HINDSIGHT - WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING ABOUT OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING ABOUT
Friday, May 13, 2016
At the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Commencement with NU President Morton Schapiro and Graduate/Courage Award Winner Patricia Boone
HAT COMMENCEMENT REMARKS
I want to start by thanking you for the invitation and the
honor of speaking to you today. I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but I
also have really bad tennis elbow and I didn’t deserve that either - so I guess
that these things eventually even out.
I’d also like to thank my friends JB and MK Pritzker for
their amazing generosity and for anchoring the Law School’s future for decades
to come. Our city and our school are beyond fortunate to have them.
Finally, I want to assure you that the investment you’ve made
in your legal education is a wise one. In the last 45 years since I graduated,
I don’t think there’s been a single day when I haven’t put the analytical,
organization, and presentation skills I first learned at the Law School to
exceedingly good use.
Lincoln Hall changes the way you look at the world – mostly
in a good way – and the rigor, the arguments, the grit and the perseverance
that it takes to excel in this special place have prepared you, have
distinguished you, and will set you apart going forward in whatever you choose
to do with your lives. Your most important and first job is to choose wisely.
These are powerful skills – not to be wasted – not to be
withheld for fear of failing - and, mostly importantly, not to be frittered
away. In my world, failure is an everyday occurrence and an accepted part of
the landscape. The best entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of failing – their greatest
fear is spending a significant part of their lives doing something insignificant
that doesn’t really matter or make a difference to much of anyone.
Every one of you is better than that – you shouldn’t settle
for anything less. There’s always a best seat in the house – a best row at the
show – and while you may not always get it – shame on you if you don’t go for it.
It pays to aim high. Feasibility will compromise you soon enough.
Now here are a few things that I’ve learned and unlearned
in the last half century which I hope will help you as you head out into the
(1)Not Everything Worth Doing is Worth
Striving for Excellence is Stimulating and Rewarding – It’s a
Shooting for Perfection is Neurotic and Will Simply Drive You
Can Afford to Be Perfect Even If It Were Possible
Most Things Today, Good Enough is Enough to Get Started – Then You Can Grow
Matters More than Focus – You Want to Do a Few Things Really Well - You Can Do
Anything You Want, But Not Everything
to Become a Great Editor – You Need to Quickly Learn How to Say “No”. Not “Maybe”.
Not “Later”. A Simple and
Strategy is About What You Say “No” to.
Rest of your Lives will be all about Triage and Choices – too many
opportunities – too little time.