It seems that everyone (including the media) is talking about Graduation. I guess it happens every year around this time. Presidents, Senators, and famous people deliver speeches that pass their “wisdom” onto the next generation. It’s a picture opportunity and a way to get free press. And it’s a great time to gather the family around and celebrate achievement.
Sometime, however, I think people take it a bit too far.
USA Today recently had a picture in their domestic news section of a very proud Father raising his son high above his head. The boy was wearing the familiar mortar board cap, the long flowing black gown and he was clutching a diploma, with a broad smile on his face.
He was graduating from Kindergarten. Newsworthy? I don’t think so.
Why do we fixate on graduation so?!
Looking back at my life and the graduations I’ve attended and participated in, I see them as milestones. Goal completions. Striving to do the best you can by a certain day. My younger son “graduates” from Middle School his year. To him, this is huge.
Remember all the hard work and study you did for your final exams? Was there something magical about the date of graduation? Nah. It was probably determined by it’s convenience on the school calendar. A date that would allow enough time for the teachers to get their lectures done and give the student enough time to get a job (so you can get enough money to return to your next course of study; or start a career).
I’m a goal setter. I believe that if you don’t write your goals down you’re not going to go to the heights that you are able.
I also think all business owners MUST set goals or tasks will take longer than they should to get done. And you won’t accomplish as much either. Imagine if students were allowed to complete their studies as they saw fit! Well, that’s how I was raised.
My high school was structured as a self-learning academy with only one teacher to serve the whole high school. We knew how much needed to be done by the end of high school, where the textbooks and syllabuses were, and they let us set the pace we wanted to take. OK, we also had strict encouragement along the way from the administration and parents. But we were also motivated.
Here are some things I learned along the way that I’ve introduced into my business life:
- We all need time limits. They need to be challenging or they’ll become boring. But they need to be achievable or we’ll get defeated.
- We need to have curriculum. Every teacher knows what needs to be done and writes a syllabus for the student to understand what lies ahead. If your employees are left in the dark, they’ll become disgruntled and feel out of control. The more detailed the list, the better.
- We all like to celebrate. On a regular basis we need to stop what we’re doing and be praised for making it this far. This is a happy time. Past failures are only mentioned as a necessary stepping stone to greater things. The bigger the celebration, the more the anticipation and effort to reach it.
When we start our career we leave graduations behind. I think it’s sad that we do. Sit down and write a list of things that you want your employees (and you too!) to do. Set a completion date goal and start planning a party. What a way to be motivated! Remember, that check points along the way are good to make sure everyone will reach the final goal. Sadly, some won’t make it but for those who do, it’s a victory. So celebrate!
As for Kindergarten graduations? I still think they’re bogus — considering that we’re training our kids to celebrate reaching a plateau that isn’t even challenging. Have you ever heard of someone who failed Kindergarten? Crazy. What do you think?