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Lead and Grow with Fortitude

Dear Graduate…

This is the season of graduation and advice. I love the commencement speeches. Most I have heard over the years are full of wisdom. Sadly, the graduate forgets much of the knowledge imparted by the speaker in roughly 5 minutes or less after the completion of the speech.

Understanding the above I will undauntedly endeavor to impart my knowledge on the graduate. I realize there may be few new graduates reading this newsletter, you parents and friends, feel free to pass along this short bit of advice.

Now that you are a new graduate ready to face the world take these three short bits of advice. It will be free from preaching, and the wonderful stories to illuminate the advice. This is short, to the point take it and avoid some pitfalls or leave it and find out on your own.

I am making one assumption that in time you the graduate wants to become a standout, a leader, in your chosen field. If you want to be just one of the pack, pass this article to someone else.

My advice—continue to learn, school is not out. You are just starting. Remember you have a backbone—use it or lose it. Develop a heart; the heart is not sympathy it is empathy.

Continue to learn

Learn something new every day. It is not hard. Spend three minutes, read or listen to something about your desired profession, your job, or just something you do not know anything about. Leaders are always curious and never stop learning.


You were born with a backbone—use it! Stand for something. What are your values? Write them down on paper; define them and live them. Caution, if you subscribe to more than five or six values, you have no values. We are all human. As much as we would like to think we are all Saints, news flash—none of us are!

Give yourself a break; don’t attempt sainthood. But do be a person who is known for having character. Define your values and live them. It will be noticed. If you have no values, that is called unscrupulous; that is also noticed.


As with backbone, you were born with a heart—protect it! Be empathetic, not sympathetic. Progressing through life you will share in the ups and downs of family, friends, coworkers, and eventually, team members you will be leading. Sympathy is not just understanding the pain that all of us will eventually have in life, it is sharing that pain.

Empathy is the understanding of the pain life brings into the lives of others.

In time, you will be responsible for getting the job done, mission accomplishment. Getting embroiled in the emotions of others, being sympathetic will cloud your judgment. Leaders cannot afford to make decisions based on emotions. These are the decisions that always, yes, I said always, come back to haunt you.


God bless all of you members of the Class of 2016. Continue learning, keep that backbone strong and protect your heart.

I wish you all “Fair Winds and Following Seas!”