From Steve Jobs to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Enduring Pieces of Advice From the Most Inspiring Commencement Addresses 'We are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.'
If ever you're in need of some inspiration, a surefire way to help light the fire is to get into the mindset of someone who is poised to make a big leap, like college graduates about to step off their campuses and into the real world. Here are just a few of the innovators, creators and leaders that have imparted hard-won knowledge on to the next generation.
Director Steven Spielberg, Harvard University, 2016
"Your intuition is different from your conscience. They work in tandem, but here's the distinction: Your conscience shouts, "Here's what you should do,' while your intuition whispers, "Here's what you could do.' Listen to that voice that tells you what you could do. Nothing will define your character more than that."
Bill Gates, Harvard University, 2007"Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries -- but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality healthcare, or broad economic opportunity -- reducing inequity is the highest human achievement … I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: "Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end -- because people just don't care. I completely disagree. I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with."
Sheryl Sandberg, University of California at Berkeley, 2016
"The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days -- the times that challenge you to your very core -- that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive... Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strikes, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined."
President Barack Obama, Barnard College, 2012
"Whether it's starting a business, or running for office, or raising a amazing family, remember that making your mark on the world is hard. It takes patience. It takes commitment. It comes with plenty of setbacks, and it comes with plenty of failures. But whenever you feel that creeping cynicism, whenever you hear those voices say you can't make a difference, whenever somebody tells you to set your sights lower -- the trajectory of this country should give you hope. Previous generations should give you hope. What young generations have done before should give you hope. Young folks who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, didn't just do it for themselves; they did it for other people."
Conan O’Brien, Dartmouth University, 2011"Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."
Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005
"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."