I have somewhat of a fetish for commencement speeches.
I have listened to David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College probably 35 times. His speech is the closest thing to what I would identify as my guiding life philosophy. In fact, his speech inspired the creation of Little Awesome Things.
One of my other favorite speeches is Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement speech at Stanford.
While Steve speaks of many flavors of motivation, one particular part of the speech has always stuck with me:
I took this quote as a literal challenge in my own life about 5 months ago. I wrote three post-its and stuck them to my apartment door. One post-it said " If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm going to do today?" and the other two simply had the words "Yes" and "No" on them. My intention was to put tallies each day as I left my apartment on either "Yes" or "No".
But then, the post-it for "No" wouldn't stick anymore. It literally fell of the door, and wouldn't stick anymore. I shit you not. There are a lot of ways to interpret this – spanning from "the post-it company should probably engineer better adhesive" to "the universe is telling you something!!".
Across that span, I chose to view it as a metaphor: the answer has to be yes.
I know I will not be elated every single day to be doing what I will be doing, but the shear fact that I have the opportunity and freedom to choose what it is that I am doing is reason enough to say "yes" to this question every day.
Choosing "yes" is the recognition of the opportunity and power we possess to define our own paths. It doesn't mean you're there yet, but it means you recognize the journey and you're grateful to be on it.
I haven't put the "no" post-it back on the door.