Inspiring commencement speeches

Like what J.K Rowling said about herself, I too can't remember a single word from the speaker at my graduation ceremony more than a decade ago. High chance that I might have fallen asleep as what I always did during lectures. I figured that the speaker at my commencement must not have been half as entertaining as Oprah and Rowling. 

The commencement speeches below are true gems. Although it's well past the time that I should be listening to them, I still find them inspiring, timeless. 



Oprah Winfrey's commencement speech

JK Rowling's commencement speech


Common points that I have distilled from their seemingly different messages are:
  • We need to have a vision for ourselves - with that only can we pave our own path in life to success. (I like Oprah's case of her boyfriend asking her to go for a ride and she would ask 'to where?'.)
  • We need to know what we are capable of and learn to make good impacts to the world with this talent/ service of ours (know we can touch other people's lives).
  • Surround yourself with good people. People who are worthwhile to be with, who want the best for you and make you a better person.

The 2 lady speakers are outstanding in their own ways of delivering the intended messages, like the way they draw references and experiences to themselves. I guess owing in part to the extraordinary and undulant life stories that they had behind the glamour of success.


Indeed, if life is all calm, peaceful and rosy, what's there to strive for? 
"You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default." - J.K Rowling




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