By Byron McNutt

DHI Media

As this year’s crop of young people graduate from high school and college we tell them to remember that they have so much going for them. They are not ordinary, absolutely not average and totally not typical. They are remarkable.

They’ve got mountains of strength, an ocean of potential and miles and miles of ability. That means they have got a world of possibilities just waiting to be exposed.

The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us, the people who sacrificed for us and gave us everything, is to be better than them.

Our parents, grandparents, ancestors sacrificed, not so that we can keep doing the same thing that they were doing but so that we can be better. To simply copy them would be almost an insult to their sacrifice.

About a year ago, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spoke at his son’s ninth grade commencement and had the following to share with the graduates.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.

“I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty.

“Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.

“I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.

“And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship.

“I hope you’ll be ignored so that you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

“Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”

This is a good time for all of us to reflect on some of the harsh realities that everyone will face in the course of a full life, Justice Roberts said. How we anticipate them and learn from them is up to us. These are hidden gifts. Gratitude is priceless.

Ronan Farrow, a Pulitzer Prize winner, once told graduates: “you will face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. Where it will be totally unclear to you what the right thing is for you, for your family or for your community.

“I hope in that moment, you’ll be generous to yourself, and trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own sense of principle...and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, and sensationalism, and celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Graduates at all levels will be told to resolve to have ambition, make success an obsession and outwork everybody else. They will also be told how they handle rejection will go a long way in determining their future.

Columnist Andy Kessler recently wrote: “As you enter the real world, or prepare to begin your college careers, you will have to learn to handle rejection ... everyone faces rejection from time to time.

“If you embrace rejection, you can turn it into a power boost. Own it. Then use it to make it your motivation to build on success in the future. Make a commitment to fear failure. Never give up without exhausting all alternatives.

“Rarely in life do you get something for nothing. Tell yourself you will do something above and beyond the ordinary. Use the gift of rejection to be extraordinary.”

Believe that nothing is impossible. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail in trying to get something to work. All you need is one success.

I am also reminded of a lesson high school economics teacher Tyler Bonin shared with his students recently.

He said, “When you’re looking to build a resume, when you commit to working for a new employer, there should be no task considered beneath you. Doing work that feels beneath you – like mopping the floors – almost always pays off in the end.”

Bonin learned that a sense of entitlement is a burden. People who believe themselves above something because of past achievements will find that new opportunities slip away.

“As competitive as the economy is today,” Bonin said, “opportunities to impress management must be taken. Never miss a chance to volunteer for a job that others may shy away from because it signals a valued work ethic and a dedication to the organization.

“There is a time to be bold, but there is also a time for humility. A task once considered beneath you could actually be the key to your future success.

“Do the jobs nobody else wants, because, believe it or not, somebody appreciates it. Provide value to difficult tasks without complaint. You will become a valued employee and every mentor is looking for people like you.”