9 Lessons Anyone Can Learn From 2016’s Commencement Speeches

Sponsored by Sherwin-WilliamsFrom Sheryl Sandberg to Lin-Manuel Miranda


Your strength comes through when you are challenged

Photo by Jennifer Leahy for Facebook

“When the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, UC Berkeley


Balance is key to success

Care is as important as career, heart is as important as head, and family is as important as fame. —New America president and CEO Anne Marie Slaughter, University of Utah


Plans are as important as passion

“You have to go through life with more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. I'll repeat that. I want you to have passion, but you have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes.” —President Barack Obama, Howard University


Don't be afraid of hardship

“If you survive anything in your life—who cares what it is—illness, a loss, your parents split up, it doesn’t matter. Whatever your cross to bear is, if you are still standing, even if you’re teetering, you get four words. You get: You can’t scare me. Those four words are so powerful.” —TODAY anchor Hoda Kotb, Tulane University


The way you represent your life matters

“This act of choosing—the stories we tell versus the stories we leave out—will reverberate through the rest of your life.” —Hamilton writer, composer, and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, University of Pennsylvania


Trust your gut

"And I want to be clear that your intuition is different from your conscience. They work in tandem, but here’s the distinction: Your conscience shouts, ‘here’s what you should do,’ while your intuition whispers, ‘here’s what you could do.’ Listen to that voice that tells you what you could do. Nothing will define your character more than that." —Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Harvard University


Engage with the world around you

"The point is to try to eliminate your blind spots—the things that keep us from grasping the bigger picture. And look, even though I grew up in this neighborhood—in this incredible, multicultural neighborhood that was a little rough at that time—I find myself here before you as an American, white, male movie star. I don’t have a clue where my blind spots begin and end. But looking at the world as it is, and engaging with it, is the first step toward finding our blind spots. And that’s when we can really start to understand ourselves better, and begin to solve some problems." —Actor Matt Damon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Don't run from your mistakes

“The ‘uh-oh’ moments are worth cherishing just as much as ‘ah-ha’ moments: Mistakes, failures, embarrassments and disappointments are a necessary component of growing wise. We can learn more from our not-so-good experiences than we can learn from our good ones.” —Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, University of Rhode Island


The word "no" does not mean it's over

"When someone tells you no, you have two choices. You can stop in your tracks. Or you can push forward by raising questions most people would rather not hear, much less discuss." —Author Jodi Picoult, Princeton University