Thursday, May 20, 2004

Wisdom for Graduates

Gary @ The Mises Blog has a great post on imparting wisdom to young minds.

Graduation season is in full swing. The famous and generous are giving graduates words of wisdom about what they now face in the "real world." The best provide real insight, but many fail to go beyond platitudes. And having attended many graduations, I have a guess as to why.

It is very difficult to impart universal insights from humanity's accumulated wisdom in a graduation speech because every proverb, aphorism or saying is contradicted by a different one, as if every proverb has an equal and opposite proverb. So what can be expressed by simple rules will often be wrong and therefore must be qualified in many ways to be useful.



  • All things come to him who waits and look before you leap; but he who hesitates is lost.
  • Haste makes waste and fools rush in where angels fear to tread; but time waits for no man, seize the day, and strike while the iron is hot.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained; but its better to be safe than sorry and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and where there's a will, there's a way; but don't keep beating your head against a wall and where there's a will there's a won't.
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; but don't look a gift horse in the mouth.


  • [There are a lot more on the post]

    He is right. Wisdom cannot be provided in a speech and experience is the best way to learn. That does not take away from the fact that there are some guidelines can be provided. He concludes :

    The world graduates are entering is one of clarity and confusion, certainty and contradictions, cooperation and competition, etc. But what each does have is the ability to choose. So the best advice may be to follow that famous instruction to Indiana Jones: "Choose wisely." After all, despite the fact that whatever will be will be, life is what we make it.

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