On My Soapbox

"Don't look down. It's an impossible view. Fly like an eagle in whatever you do."

Please make sure you pass this on to any graduates you know. It doesn’t matter what grade level – kindergarten, high school or college – this column is for them.

It’s graduation season and students are preparing for the next stage of their life journey. Along the way they will hear things like, “don’t give up,” or “It only gets harder, but you can do it.”

I’m going to take a different approach – don’t look down.

Consider your life a ladder and you just cleared another rung. In order to keep climbing, the best advice I can give you is don’t look down.

In other words, you have made it this far, don’t look back and expect to keep moving forward. I’m not saying forget where you came from or the people who helped you, but if you continue to look for answers in your past, then you will slow down your forward progress.

The people who have helped you along the way are still behind you and there to catch you if you do fall. Eventually you get to a position that you can keep looking up and extend your hand back to help them climb up.

If you have ever climbed a ladder – or a mountain or anything that is high – people always say, “don’t look down.” Not only because you move slower but what you see could scare you enough to make you fall.

Most people know being scared of falling while climbing a ladder increases your chances of falling off of the ladder.

So, as you continue to climb in life, don’t be afraid of what comes next. You never know what your future holds, but if you live in fear of failure, then you will never succeed.

Remember to never look down while climbing, always look up.

I grew up in the church, so I was always taught to look up to God for help, no matter the situation. When I die I hope that I am going to Heaven but looking down is the wrong direction to get there.

I know all of this sounds cliché, but it’s all true.

Go home tonight and SAFELY climb a ladder to the roof of your home and consider everything I just said. It may sound silly, but once you put it into perspective, you will have a better understanding.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but before I do I want to tell all the graduates congratulations. Whether you are headed to first grade, middle school, high school, college or “real life,” you have taken an important step in your future. Graduation doesn’t mean stop working hard, it means bigger and better goals are ahead of you. Keep working hard to achieve them. You – and everyone who has supported you – knows that you are capable of success.

“Don’t look down. It’s an impossible view. Fly like an eagle in whatever you do.”

- Mos Def, from the song “Don’t Look Down”

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