Advice For My Graduating Daughter


I was asked recently what advice I would give to my 18-year-old daughter, Elena, as she graduated high school this month and moves on to college in the fall.


My first thought was a family favorite quote that we share a laugh about every ski season. It was originally offered by a ski shop owner in the Idaho mountains when my kids were little and we were renting skis for the season. Jerry, the ski shop owner, sent my kids, and I suspect countless others, to the slopes with the following words of wisdom:


“Go fast, take chances, and remember, whiners go to daycare.”


I love Jerry’s message because it speaks to being bold, taking risks, and being unafraid. I have few regrets in my life, but those I do have are mostly times I failed to take a chance, try something new or put aside my fears of failure or criticism. What could I have accomplished had I ignored those fears and tried something new? What opportunity did I miss on a road to possibly doing something truly great?


There is also a message of gratitude in Jerry’s simple words, as he references where whiners go. The best and most successful people I know are truly grateful for what they have and when things don’t go as planned, they rarely complain or whine. Rather, they learn from the experience and try to focus on the positive in each situation.


A more famous quote by Teddy Roosevelt from 1910 has a similar message:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


As I share these words with her tonight, I hope she’ll take them to heart and take those chances, ignore criticisms from those in the “cheap seats,” which now are easier than ever to sit in, and achieve the great things she is capable of both in college and beyond…


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