Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Class of 2013 Challenge

This is a copy of the Challenge given to the Class of 2013 at Senior Award's Night, May 9, 2013.

It is now my honor and privilege to challenge the Class of 2013. You are about to embark on the most important journey you will ever make – the journey of life. There will many emotions you will experience over the next two weeks – from sadness over the fact that this may be the last time you see many of your classmates to exhilaration that high school is over and college is about to begin. It can be a very confusing time to try and make the life altering decisions that you now face. I don’t have a wonderful catch all answer for you. However, as you leave high school and enter college there are a few thoughts I would like you to consider.

Since you entered the 9th grade you have spent roughly 2 million minutes in high school. That is far short of what other countries require. But what other countries don’t have is our American ingenuity and spirit. They try hard – even recruit our best teachers – but still they fall short. It seems that we still have the market on American spirit, creativity and ingenuity.

Did you know that only 18% of today’s 18 year-olds will have a college degree by the time they are 23?

Did you also know that the Department of Labor says that you will have 10-14 jobs by the time you reach age 38?

Even more - the top ten in demand jobs today did not exist in 2004 (10 years ago). During your college years you will be preparing for jobs that do not exist, using technology that hasn't been invented, to solve problems that do not yet exist.

Which leads me tonight to focus on 6 critical skills that I believe will be necessary in the days and years to come.

The first - Technology –
·        Doubling every three days which means half of what you learn in your first year will be outdated    by the time you finish college
·        How far have we come…
o   15 years ago Google was introduced. In 2006 there were 2.7 billion searches a month. Today 31 billion.
o   Ebay was just catching on. Amazon was just a book company.
o   We rented our movies from Movie Gallery or the local video rental store. Today iTunes, Netflix and RedBox fill that need.
o   Five years ago There was no android  iPhone let alone an iPad! Today they account for 72% of Apple’s Revenue – Where’s the Motorola Razer now?
o   Five years ago – No Facebook today 1 Billion users in over 70 languages 
o   Five years ago no Twitter. Today over 340 million tweets a day.
o   Finally today, Technology is everywhere. You can’t get away from it. As a matter of fact there are vacation spots now advertising their locations as off the grid. Commerce, Banking, Research. Even at MHS -Every member of the senior class with a Macbook – and Coach Patterson’s textbook is in the cloud!!

Secondly, Critical Thinking – I’m not talking about who’s buried in Grant’s tomb or what color was George Washington’s white horse. Or the problem – there’s a dead Bull frog in center of a 25 foot pond. How many jumps does it take to get out. Learn to assimilate all the information in the problem. As I said earlier,  you will be in jobs that currently don’t even exist, solving problems that we don’t know about, using information and technology that has yet to be discovered.

So Technology, Critical Thinking and the third - Adaptability – We have to be flexible and able to adapt quickly to new situations. Sometimes the race is lost in the first step. You should be life-long learners. We are never too old to learn. Set a goal to read so many books a year and not just non-fiction. Dave Ramsey, the Financial Peace guy, says the person you will be 5 years from now will depend on the books you read and the people you meet.

So technology, critical thinking, adaptability, and now fourth is Cooperation – We must learn how to work together. In proverbs we learn that a rope of many strands is much stronger than the single strand.

Fifth is Leadership – some take it unwillingly; some have it thrust upon them. You cannot lead where you will not go. Make no mistake -You will lead - good or bad.

So technology, critical thinking, adaptability, cooperation, leadership and finally ---
Service – Do unto others. He who wants to be first must be last. The lesson from the Bible from Jesus is we must have a servant’s heart. Look for ways to serve. It is incredible what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.

John Wooden the legendary coach from UCLA 10 national championships in 12 years got the following advice from his father and kept it in his wallet all his life
Four things a man must learn to do
If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion more clearly
To love his fellowman more sincerely
To act from honest motives purely
To trust in God and heaven securely.
You heard me and your teachers say many times that you represent the future of our country, and I’m confident that each of you will find your special place in society.  Before me tonight are future leaders of business and industry, doctors, lawyers, CPA’s, and many other productive professions. As we enter this new world economy, we must be mindful not only of our opportunities, but also our responsibilities that come along with those opportunities. It has been said, critically I might add, that many schools today are producing a Rip Van Winkle generation – that is an entire generation of kids will fail to make the grade in the global economy because they can't think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad or speak a language other than English.  To prepare for the competitive world you are about to enter it is more important than ever that you effectively prepare yourselves to compete against the best in the world. Skeptical --

One more fact – during my talk tonight there will be 67 babies born in the US, 274 in China, and 395 in India. The world you are about to enter will be even more closely connected that it already is. You will compete against the best the world has to offer. One more fact – India has more students in the top 10% of their classes than we have students!

You have an exciting and challenging future ahead of you and I challenge you to run the race with endurance as we are told in Hebrews 12:1, but also finish strong. I am reminded of the determination of the marathon runner John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, Akhwari cramped up due to the high altitude of the city. He had not trained at such an altitude back in his country. At the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race, there was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell badly wounding his knee and dislocated that joint plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement. He however continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). As the Olympics we ending, the announcer asked the spectators to look toward the entrance to the stadium were a lone runner was entering. Badly bruised, injured and hardly able to run, he made it around the track to finish several hours after the first runner had crossed the finish. When asked why He explained that “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."

Class of 2013 – make your mantra to not only run the race with endurance and finish, and not only finish, but finish strong.

Thank you and God Bless…