Tilted Windmills: Passion, success remain keys to life
by Mike McLellan
Jul 06, 2012 | 4749 views | 2 2 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I was unable to deliver the commencement address at Duke University in Durham, N.C., this past June.

Not to let my remarks go to waste merely due to the fact I was not invited to speak, I have reduced my thoughts for the space of this column.

Young people rarely ask me for advice, and this is why I have so much of it available. Here is what I would have said:

President (Richard) Broadhead, members of the faculty, esteemed guests and honored graduates — here are two suggestions for success following graduation.

First, learn the main secret to your occupation early on. For a surgeon, this is never saying “Oops” during an operation. For a judge, it is never saying “I think…”

“In my line of work, the secret was to tell a good story. So, here’s one.

In my youth — Thomas Edison was a boy then, too — there was a television show called “Mr. Wizard.” Don Herbert would show children the wonders of science.

One of his lessons was having a student put a hardboiled egg into a milk bottle. (Milk once came in bottles. These glass containers had openings slightly smaller than a hen’s egg.) The students, not knowing the trick, would push on the egg and make a huge mess. The harder they pushed, the more the egg crumbled.

Mr. Wizard finally showed the secret. You heat up the milk bottle and put the egg on the opening. As the bottle cools, it creates a vacuum and the egg is drawn into the bottle. It takes little work, and there is no mess.

My career, like many, was a series of crumbled eggs. It was working too hard at forcing issues and not stopping to look for the secret.

Some might suggest that eggs do not belong in milk bottles and therefore we should not try to put them there. While true, the world is full of challenges that we unnecessarily accept. It still is a good idea to learn the secret.

The second piece of advice is to go with your passion.

With two months to go to finish a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and business administration, I returned home and told my father that I did not want to take over my parents’ company. Instead, I wanted to go on to six more years of school and probably earn one-tenth as much money. My passion was calling me to become a theologian and renaissance man.

Remarkably, my father did not understand.

You see, I had found my passion. It was the discovery of why I was created and what I wanted to give to the world. You can, too.

One can image Pablo Picasso’s pop looking at his son’s paintings and wondering why he sent him to art school. Certainly, not everyone is vindicated like Picasso, but one never knows where passion might lead you.

There should be a third point. All commencement addresses have three points. Not this one.

We wish you well in the future. May you learn both the secret and passion of being who you were created to become.”

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 08, 2012
One simple principle that I follow is "do what you love and love what you do" one can still be successful doing something he or she is not passionate about yet feel empty inside, true success lies in the burning passion you and I have about something.
July 06, 2012
I agree 150%!! Without passion what is the purpose? If our children were allowed to learn what they love they would love what they learned instead of learning what we want them to love.

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