A Message to Graduates of 2006 and to Significant Others

Recently, your columnists had the opportunity to speak with a number of graduating seniors in several different venues. Further, we are honored to have been invited to speak at a number of 2006 graduation commencement ceremonies. We are looking forward with growing enthusiasm to these significant events. If we were to speak to all of the 2006 graduates wherever they are, the following is a sampling of our thoughts we would wish to share with them.

Dear Graduates: You have achieved a milestone in your life and this graduation event indicates just that. We enthusiastically commend you. We too have been there, done that, and we know what it takes to get to this very point in your life. We commend you for YOUR accomplishments and achievements, your determination and will and your eagerness to put your creative working energy to the wheel of life tasks. It has not always been easy, we know that. Your desire, your perseverance and your degree of ambition are all virtues for which you will be known. They are your personality fibers which are a rich part of your character. And they will be a part of your "school-days" legacy. These character fibers are, in addition to other personal qualities, significant building blocks you will draw upon as you move forward from here. Be reminded, where you are now in your life is, in part, where you have been. You have achieved a certain level of academic success and that success will serve you well in the days and years ahead.

We want to share with you several core thoughts... person to person, heart to heart. You know, the sun comes up every morning, and a new day begins every twenty-four hours. In a sense today, right now, is the beginning of a new day for you. It is a special timely event for you, with hopes, dreams and aspirations. There is a new day now beginning with renewed possibilities .....when we search for it.

Think about it...somewhere out there in the future...some of the finest buildings and highways are yet to be built; YOU MAY BE THE ONE TO BUILD THEM. Some of the greatest pictures are yet to be painted; YOU MAY PAINT THEM. Some of the finest prose and musical selections are yet to be written; YOU MAY WRITE THEM. And, some of the most thoughtful and dedicated people are yet to be identified; YOU may be one so identified.

It is true, as we pass through this life of ours, we have far more questions than what we have answers. Where are we headed? What will be our future? What will be in store for us tomorrow, next year, the next five years? You known, you can be, in part, the architect, the author, if you will, to the answer to some of these questions.

There is a whole world out there waiting ... waiting for someone or somebody to help to make a difference in the life of just one person. YOU may be that person who can make just such a difference. And so, as you go on your way throughout your life, in whatever capacity you find yourself, we would like to share several observations or keys you may find useful.

The first KEY is... what it takes to succeed in life is ordinary and incredibly simple but it won't be easy. We urge you to do ordinary things, but do them in extraordinary ways.

Work hard in whatever you do. And you will truly find a heightened level of success and satisfaction.

A second KEY we leave with you... Listen to you conscience and follow what your heart whispers to you. Your heart is like a compass which, in many ways, guides you as you chart your course in yet uncharted waters. There is an ocean of possibility that awaits all of us. Chart your course with a positive attitude, determination, and perseverance. Persist and strive to be all of which you are capable of being.

The third Key is particularly poignant today. You know you may have found yourself poor, disadvantaged, and see yourself as one who lives on the "other side of the tracks." You may have thought of yourself as unpopular, unwanted, or unloved. But much of this feeling, we have found, builds the nature of a person. It builds character and a quality of kindness and understanding for others. Take pride in yourself, and your heritage, and your background. Your heritage is that ingredient that makes you so richly and distinctly "YOU." Remember, you are precious to someone or even to many others. It may be family, or a close friend, a teacher, or someone you may least expect. So, take pride in yourself....and who you are and can be. You are precious and important. And so the third KEY is: have pride in yourself.

And KEY Number four centers on criticism. Display courage, persistence and resilience in the face of criticism. The trouble is with most of us, we would rather be ruined by praise than to be saved by criticism. You know, constructive criticism is an important protein of growth, personal development, a building block to success and happiness. Criticism is not always meant to be hurtful or harmful; it may seem that way, for sure. Truly, it can be uniquely helpful; rely upon it, treasure it.

And the fifth KEY we have found most useful: avoid holding grudges or being angry for too long. Too soon, its twin brother "depression" joins "anger" and with that combination of depression and anger, the spiral begins a volatile downward slope into the deep abyss of inner turmoil and frustration. Avoid the rut of holding grudges.

KEY number six: be prepared. That is what your certificate of graduation means right now. As we see it, one steers a much straighter course when we gaze far enough ahead; when one looks at the far reaching distance rather than when we focus on the "tiny spec" just before our eyes.

Be prepared to take advantage when opportunity knocks on your door.

There is a seventh KEY, it is... Be caring and considerate of others. Be kind to one another. Listen twice as much as you speak. Be gentle and caring. It has been said: people really don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

And the eighth KEY: Be determined even in adversity.

Life has its "good days" and it hard knocks. But the most successful and happy people we know, have experienced wins and losses, triumphs and defeats; but successful people face adversity with a toughness of spirit and a resilience of attitude. Remember it is your attitude which determines your altitude. Keep your mind on lofty thoughts, hopes, and possibilities.

Put your heart into your attitude. That is KEY number nine. Be a "good finder." Look for the "good" in others. They say that an ounce of gold is covered by tons of dirt. Look for the shinning, glimmering gold of the precious personality in others. And when you look for the gold in those round you, you will discover something that is really more lasting and permanent. You will find in the depths of your own heart-- the ability to like, to appreciate, and to enjoy others. And what a gift that is!

And, the last KEY, as you chart the course of your future: you have a precious, "built-in" personal radar system. This radar system will serve you well. Perhaps you will not remember much of what we have written here.

But we urge you to take six words with you from this message. We suggest that you store these SIX words in your memory bank for immediate retrieval when the need arises. Our message can be summed up in these six words:

Dear Graduates: FOLLOW THE VIRTUES OF YOUR HEART.

Sincerely, from your columnists Heichberger and Burr. And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.