An Inspirational Message on Recognition Day

We are now giving recognition to our students who have proven their best in the non-academic areas - specifically those who have excelled in athletics, in the literary- musical contests, in leadership, and other areas and have brought honor to the University. My role, according to the invitation is to give an inspirational talk and as I was trying to produce this speech I kept asking myself, "Who do I inspire?" I presumed there will be three groups of people in this hall - the best and the winners who are being recognized this afternoon, those who have tried and have lost, and those who haven't tried at all. I have decided that it will be best for all of us here to inspire each other, to learn lessons from each other, to share successes and failures and the lessons that we can derive from them.

Let us first consider the winners and the best in this group because this afternoon's event is in their honor. This time you inspire the likes of us who were neither winners nor the best. All our lives we have always admired your kind, we have always aspired to be a little bit like you. I congratulate you for your achievement and for the honor that you have brought to the University. To you, I have this message - your talent, whatever it is, is a gift, a blessing - be grateful, give your wins a meaning by being magnanimous and by making people happy. Also, let your being winners teach you lessons that could pilot your lives. Remember too, that after climbing a great hill, there are many more hills to climb so expect for more and harder challenges. Your achievement has given you a good start and the best of preparations. We your teachers are hopeful that you will continue to bring honor to our dear (institution) even as you leave its portals. Congratulations again and more power. We will always be proud of you.

To those who have tried and have lost, do not despair. There is always a time for winning and a time for losing. There's always a reason the way things turn out to the way they are. Everyone wants to win but it is beyond our control - we can only try our best. I congratulate you for trying, never mind if you did not win what is important is you have tried your best. Let us learn not to measure ourselves against the Olympics; doing so would make us lead very unhappy lives. Let us just find joy in doing our best - not measured by someone else but measured by us. For those who have never tried to compete because they believe they have no talent, that is not so - you'll never know what you've got until you try. No matter how simple we are, we are still creations of God, we are here for a very significant role; you may not be the best singer, but you can be the singer's best friend. I would like to share a part of Douglas Malloch's poem which runs this way…

We can't all be captains; we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or fail - Be the best of whatever you are.

I'd like to close with this message: Life can never be all wins. “Sooner or later, everyone will fall short at something important to them - whether it be a job, a dream, a relationship. Let failure in one endeavor make you better at another area. Let failure also teach us about the need to give people second chances and that life is a road with unpredictable twists and unexpected tomorrows. To take advantage of what life has to offer, don't let yourself be destroyed by a defeat, or let others set limits on your ability to achieve” (Finesilver, March 2001) … A good day everyone.