This week’s newsletter is one I run every year around this time.
It’s for students who are graduating (and for us adults who need a
about what really matters in life). I hope it inspires you to
stand tall, express your talents boldly, or to take a big risk. Here
are the seven lessons:

1. Spend more time on the who
rather than the what
. What you do will always be less important
than who you become. Knowledge is great but it will never take you as
far as your , your integrity, your reputation for someone who
keeps his or her word, or your commitment to be of service to others in
an important way. As you go through life, you will face challenges and
. When you do, get in the of asking yourself the
following three questions:

* How can I grow from this experience?

What qualities of character am I being called to develop?

* How
can I use this event to make me a better person?

2. Follow
your heart.
Pay far more attention to what you think than what
everyone else thinks. The most important relationship you’ll ever have
is with you. When I think about the regrets I’ve heard from adults over
the years, the biggest ones always have to do with listening to
everyone else but themselves. Start now. Make your own rules and follow
them. At the end of your life, the most important person you’ll have to
answer to is you.

3. Develop a strong “maverick muscle.”
Be willing to bend the rules, learn how to disappoint others
gracefully, get comfortable with people not liking you, and always
strive to be an original thinker. I have a little sign in my office that
says: “No Guts, No Glory” and I use it to remind me to go against the
grain whenever necessary. Allow yourself to be the unique spirit that
you were meant to be. Trust me. Your willingness to rock the boat will
set you apart from 95% of the people you meet throughout your life.

Build your courage muscles.
Starting tomorrow, practice doing
one small thing a day that frightens you. Learn to water ski, ask
someone out on a date, go for that promotion you keep dreaming about, or
learn to dance. Small acts of courage strengthen your ability to take
even bigger leaps later on like deciding to write your own book or run
for political office. If you really want to build your courage muscles,
take a public speaking course. Twenty years ago I allowed someone to
drag me to a Toastmaster’s Meeting – an international speech club – and
it changed the course of my life forever. Courage builds confidence and
confident people rarely settle for less.

5. Don’t go to
the hardware store for milk
. When you’re excited about doing
something new, make sure you turn to those people who will encourage you
to take a chance – the ones who believe in you rather than those who
tell you why an idea won’t work. Surround yourself with positive people –
the kind of people who challenge you to reach beyond your fear rather
than play it safe. There will always be people telling you why an idea
is risky, or why you can’t do something. That advice is usually based on
the mistakes they’ve made or the chances they didn’t take because they
were afraid. Always remember this: Someone’s past does not equal your
future. When faced with a naysayer, smile, say thank you, and turn
around. Stick with positive people who believe in you. Remember, if you
needed milk, you wouldn’t go to the hardware store.

(By the
way, you’re mom was right. You do become who you hang around with.
Choose your friends wisely.

6. Live
by this mantra: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Don’t give
up, especially when things get hard, and don’t ever let anyone or
anything put limits on you.

7. Stay connected.
Your use of technology – email or texting, for example – will never
replace the value of a live connection with someone. Every now and then
pick up the phone and call a friend or visit a loved one rather than
send an email or text message. Too often I’ve seen technology draw a
wedge between people. When we come to the end of our lives, it’s who we
loved and who loved us that matters most. Make “in-person” time a

Finally, at the time you were born you were given an
amazing gift – a gift that most of us forget about, as we grow older.
It’s the power to design your own unique life. You are an . The
canvas is your life. From this moment on, take ownership of this gift
and use it wisely. If you do, your life will become an extraordinary
work of art. Congratulations!

Take Action Challenge

share this week’s newsletter with a student in your life. It might
just save him or her some of the heartache and stress we’ve experienced 

week’s video was sent to me by my friend, Stacy, and it’s produced by a
woman who’s honoring a dear friend. Please be sure to read the info on
the website, too. You can find it
. Thanks, Stacy!