Authentic Success and the Wisdom of Youth

In my opinion, young people today are, for the most part, wiser than I was at their age. They’re wiser because they have observed the mistakes of their parents and the adults that have raised them and are determined to live life differently.

My daughter’s best friend, an amazing, authentic young woman, was valedictorian at her high school graduation. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from her speech:

“I think that sometimes people are too terrified of failure, and they let it stop them,” Janelle told her graduating class. “You are never a loser for trying. Never. To be honest, one of my favourite quotes comes from Little Miss Sunshine, of all places. When the grandpa is questioned on what a loser means, he says, ‘a real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning, they don’t even try.’”

“There’s a preconceived notion surrounding us,” Janelle continued, “that condemns one to be a loser simply for not being the best, or being imperfect. Please, never, ever let yourselves be degraded into believing this. I implore you all to have faith in  yourselves; have faith in your dreams; Our goals are unique and deserve respect; we shouldn’t let anyone make  us inferior for holding on to them. Success doesn’t lie in brilliance or being consistently perfect in all your endeavors. You’d never learn anything that way. Authentic success is discovering, growing, breaking, fixing, and all things to do with uncertainty. Success holds holds a different definition for each person, and no definition is inferior to another. There are so many ways to be successful, and it’s something that each one of us is going to discover for ourselves…”

Thank you, Janelle, for the inspiration of your authentic presence, not just in this speech, but in the influence you have had in my life since you first connected with our family years ago. I’m a better person for knowing you. May we all be a little more attuned to the wisdom of our amazing youth, that have so much to teach us about living authentically.