Sawatzke: Graduates, continue to take pride in yourself and in those around you

Dear graduates,

From the time fall sports kicked off the 2012-13 school year all the way through my sit-down with the seven class speakers last week, one trait has emerged as a defining factor of your class.
Monti pride, Magic pride, or however you want to hashtag it on Twitter. That pride has come to define a class that has revived athletic programs, won state championships, put on a great talent show and had seven kids earn the honor of being a class speaker.
Certainly, there is much to be proud of. But this note isn’t written to remind you of what you’ve already accomplished. That does deserve celebrating. But as much as graduation is a celebration, it’s also an invitation. It’s an invitation to your future. It’s an invitation to chase your dreams. And it’s an invitation to create so much more to be proud of.
What I’d like to do today is to encourage you to maintain that pride in yourself, in those around you and in everything you do.
First, a disclaimer.
Pride can be dangerous. Too much of it will cause a foolish arrogance. Pride, like almost everything, is best in the right dose.
In that right dose, it’s a powerful tool.
The most important point of pride in your life should be in yourself, and all that you do. No matter where life takes you, whether you become a teacher, an artist, a car salesman, a CEO or a plumber, you must take pride in what you do.
Pride motivates us. If we don’t carry ourselves with a sense of pride, we allow ourselves to chase less than the best, to perform at standards below our capabilities, and to settle.
When you have pride, it manifests itself in all that you do. You refuse to turn in work that you can’t be proud of. If you take pride in yourself and all that you do, you’ll become your toughest boss, but also your biggest adversary. Having pride requires more work; it begs more of a challenge. But it brings such a larger reward.
I try to take pride in everything I write. As with every job and every walk of life, there are some days where it’s tougher to care. I limit those days as much as possible. And when I’m removed from those days, I can always tell the difference in my work. The articles I’m invested in, the ones that I take the most pride in, always hold up the best over time.
But your work (and before that, your school work) isn’t the only place where you should take pride.
You should also be able to find pride in how you carry yourselves, and the way you treat others. Enter every interaction with the idea that you want to leave it feeling good about how you carried yourself. It will increase your confidence and your kindness. It will increase your happiness, and it will increase your success.
Take pride in how others view you. Be a sharp dressed man or a well-dressed lady. Be polite, smile often. Be the person that other people look at and say,“wow, I wish that was me.”
Just as importantly as taking pride in yourself, is taking pride in those around you. Whether you’re going to school, the workforce or the military, surround yourself with people you can be proud of.
Now is your chance to choose the people that you’re going to have around for the rest of your life. Make wise choices. Choose people you’d be proud to introduce to your friends back home, or to your family at a big get-together. Choose people you’d let your sibling date. Choose people who will drive you to be a better person.
I’ve always been a firm believer that a huge amount of happiness is derived from those that we spend the most time with. You are in control of that happiness now. Choose people that will make you happy and choose people that will help make you successful. Again, choose people you can be proud of.
See, pride isn’t just something you take in your hometown. It’s not something you leave behind when you walk across that stage on Friday night. Pride is something you should carry forever, and it’s something you should constantly be looking to reestablish.
Class of 2013, you’ve done well thus far, but you’ve got so much still in front of you. Go forth, make us all proud.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]