“A word of advice don’t give it.”A.J. Volicos.

While I don’t discount the advice of A.J. Volicos, I’m prepared to ignore it in the spirit of the graduation season.

The members of the Class of 2019 graduated last Friday night from Oak Hill and Vinton County high schools and those from Jackson and Wellston high schools will fly the coop this Friday evening. Of course, all the grads have been and will be bombarded with well-meaning words of advice, guidance, instruction, and enlightenment on how to live their lives.

Therefore, I’m prepared to pass along some advice of my own -- not because I’m wise, smart or learned, but instead because I’ve learned from six-plus decades of living and from the many mistakes and judgement errors I’ve made along the way. Furthermore, I’ve tried to learn from and be inspired by others whose examples are worthy of attention and emulation. In fact, much of what I am about to write came from others.

Work, Work, Work – Intelligence, and being innovative, efficient and resourceful are all great traits, but there truly is no substitute for hard work and time on task. More often than not, the people who succeed the most are those who work the hardest and the longest while keeping focused on goals and objectives.

The famed inventor and presumed genius Thomas Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” One of the greatest Americans of all time, Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying: “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” And a poster outside of a fitness center reads: “You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for.”

Dream, Visualize, Toil – Most of the world’s greatest individual accomplishments started with a dream -- many of them which were considered unrealistic and seemingly unattainable in the beginning. But incredible things can happen when the dreamer is stirred to action and is undeterred by obstacles or setbacks that inevitably occur along the way.

Kaplana Chawla said it well: “The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it and the perseverance to follow it.” One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who said: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

The Importance Of Attitude – Physical and mental superiority, education and training, personal and family connections and wealth are all factors which can provide a young person with an inside track to success. However, none of these things measure up to something you cannot put a price tag on -- having a positive can-do attitude. This will propel a person to achieving good things and provide the armor to deal with the bad times.

Charles Swindoll declared: “I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitude.”

Former Jackson resident Al Burger, who was a teacher and basketball coach at Jackson High School for many years, passed out copies of a poem to his players which underscored the idea that winning is as much mental as physical. It was called “The Man Who Thinks He Can” by Walter Wintle. I will share only a portion of this perceptive piece of writing:

“If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t. If you’d like to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost a cinch that you won’t. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.”

Don’t Fear Failure – Our drive to succeed should never be derailed by fear of failure. Many of our greatest men suffered repeated failures before achieving their objectives. History tells us that Abraham Lincoln endured numerous political, professional and business failures and defeats before finally being elected President in 1860. However, he never stopped believing in himself and never stopped working for success. Another great man, Winston Churchill, who led Great Britain through World War II, declared: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Be On Time – Punctuality is often an indicator of being organized, responsible and considerate. You can and will be judged if you’re constantly late.

Workplace Contentment – Many years ago, I read a short passage in The Reader’s Digest that 62 percent of surveyed Americans reported they were unhappy with their jobs. To me, this was a sad commentary as work represents a major chunk of our lives. There are many factors that go into choosing a line of work and certain place to do that work. Sometimes, we have no choice, but to accept what’s available and certainly the level of income is important. However, if at all possible, choose a job that you like doing, and that either makes you happy or gives you a sense of satisfaction.

Be A Good Role Model/Listener – I will defer to the great American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson to make my point. Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” A corollary to this point is that oftentimes, it’s better to be a good listener than a good talker. And there’s a difference between listening and hearing.

We Are Family – Never take your family for granted. Always love them and let them love you back. And if there are family relationships that aren’t quite right, try to fix them.

If you would, read “If” – In my 8th-Grade English class at Jackson High School, teacher Ida Arthur required all of us to read Rudyard Kipling’s poem entitled “If” (reprinted here, in the sidebar section). Fifty years later, it remains one of the most useful lessons in living that I’ve had in my 64 years. Read and enjoy… and by the way, good luck to all our 2019 high school graduates. Now, the rest is really up to you.

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That’s About It… Be Seeing You.