‘Tis the season for graduations. I’ve so enjoyed seeing the many pictures on social media from family and friends rejoicing in their kids’ graduations – whether from kindergarten or high school, from college or medical school, these milestones are indeed something to celebrate.
I just got back from a quick trip to Las Vegas where I attended the graduation of the daughter of my best friend Donna. During the graduation ceremony, Eliza was honored with an Award of Integrity and was given the opportunity to share a few words of reflection. Twenty-four hours before she was to give the speech she still didn’t know exactly what she would say. But by the time she stood at the podium, shining brightly in her red cap and gown, she wowed the entire crowd with her words of wisdom.
She quoted a passage from Chapters of the Fathers, a compilation of the ethical teachings passed down to the Rabbis, that says “do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not crave honor; let your performance exceed your learning.” She further explained that although we are not always recognized for our work or achievements, we should always do our best without expecting recognition. That although learning is very important, it is better to be a good person than a good learner.
You could have heard a pin drop in the room. In just a few words, she perfectly summarized what her high school experience was like and set the path for her and the other graduates to follow in the years ahead. And if truth be told, her words serve as a great reminder for all of us.