As many high schools, colleges, and universities prepare for commencements over the next month, many students will enter the "real world". As stated in the song "Closing Time" by Semisonic, "Every new beginning is some other beginnings end."
For students they may enter the workforce, the military, or choose to continue their education at one of this country's institutions of higher education. When the pomp and circumstance is over, each person will now have to make their individual decisions for the rest of their lives. Some will make good decisions, others, not so good.
In my house, we have volume's of the "Book of Dumbass" as we affectionately refer to it. Each day we live, we add another page, each month another chapter, and each year a new volume. My boys know that each decision they make has a consequence, both positive and negative, and my wife and I hope we have instilled good decision making qualities in both of our sons. For them making a bad decision is not the end of the world, as we all have made them in our lives. Life is a journey, not a sprint.
It is important throughout our careers and our lives that each of us remember that what we do is a journey, not a sprint. We need to enjoy all that our experiences offer us. You hear professionals comment all the time how the low points in careers made them stronger and better equipped to make tough decisions, or execute a plan, or a play in the future. The experiences we all have as professionals and individuals provide us the tools and resources to draw upon to make better future decisions.
As leaders, it is up to us individually to mentor those around us. Allow others to draw on our experiences, but also allow others to make mistakes as they create their experiences. Losing or failing should never deter anyone. Look at Abraham Lincoln. Business failures, bankruptcy, elections losses, and ultimately became one of the most important figures in American or for that matter World history. For him, life was a journey, not a sprint.
I had the privilege to coach youth football with someone in Oklahoma. One of the mantra's of that team was "Never, never quit". We would chant it before each game. It instilled an attitude of long term success, even if the short term results were not successful. Each player that played for him is developing into a winner in their own rights, both on and off the field.
As each person begins their next chapter in life, remember it is a journey, not sprint.