by Superintendent Luke Francois
Fifteen years ago, I read an Ann Landers column on advice for graduates that I cut out and kept. James Jackowski wrote the article for The Sun newspaper in Holyoke, Mass. and submitted the piece to Landers. Every year, several friends ask him to reprint it at graduation time and now I share this timeless piece with our graduates and the Mineral Point Community.
“How to Fail”
What strange tales I would tell if I were a guest speaker at a graduation, especially a high school graduation. To get at those minds still fresh from the accomplishment of 12 years’ education — what a great opportunity.
I would tell them something they never thought they would hear. I would tell them how to fail.
You know, anyone can tell you how to succeed. There are thousands of books on that subject. The blueprints and formulas are all there for anyone to follow. What is not found very often are the directions on how to fail. I would tell the graduates that success is never guaranteed, no matter how closely you follow the diagrams. Failure, however, is pretty much a certainty, and not just once, but probably several times in your life.
You will fail if you are inconsiderate of others. So many people think the world was created just for them, and they disregard the feelings of others. We must share the space on this planet with each other.
You will fail if you think anybody owes you anything because of your education. The only ones who are owed anything are those whose victories and defeats paved the way for all the opportunities available to you. Among those might be your great-grandparents who now live in a nursing home.
You will fail if you start your business life looking for a job that suits you. You must suit the job. Applying for any kind of work in a T-shirt and jeans will further enhance your chance for failure.
You will fail if you climb a corporate ladder by stepping on people. As the saying goes, “You will meet the same people on the way down.”
You will fail if you are intolerant of individuals with strange-sounding names and different color skin. Remember, you are just as different to them.
You will fail if you do not try to right a wrong whenever possible. You will fail if you see abuse and do not speak out against it. You will fail if you see corruption and do not fight it. You will fail if you suffer bad politicians and do not bother to vote.
You will experience the biggest failure of all if you believe the romantic notion that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” For in truth, anyone who has lived long enough to retire will tell you that love means just the opposite. It means being able to say “I’m sorry.”
Congratulations to all graduates everywhere.