Redefining Success as a Generation


With graduations underway, many inspiring speeches from podiums and platforms across the country intend to reach out and strike a chord with fresh-faced graduates everywhere. Some graduation speakers are , some are , and some are awful. My classmates and I listened to a graduating senior ramble on for 20 minutes about how success can be measured by the amount of money in we have in our bank accounts.

If this young lady had been acquainted with her fellow Gen-Y-ers, she might have recognized the fault in that logic. Recent surveys have found that we Millennials are interested in helping others, finding our niche, and enjoying our careers regardless of our stock options. Leaders in academics explained in a recent USA Today article that ”Millennials are graduating from college and are expecting to be engaged, involved and inspired by their work.”

We are a generation unlike any other with global communication, instant access to information, and a passion for following our passions. The era of starting a job at age twenty-five and retiring from that same company 30 years later is over. A recent study commissioned by DeVry University affiliates found that workers between the ages 21 to 31 could potentially hold 15 different jobs in our life time!

With all of these changes taking place, how we will measure success in the future? Rather than gauging success by numbers, promotions, and job titles, our generation seems to take a more holistic approach. We want to offer something great and unique and vital. We are creative. We are intelligent. We are determined to enjoy our work if we can help it. We want to turn what we love into what we do, and therefore never feel like we’re “working” a day in our lives.

We have a few hard knocks ahead, a few setbacks, a few failures. We are too idealistic and too inexperienced to know better, so we are excited to risk new, innovative ways of doing our work. Although we know that failure is inevitable, we are determined to try harder and fail bigger because of it.

I did not know the senior girl who spoke at graduation personally, but I wish I did. I wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee and watch sunlight dance on blades of grass while discussing success, happiness, passion, and hope for our futures. I would tell her that my bank account may stay a source of frustration in the years to come, but my heart will be full if I chase my passions rather than focus my life’s work on attaining a full purse. “That,” I’d say, “is success.”

Congratulations graduates! The world is our stage. Play on!


class of 2013graduation
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