A Season of Wrong – Marben’s Address to the Class of 2011

 1 For everything there is a season,
   a time for every activity under heaven.
  
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
   A time for war and a time for peace.

These classic biblical verses from the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes tells us that today is your season. 

  • Your season of celebration
  • Your season of achievement,
  • Your season of wonder and possibility,

Your season of one more lecture…. Namely the one from me today. 

I’ve attended enough of these ceremonies to know that commencement speakers are always scheduled relatively early in the line-up. There’s a reason for that.

It’s what Mark Twain called the “live frog” principle.

Twain used to argue, and quite convincingly, that one should swallow a live frog at the beginning of every day.

That way you’d know the worst part of your day was behind you.

Well, I may not be the worst part of your day, but I am the part of the day standing between you and that emancipation proclamation known as a diploma.

I’ve also attended enough of these ceremonies to know that what we commencement speakers say in these address is often forgotten and is more often than that wrong.

Wrong….because  The world changes

Wrong…because …..We just don’t know. 

Wrong…..because …..We are human. 

In this season of your graduation I would like for you to consider going with me to a place where we spend a considerable part of our lives……

That place is ………..Being wrong…. 

…..Think about it we are wrong and can be wrong about so many things. 

  • We are wrong when we: Drive 70 in a 55 mile per hour zone!
  • We are wrong when we:  Spent too much for that new outfit!
  • We are wrong when we:  Really eat more…….. than all we can eat…… at the buffet 

 

However, being wrong is not all wrong…… Being wrong truly opens up our world for so many possibilities.

So today…. in this season of your graduation…. I want to examine 3 things that I want to suggest we are wrong about ………and how you can be right about ……….as you move away from your season of graduation…….. to your season of life.  

The first thing we can wrong about is when we tell ourselves: that we are not creative.

Sure you might not be the next Picasso….JZ……or Lady Gaga …but then who knows …it doesn’t matter.   What matters as you enter the season of life is to not to close yourself down to the process of exploration.  

Failing is fine and necessary in fact, but avoiding experimentation or risk especially out of fear of what others may think is something that will choke off our creativity….. and that is wrong.

Former Apple marketing guru Garr Reynolds put it this way…..

“Failure is in the past….It’s done …It’s doesn’t exist….But worrying about “what might be”  are pieces of baggage that are heavy and will kill our creative spirit.   Take chances and stretch yourself.  You are only here on this plant once, and for a very short time at that.  Why not just see how gifted you are?  You may surprise someone…….Most importantly you.”

The second thing we can be wrong about is when we tell ourselves: that we can’t be a child again.

Nina my granddaughter has reintroduced me to a simple but wonderfully   effective word for unlocking mysteries, discovering the truth, and making corporate chiefdoms and political figures of all strip nervous.

That word?…….Is WHY

This is the magic of the word WHY

“Nina…. the world is a difficult place”

——–WHY?     

“Nina……try this ice cream it’s great”

———WHY?

And my favorite……..

“Papa WHY do you use all those big words when you make a speech?”

It’s wrong when we lose our Childlike wonder and ability to question –even when things are obvious. 

30 years ago Harry Markopolos was siting where you are with cap and gown in the season of his graduation from Loyola College in Maryland. 

After time in the Army, Harry went to work in the financial services field, he raised a family and earned a graduate management degree from Boston College in 1997.

In 1999 Harry was working for Rampart Investment ——–doing competitive research on a competing firm which was using a similar investment strategy as Rampart…. But they far outperforming them.  

I don’t know it was Harry’s childlike wonder or Texas style honesty but his  competitive research uncovered a secret —- The firm were that was far outperforming his……was running a Ponzi scheme.   

For a decade….. everyone thought Harry was crazy and flat out wrong.  As he fought a remarkable battle continuing to ask questions to alert authorities to the fraud:

  • But the government never acted
  • The firm continued its fraudulent ways
  • While unknowing investors…. lost everything 

Finally …. After 10 years Harry’s ” competitive research”  was taken seriously and all the WHY’s he was asking were answered 

Bernard Madoff Investment Securities – had milked it clients out of 150 million dollars.

In this season of your graduation…….. I urge you not to lose your sense of childlike wonder …..as you enter into the season of your life. 

It will sever you well…. As you question which ice cream taste best…… or which financial securities security firm to trust.  

The third thing that we can be wrong about is not understanding the value of “creative loafing”

Yes you are hearing it for a commence speaker I am saying it is not wrong:

  • To Idle
  • To Do Lots of Nothing
  • To Creatively Loaf

If you are like me I am obsessed with getting things done.  I am afraid to be unproductive. 

Yet it is the during those episodes of “laziness” of “wasting time” that the ideas both big and small can come.

Malcolm Gladwell is one of the best thinkers of our generation.  His books “Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers have sparked new ways of looking at:

  • How things become popular
  • How we make decisions
  • And how we become successful

Gladwell says this about the generation of ideas:  “Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.”

We can be wrong to think that the hectic pace of our lives is conducive to coming up with our best ideas. 

To keep that flickering candle burning we need time away from the fight. 

  • Take a walk
  • Go on a jog
  • To party

It’s is during those times that our creative spirit is energized our best ideas can flourish and our flickering candle can burn strongest. 

And it is during those times of rest….. that wrong ideas can be righted.   

It was a cold, grey December day.   Tried from work the small woman with silver frame glasses slumped into her bus seat to rest for the long ride home.   When she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger the woman was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance.  Rosa Park’s lonely act of defiance….. while resting began a movement that righted a wrong  ending legal segregation in America, and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere.

For everything there is a season,
 a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to love and a time to hate.
   A time for war and a time for peace.

A time to be right and a time to be wrong! 

Members of the class of 2011 in this season of your graduation I hope you can remember that it is OK to be wrong as you enter the season of your life. 

But it is not OK to be wrong when we tell ourselves: that we are not creative.

But it is not OK to be wrong when we tell ourselves: that we can’t be a child again.

And it is not OK to be wrong when we don’t understanding the value of “creative loafing”

 

Class of 2011 enjoy your Season of Graduation and God’s Speed As you Enter Your Season of Life.

 

 

 

 

 

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