Guidance About Life after Graduation

Graduation Address to the Class of 2000, Huntsville High School, Huntsville, AL
by Laj Utreja, NAS Inc., Huntsville, AL 35805
I don’t know if I’m the right person to advise this young audience to prepare for life than someone else that is well attuned to their way of thinking and living I feel like a priest who along with his driver friend went to the Pearly Gates after their death. St. Peter who met them at the gates of heaven allowed the bus driver to go to one of the highest heavens but the priest had to wait. After waiting a long while the priest finally goes to St. Peter and asks: “Why could that bus driver go to the highest heavens and I, who all my life spoke about God, have to wait for such a long time?” St. Peter said: “When you were speaking to the people at your church everybody was sleeping, but when that bus driver was driving everybody prayed.” But let me try anyway.
Preparing for life is a big preparation and it is as big as life itself because we always keep on preparing and there is hardly enough of that. You are young with tender minds. In many cases maturity has not settled in to form convictions. So let us see as to where we are headed. You’ve already graduated from high school. And what does that do, prepares you for college. And what does that do? That prepares you for the yet next phase. And that may be to get a good job. And what does that do? It makes you financially independent? And that prepares you for the yet another phase. And that is to settle down, get married and so on and so forth. It is already started getting boring.
Well any how life is all those collection of preparations but it makes it worthwhile if we begin to enjoy what we are preparing because then we learn. And we all learn if we make those preparations ourselves. Now the idea is to make these preparations worthwhile so that we learn from them. It all boils down to how we perform to achieve those preparations. Everyone has some ways that suit their respective natures. But then there are some proven ways that need to be cultivated.
Let’s see how this will apply in life. Pick up a goal; Stick to it. Don’t be distracted or side tracked with others. And then work to achieve the goal. And that work is nothing but the preparation. Remember that is a must because to be a human being is to prepare to act. There would be constraints. Those can be financial and time and other resource limited. To work through the constraints requires planning. I’m again reminded of my first job with the US Navy when I began testing the parachutes for naval aircraft ejection seats and recovery of missile systems. I had no prior experience in parachutes. On one of the projects when I was really stuck, my boss, realizing my situation, called me in his office and said, “Remember the seven Ps and then three Ps.” I still remember those words to this day. I’m going to make them six Ps for you because one P is the Navy talk and then the three Ps. Here is what he said; “Proper Prior Planning Prevents a Poor Performance”. And with Patience, Persistence and Perseverence you can achieve anything in life. That little advice opened up an avenue for me to think through my project, set up priorities and workout the budget and time constraints. And when I followed those seven Ps and three Ps consistently, I received sustained superior performance award only after two years in service.
The real learning is cultivation of those values. That can happen by internalizing them, by making those values as part of our nature. Remember you’ve innate intelligence for discrimination and discretion; discrimination to pick up the right goal and discretion to set up the priorities. So, it is all about picking up the right goals and setting the right priorities. Problems come when we want everything and we don’t internalize the values. That reminds me about the yogi who walked into the Zen Pizza Parlor and said, “Make me one with everything.” And when the Yogi got the pizza, he gave the proprietor a $20 bill. The proprietor pocketed the bill. Yogi said “Don’t I get change?” The proprietor said, “Change must come from within.”
I wish you all the very best in pursuing your dreams in life.

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