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John Baldoni

John Baldoni is a leadership consultant, coach and regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review online. His most recent book is Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up.
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Believe in what you have yet to achieve

Question: You’ve been asked to give a commencement speech to this year's college graduates about their role as future leaders. Give us the two or three key paragraphs from your address.

Welcome to the advice-giving season. We all think we have something wise to pass along to recent graduates. I am no different.

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” That is a lesson that John Wooden passed along to the young men who played basketball for him. It worked. The last 12 years he coached, his teams won 10 NCAA titles. But for decades prior to that championship run, Wooden’s teams never won anything. Yet during those lean years Wooden did not stop believing in his ability to coach.

Obstacles will always come your way. The challenge is what you do about them. Those who achieve their dreams find ways through, over or around those obstacles. So too can you, if you are willing to consider what you can achieve by applying your abilities to fulfill your dreams.

There will always be those who will want to say no to your dreams. Only you can decide if that no is final, or the just beginning of your journey to fulfillment.

[Dedicated to Paul who just received his MBA and Ann who will earn her BA next month.]

View all panel responses to our discussion about the best words of wisdom to give this year’s graduates. Here are some of them:

Alan Webber: Do everything on purpose

Marie Wilson: Help a country hungry for its heart

Angel Cabrera: Do good!

Juana Bordas: Transform your community

John Baldoni: Believe in what you can achieve

George Reed: Care enough to lead

Amy Fraher: Commit to ethical thinking

Carol Goman: Rewire your brain

John Baldoni  | May 2, 2011 6:15 PM

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