Over the years, I have had the privilege of listening to many meaningful graduation speeches. These speeches stirred the emotions and challenged the graduate to seek the greater good, climb the higher mountain, discover the ultimate cure for all cancers, or become the next U.S. President.
I have also seen many a “grad” nod off from boredom, silently wondering: When will this speech end?
My successes in life have been achieved by what might seem to be simple rules and habits, that when practiced, can carry you further in life during tough times and satisfy your inner and exterior needs. I have had the honor of being appointed to six gubernatorial and two presidential positions, my last as U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of California by President George H. W. Bush,
Build a foundation for the future. This means more education or experiences than what you gained from graduation. Were it not for the fact that I had graduated from law school (which took me six years) I would not have been offered a presidential position in Washington, D.C. by President George H. W. Bush as a member of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.
Discipline yourself. Strive to do what 95 percent of people don’t. Develop the habit of being early for all appointments, personal or business. People in positions of authority will notice. Discipline starts in the bedroom when you wake up. Make your bed daily, even though nobody sees or knows what your room looks like. This discipline will carry over to ethics. You will always do the right thing when others are not watching. This self discipline carries over to physical health. At my advanced age, I run 21⁄2 miles five times a week. My weakness is following a good diet.
Understand that bad things happen to everyone. Don’t dwell on the unfairness of life or make yourself out to be a victim. Nobody owes you anything. As one of 14 brothers and sisters from a “migrant farm worker” family, I lived on county assistance up to and including my senior year. I refused to become a socially dependent individual. I detested having to be dependent on others. Your goal is to be “independent” and ultimately achieve “inter-dependency” with others.
Always, always give something back to others. Regardless of your religion, practice your faith and respect the faiths of others.
Tony Amador of Lodi is a retired federal marshal and former director of the California Youth Authority. He is chairman of the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee.