156th commencement. During the keynote address, Ironman triathlete, attorney and motivational speaker Jay Hewitt congratulated the graduates on “reaching the finish line,” but urged them to “look forward rather than looking back.”
Hewitt used his experience in the Ironman triathlon – the world’s most grueling athletic event, comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile marathon run – in encouraging the graduates not to settle.
“Embrace this moment and think about what you’ve overcome because I know you have overcome some obstacles,” he said. “This finish line is a moment in time that shows you can set a goal – a long-term goal – and you can accomplish it. Now, think about what you want to do with your degree, what is your next finish line?”
He then pivoted to a five-point roadmap to achievement reliant upon self-motivation, determination and focus.
Take control of your own success.
“Don’t expect others to do it for you. There are many people and many things that will help you succeed but ultimately the quality of your life is up to you. Dreams don’t work unless you do. Rather than chasing success, concentrate on making a difference in the lives of others and your employer. If you do that, success will find you, and more importantly, you will find happiness.”
“Obstacles, difficulty and change in life are going to happen. Success is not what happens to you; it’s how you respond to what happens to you.”
Don’t be afraid to fail.
“Failure is proof that you are trying. Be willing to fail but not willing quit. When you fail, it teaches you to keep trying. When you come back here for your college reunion in 20 years, you’ll be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.”
“You always have time for the things that are important to you, but you need to think about time for exercise, your health, your family and work. Use (and develop upon) the time management skills you’ve already established to succeed in college.”
Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
“You’re going to have stress and challenges in life, but to relieve that stress, don’t rely upon things like drugs, alcohol, smoking and eating. Instead, get hooked on things like exercise and the arts. Hang around people who do healthy things to relieve their stress through healthy lifestyles. Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”