What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

posted June 21st, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

This question came from the commencement address given by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook to the 2011 Barnard graduating class.  I think it’s a great question!! It is one you can ask yourself the next time you find yourself stepping back from a project, idea, concept, person, promotion, opportunity etc which you know in your heart you care deeply about.  You can find her entire address at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdvXCKFNqTY


I have listened to a number of commencement addresses this year for the first time. Michelle Savoy, one of the Babes who responds to your questions periodically via the  “ask a babe” feature encouraged me to listen to them. She tells me she does it every year and finds great inspiration in doing so. I am grateful to her for pushing me to take the time to hear what these wise women had to say!! (And I am grateful to the others who sent me particular suggestions!!)


At Michelle’s urging, I listened to the commencement address given by Ellen Johnson Sirlief, the President of the Repbulic of Liberia (and a Harvard graduate) to the 2011 Harvard graduating class.  Her address is quite inspiring! I loved these words in particular: “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”  You can find her address at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJepHrrdX6M


For levity,  I listened to the commencement address given by Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live fame to the same class of Harvard students.  Many of her remarks were intended to add some levity to the proceedings, however, some of them were quite serious. The latter included the following advice: “Take your risks now as you grow older you become more fearful and less flexible.” You can find her address at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7N_L_pu74k


I believe each of these addresses are well worth the time it takes to listen to them in their entirety. And I am certain there are others worth listening to which I have not discovered yet.


I would welcome your comments on these and other commencement addresses or in general.


I will end with a toast to the graduating classes of 2011 everywhere in the world and a toast to inspiration and to wisdom, strength and courage!!


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