At this time of year, our seniors in Darke County should be having their graduation ceremonies in the normal fashion: cap and gown, in the school gym or on the football field, parents and grandparents looking on, the diploma presentation, the commencement speeches, and everyone looking to the future.

This year our seniors did not get to have that tradition. I’m not sure how they enjoyed their “virtual” graduations, but it will be something they will never forget.

One good thing is they didn’t have to listen to normal graduation speeches from a school board member or special guest and their words of wisdom to live by. Don’t get me wrong, Some are very good and enlightening…some…not so much, but most are too long!

One thing these usually overlong speeches have in common is words to live by from the elders who seem to have done it! I have also learned a lot from reading what people who have been successful have to say, mostly people in sports, but others too.

I never give up the chance to learn from the people who have accomplished much in their lives. I have learned that they are not just famous people, athletes or coaches, they are people who have worked hard to achieve it, lived it and done it.

If I may, seniors, for what it’s worth, I would like to give you five things that I have learned in my sixty-six trips around the sun. My “Commencement Speech” to you.

Here are quotes from people who have achieved much in their lives. They have helped me, and should help you if you remember these wise musings; here we go:

“PERFECTION MAY BE UNATTAINABLE, BUT EXCELLENCE CAN BE ACHIEVED” – Tom Holman, Greenville H.S. football coach. I first heard this from Coach Holman who was very successful here in the 70’s because he constantly strived for excellence with us. He instilled in his players the drive to be as successful as possible, and to settle for nothing less. Remember, you are not now, nor ever will be perfect in almost anything you do, but you can be excellent, that is within your grasp, so go get it!

“YOU ARE NEVER AS GOOD AS THEY SAY YOU ARE WHEN YOU WIN, AND YOU’RE NEVER AS BAD AS THEY SAY WHEN YOU LOSE” – Lou Holtz – former football coach at Notre Dame, Minnesota, and South Carolina. You are going to win and lose at things in life. Roll with the flow! The good times will end, and so will the bad.

Circumstances often play a huge part in what happens, so don’t praise yourself too much when you win, nor degrade yourself when you lose. Just learn from it! You’re not that good, nor are you that bad. Remember that you are just human. Learn from your successes and learn even more from your failures. From your failures, mostly learn not make the same mistake twice!

“THE ONLY PLACE SUCCESS COMES BEFORE WORK IS IN THE DICTIONARY”- Vince Lombardi- Legendary Coach of the Green Bay Packers. This is self- explanatory, and is so true in everything you are about to do; in order to be successful, you have to WORK at it! Success will not just fall in your lap, opportunities will. When the right opportunity comes along, grab it, and then work at it and you will be successful! It really is that simple!

“IT IS NOT ENOUGH THAT WE DO OUR BEST, SOMETIMES WE MUST DO WHAT IS REQUIRED” – Sir Winston Churchill – former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and considered one of the greatest leaders in history. When we do our best, most of the time we are satisfied that was enough, and all we could have done. However, does the situation require something else? More study, effort, or a different approach?

Sometimes, you may not want to do more, but maybe the situation requires you to think outside your comfort zone. Never quit examining what is happening to you, or your work, and do what is required to make yourself successful.

Finally, the one that you should remember most:

“THE MEASURE OF WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT WE HAVE” – Vince Lombardi. Some of you will be rich, some famous, some just average. This class will be all over the spectrum, just like every other class that has ever graduated from any High School. No matter what life deals you, make the most of it.

Be as productive and positive as you can be with what is available to you. Don’t ever get discouraged because you do not have what others have; Do not envy others, use what you have to improve your life and the lives of others! Emulate the successful! Learn what good they have done to become a success in their field, and DON’T EVER GIVE UP! You should have the attitude that failure is not an option.

Use what God gave you to the best of your ability and you will be a success. I often tell young people that the definition of success is leaving this world better than you found it. If you can say that in the end, you have led a successful life!

There you have it, my “commencement” speech for the class of 2020 (notice it was short and to the point!) Right now, the world is in front of you, with a world of unknowns. DON’T BE SCARED OF THE FUTURE! It is yours now, so make the most of it, and someday you will live to be old too, and can pass on what you have learned. That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.

By Michael Stegall

From the Sidelines

Contributing columnist Mike Stegall a 27 year former OHSAA high school football official and current Darke County Commissioner

No posts to display