The Season of Graduations

I love this time of year both for its’ weather and for the graduation events that are occurring around us. Graduations are a time of reflection, celebration and anticipation. For many it’s also a time of angst. What next? What is to become of me? What do I tell Aunt Agnes when she asks what I’ll be doing next month, next year and in the future?

These anticipated questions make me wonder why we are a population that has such a hard time pausing and enjoying the glory of the moment and celebrating all we have accomplished. We ask these “what next” questions of our graduates, our employees, our peers and ourselves. As soon as we complete a project or rolled out a new program at work we are checking our calendars and embarking on the next challenge. How might things be different if we took the time to reflect on the task we just completed?

I imagine that we might actually discover that we learned some things, established some new relationships, made some mistakes, and moved through some tough spots that we didn’t believe we had the capacity to tackle. The value of this reflection might be felt in the next project when we avoid the previous mistakes, successfully partner with new colleagues to get a job done, help others who may not have yet learned what we have learned and built self confidence because of the hurdles we have overcome in the past. By taking this moment to reflect we might even remember to thank those who contributed to our success or to the project's success.

So here is a thought for when you encounter those new graduates this spring and your employees and colleagues at the end of a major effort. Ask different questions. Ask questions that will have them turn inside and get the most from the experience they are leaving behind. “What do you value most from the last four years?” “What are you not sorry to leave behind?” What made you successful in this past project/program?” and “What did you learn about yourself in your interactions with others?”

I’m going to try to remember these questions as I head off to the University of Kansas for my son’s graduation.

 

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