Because it is the holidays, I am going to deviate from my typical eService that focuses exclusively on customer service and share with you a presentation I recently gave. I had the honor of being asked to present at my high school’s 30th reunion. I hope you enjoy this and find some things here that are applicable to your life’s journey.
Hello. It is great to be back. Wow, it has been 30 years! I am honored to be asked to address all of you! Actually , it’s been 34 years since we entered this school in the fall of 1978 as 14 year-old little boys, scared and in awe to be at St. Joes, to be a Viking, to be around these legends we read about. Amazed to walk down the hall and actually see Coach Gutbrod or Clark Kellogg live and in person. Like many of you I had older brothers who graduated from St. Joes and the stories I heard and the legendary reputation St. Joes had — WOW. While all my grade school classmates were going off to Iggy, Benny, Euclid & Brush, I was so proud to say I was attending St. Joes. I entered St. Joes as a 4″11, 85 pound little boy, but four years later I left as an intimidating 5″4 ½ man 125 pounds!
Our high school years were special: especially our senior year. We were in charge, we owned St. Joes. We were St. Joes! Some of the best memories I recall were attending the football games and watching our own classmates compete for a state championship. Let us not forget the infamous FOOD FIGHT that was so well orchestrated several days prior. We had responsibilities. I think the school started to get suspicious when people came to lunch wearing full body gear and a gas mask.
Ronald Reagan was President, gasoline was 90 cents a gallon, the 49′rs had just won the super bowl, Larry Holmes was heavy weight champion of the world, E.T. was the #1 movie and Let’s Get Physical by Olivia Newton John was the #1 song, which I played everyday in my Pontiac LeMans on my 8 track player. We graduated with huge dreams: to have extraordinary lives so we could one day live in the mansions, drive sports cars, and visit our beach house. We were destined to conquer the world, find the cure, become the next President, or Nobel Peace Prize winner. We had swagger. We had a bounce in our step. We had momentum. Our St. Joes experience gave that to us.
Since our graduation we went off to college, to the army, to work, we started careers, found ourselves, fell in love, moved away, got married, and started our own families. If memory serves, some of those families were started on prom night. Our time at St. Joes was a special part of who we were to become. We had bonds, we stay connected. I personally had five St. Joes Alumni in my wedding.
As we chased our dreams, we lost touch with many. But it didn’t matter because we always had the connection with the people who knew us back when — before the real world became our reality. Whenever we would bump into one another or reach out for any reason, it was like no time had passed, we still had that emotional equity, regardless of the terms we were on when we were back in school, there was that bond.
Today, as are closing in on 50, (Our parents were 50!) and life at our age is the result of choices we made up ’til now. If we are lucky, we’ll look back at a lifetime of choices and do them all over again — even the mistakes. Everyone of us has had a series of ups and downs, victories, accomplishments, mistakes, regrets and loss. That is the journey, that is our experience, life’s lesson, and the most expensive education we received.
We are together again after 30 years. Only we, classmates, here today, are the ones who really know each other. We knew each other long before the degrees, titles, careers, promotions, and accomplishments. We knew each other before we were husbands and fathers, before the fancy cars and bigger homes. We knew each other when we had the face full of pimples, we were awkward, obnoxious, immature, and had holes in our underwear.
Now what? I truly believe we are entering the best part — the next 30 years. I know no one wants to grow older, but while I loved my youth, I wouldn’t want to be there again. Because if we were able to be 20 again, we would lose the wisdom and do all the same mistakes over again. I want to be right here, right now, with the wisdom we have earned and cherish.
The 20′s were about chasing it, whatever “it” was. Our 30′s were about climbing it; the ladder to what we thought was success, building the family, the wealth, the toys; getting a good job, now needing a better one; making good money, now needing more; trying to do one better than the Joneses. The 40′s were about reinventing ourselves, having our mid-life crises. I thought each of us was only entitled to one, but somehow some people here have had at least two. Not sure if its fair or not.
Today, we know who we are, we know what really makes us happy:
- Helping others grow and crossing the finish line
- About being present
- Enjoying the journey
It’s about going to Rome to be in Rome, not cross it off your list and brag how worldly we are.
Over the last 10 years, I have a personal purpose statement, a vision of what I wanted to be, how I wanted to live my life, that has served me greatly through good times and tough times. I have this on my mirror in the bathroom, in my wallet, on my desk and that is reads:
Live an extraordinary life
so countless others do as well.
Today we realize it isn’t what we get: those material things that we thought meant success and give us the temporary pleasures. By reading it often and creating a plan, this statement keeps me focused and reminds me how…
Undeveloped potential cheats those around us (those we touch, influence and impact, as well as ourselves) of joy, satisfaction and opportunities. Living our life to its fullest potential is not an opportunity, it is our responsibility. It is an obligation to be the best version of ourselves we possibly can be, everyday. Not just for us and how our life will benefit, but for all the people depending on us: our spouse, children, friends, employees, co-workers, customers, and the community.
Remember what role St. Joes had in our lives. It gave us the swagger and a lifetime of relationships. This reunion comes at the perfect time. Let’s get that swagger back, let’s have that St. Joe’s pride again. Let’s dream big again. In our next 30 years we have the opportunity to truly do remarkable things, extraordinary things that matter. Things that help those we care about become extraordinary. I can honestly say, I have an extraordinary life today and St. Joes and the people in this room contributed to that.