Posted by: Don Linnen | 28 May 2012

Who’s Listening?

End of May. End of school. Commencement addresses abound. Is anyone really listening?

Michael Lewis posed this question Sunday on Meet the Press. Lewis is the best-selling author of Moneyball, Liar’s Poker, The Big Short, and 11 other books. He’s a funny, smart, and insightful guy.

I listened to him.  I tried to recall. I cannot remember one salient word from any of my commencement or commissioning ceremonies. I do remember hearing my name.

Maybe the expressed wisdom is really not for the new graduates. Maybe it’s for the old folks (those over 30) in the audience – the ones who wished they had listened better a decade ago.

Maybe it’s for future commencement speakers. There must be a gold mine of great ideas in good speeches to inspire new writers.

Maybe it’s for the tiny percentage of graduates who really do listen to their elders.

Imagine what could be done “if only I knew then what I know now.” If everyone listened to every bit of good advice then every hard, yucky problem in the world might get solved in the next decade.

My wise friend Mark commented on the ubiquitous commencement advice to “find a job you enjoy.”

He surmised that if everyone did that, not much would be accomplished. No one would stress or push or work late doing the tough stuff. No one would do the hard, yucky things that matter.

Maybe it’s good that most graduates don’t listen. Someone has to tackle the hard jobs.

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