Lake Region Class of 2018 Graduation Speaker: Paul True, AD

Paul True,

LR Athletic Director

Guest Speaker

Class of 2018, I am deeply humbled to be able to share a few thoughts with you today. I have been blessed to be able to speak at many different venues and to audiences of different sizes, but today is the most meaningful group that I have the opportunity to share some parting thoughts. I have also participated in some pretty big games, but I never felt the pressure that I am experiencing today.

To quote the famous philosopher Marshall Mathers, aka Slim Shady, aka M & M, “My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on my sweater all ready, Mom’s spaghetti. I’m nervous, but on the surface, I look calm and ready. But I keep forgetting what I wrote down and the words just won’t come out, I’m losing it now. I’ve only got one shot, I don’t want to blow this opportunity!”

So, I am going to “lose myself in the moment” and share some thoughts with you!

This may not be an ordinary speech, but rather offering a few “Keys to Success” like I have done hundreds of times before a basketball game. So here you go…Class of 2018, suggested Keys to Success:

Make your bed.

I first heard this concept, during a 2014 Commencement Address by Admiral William H. McRaven.

The thought behind this first key is this: If you wake up each day and accomplish this simple task of making your bed, it will encourage you to accomplish another task and another and another. I like to think of this as focusing on the process and not the outcome. You see, when you focus on the little things; a ready position glove down in baseball/softball, no splits in basketball, form and technique in track & field, leverage and footwork in football, high hands on your follow through in golf.

If you focus on the process of doing those things consistently and well, the positive outcomes will soon follow. But you have to be committed to it. It then becomes not what you do, but how well you do it. If you can’t or won’t do the little things, then you won’t be able to accomplish the big things. Start by making your bed.

Be the Change.

It is always interesting to me that when talking to student-athletes, they always see the need to improve our culture. Be nicer to underclassmen, treat opponents and officials with respect, speak to their parents about refraining from officiating their games and just supporting the team, taking better care of our facilities, or turn a losing program around to be more successful. But very few have the courage to lead the movement. Whether it’s the fear of failure, peer pressure, scared of isolation, or simply not sure how to go about it. Often times the very change we want to make, passes us by.

So, I encourage you, as you embark on another chapter in your life, have the courage to be the change. Ask questions and never be afraid to stand up for you what are passionate about.

Attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

Attitude. It’s a little thing that makes a big difference.

No matter what life has to throw at you, the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys that will for surely come your way, it’s not what you do that will determine whether you are successful or not, rather your attitude at which you approach each and every circumstance that will ultimately prevail. Your attitude will determine your altitude.

I love the story about the two children that woke up Christmas morning and ran down stairs to see what Santa had left. The first child opened a pile of presents and when finished moped over to the couch, sat down and said, “Is that it?”

The second child saw a pile of manure in the corner of the room and was beaming with joy. When his mother asked him why he was so happy, the child exclaimed, “There must be a new horse in the house somewhere!”

It’s all about your attitude!

Never take anything for granted.

Now please listen carefully to me. If you take nothing else from my words today, I hope you remember this. Do not let opportunities pass you by without telling family, friends, teachers, coaches, respected ones how much they have meant to you. And when you understand the uncertainty for tomorrow, you will cherish today. Tomorrow is not promised to us.

My eyes were first opened wide to this fact when I almost lost my Dad at an early age to a bleeding ulcer. I remember lying in bed and wondering if my Dad really knew that he was my hero and inspiration. Thankfully, he pulled through and for the next 20 years, several of which we coached together, we never parted ways without telling each other, “I love you.” It’s okay to let those around you know how much you care. So, don’t take loved ones for granted and do your absolute best not to let them down.

Fail Forward.

Many of life’s most valued rewards have come from failures. Failure is a part of almost everyone’s journey. Founders, inventors, great athletes, it doesn’t matter — everyone’s success is built on a previous failure. I found a couple of examples of failures turned to successes in Forbes magazine!

WD-40: Have you ever wondered where this useful lubricant got its name? The name comes from the fact that the formula represents the 40th attempt to create a degreaser and rust protection solvent. Although it was originally used in the aerospace industry, it became so popular among employees that it was packaged into aerosol cans and introduced to retail in 1958. Can you imagine if the lab had given up after 39 tries?

Nintendo: Today, Nintendo is known as the gaming company that launched an era, but it certainly didn’t start out as a success. Nintendo’s first offering, the Famicom console, had to be recalled after only a few months. Atari’s failure in the mid-1980s left the American video game market a mess, and the Nintendo NES barely sold when it was introduced in 1985. By the end of 1986, however, two little characters named Mario and Luigi had changed the history of American gaming forever.

Wheaties, came to be after 34 tries. Michael Jordan being cut from his ninth-grade basketball team. The list goes on.

Failure is going to happen and again it is how you view failure that will make the difference. So, when faced with failure, take the opportunity to learn from it. Don’t waste time sulking and blaming. Don’t be afraid to fail forward!

I have had major anxiety about the following lyrics that I want to attempt to deliver to you, but thankfully I attended your Senior Banquet at Camp Takajo this past Monday and heard a lot of you sing karaoke. So, if Ben, Zac, Nick can sing a tune and Kelsey can jump on her knees to play the guitar. Then, I can give it my best shot.

I’m not afraid

To take a stand


Come take my hand

We’ll walk this World together through the storm

Whatever weather, cold or warm

Just letting you know that, you’re not alone

Holla if you feel like you’ve been down the same road

Here is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. Anything is possible if you are willing to work together. Look past those little idiosyncrasies that drive us nuts about others and instead look at the good in people. Look people in the eye and shake a hand or flash a smile at a stranger to say hello. Stop and help those in need. Don’t be afraid to be the first to extend a hand. No matter what path you leave on from Lake Region High School, you are all capable of making a difference. Don’t be afraid.

So, in summation, Lakers, Class of 2018:

Make your bed.

Be the change.

Attitude, not Aptitude will determine your Altitude.

Never take anything for granted.

And fail forward.

To quote legendary North Carolina State men’s college basketball Coach Jim Valvano, who lost his battle with cancer, “If every day, we laugh a little, learn a little, and cry a little. We’ve had a heck of a day.”

I am guessing all of us might experience these emotions today — if you haven’t already.

Thank you! Best of luck! And go Lakers!

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