5 Incredible and Inspiring Commencement Speeches

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5 Commencement speeches that will inspire you in minutes.

We could all use a little inspiration from time to time, and these 5 incredible and inspiring commencement speeches will motivate you to get out into the world, do the things you want to do, and be the person you want to be.

Here is a list of Bondi Beauty’s favourite graduation speeches (and quotes from the best bits) to give you a fresh hit of inspiration.

 AMY POEHLER, HARVARD, 2011

Actress Amy Poehler did an incredible speech for Harvard’s 2011 graduates, looking into the importance of saying “yes,” living in the moment, taking risks, and spending your time with the right people.

The best bits:

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you… Listen. Say “yes.” Live in the moment. Make sure you play with people who have your back.”

“Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces.”

“Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible… try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about.”

 J K ROWLING, HARVARD, 2008

J K Rowling’s Grad Speech at Harvard University in 2008 focuses on the benefits of failure, and the crucial importance of imagination.

The best bits:

“You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation … it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

 STEVE JOBS, STANFORD, 2005

This one brings tears to my eyes every time. Jobs tells his incredible story from dropping out of college and living in near-poverty, to launching Apple, being fired from Apple, creating Pixar, meeting the love of his life and his sudden cancer diagnosis which led him to understand the importance of remembering that we are all mortal and need to cherish every day.

The best bits:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

MICHELLE OBAMA, KENTUCKY, 2013

Michelle Obama’s advice comes in the form of three simple, but vital questions: Who are you going to be? How are you going to take your skills and experiences and use them to serve others? And lastly, who are you going to include in your life?

The best bits:

“I realized that what really mattered wasn’t how much money my parents made or what those people in my high school said about me.  What mattered was what was in my mind and what was in my heart.”

“You’ve got the freedom of an open mind, and thanks to today’s technology, you’re connected to each other and to the world like never before…You can either choose to use those opportunities to continue fighting the fights that we’ve been locked in for decades, or you can choose to reject those old divisions and embrace folks with a different point of view.”

 

HELEN MIRREN, TULANE, 2017

Mirren neatly and beautifully divides her life advice into her “Top 5 Rules for a Happy Life,” and here they are:

  1. “Don’t be in a rush to get married”
  2. “Treat people just like people, every single person, whether they have dominion over your life or not, deserves equal respect and generosity.”
  3. “Ignore anyone who judges the way you look, especially if it’s some anonymous creep lurking on the Internet. If youare that person lurking on the Internet, stop it.”
  4. “Don’t be afraid of fear – Look fear straight in its ugly face and barge forward. And when you get past it, turn around and give it a good, swift kick in the ass.”
  5. “Don’t over complicate things.”
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Sarah Carroll

CONTRIBUTOR

Sarah navigates health and fitness alongside a sinful sweet tooth and an unfortunate tendency to splash her savings online shopping, eating out or buying $10 cocktails at happy hour. With a love for yoga, animals, chocolate and musical theatre, Sarah is rarely found without a peppermint-green tea in hand, tearing up over animal videos on Instagram.

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