I experienced something I never thought would happen. Twice.
Both of my children graduated from their respective institutions – my daughter from college and my son from high school. This year, as we all know, these events moved online. While we missed a lot about the traditions that came with graduations, there were things about the experiences that were truly unique. My daughter’s virtual commencement was a cool experience that certainly made the best of the difficult set of circumstances. It was a great blend of polished content from the university, combined with smaller celebrations that were “technologically distant, but empathetically real” according to one of the speakers.
Fast forward three weeks and it is my son’s turn. The graduation ceremonies started with the high school teachers hosting a car parade to honor the seniors. A few hours later during the virtual commencement, the first surprise came during the speech delivered by the faculty member selected by the students. Because it was a pre-produced video presentation, this teacher was able to get creative and insert some video greetings from a local TV meteorologist and an ex-Minnesota Vikings football player. How many of us actually remember our commencement address? I can guarantee my son will remember this fondly.
Surprise #2 came after the virtual ceremony ended; perhaps it was even more memorable. There was a second video that was assembled by the parent group that included graduation greetings from teachers, elementary and middle school teachers, local personalities, entertainers, politicians (including a US Senator), professional coaches, athletes, and more.
Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.
There was one particular speaker in this video that came from Guy Distad. Mr. Distad works in the entertainment industry — he has been working on a number of TV shows including Wizards of Waverly Place and Lab Rats to name a few. He hails from Northfield, Minnesota, which is about 30 minutes south of where I live. In his video greeting to the graduates, he said something profound. His first piece of advice to the graduates was to “always make the room better’. That one got my attention, as it sounds a lot like my North Star – Be a Light. That thought has been rolling around in my head since I heard it. I think it will be a great mindset to take forward here at home, and at work. Making a room better, Mr. Distad said, will improve almost any situation and others will notice. I think that is what being a light is all about, so I can’t wait to take it to work this next week.
I’m willing to wager that many of us do not remember all of the advice dispensed during commencement ceremonies and all that happens around it. Because of the current set of circumstances, technology made for a commencement experience that was truly meaningful and memorable. It was very memorable for this parent, too.
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