Laurie LaChance '83, Maine State Economist
For the State
State Greeting by Laurie G. Lachance, '83 Maine State Economist
Story posted May 27, 2000
Graduates, Families, Friends and Faculty, I bring you warm greetings and sincere congratulations from the Great State of Maine. It's been 17 years since I crossed this stage, and I am deeply honored and humbled to come before you today. As I look back at my own graduation, I realize that it was far less an ending, far more a beginning. You stand here today at the threshold, and you hold in your hands, your head, and your hearts tremendous potential and opportunity. My prayer for you is that you'll use this great gift you've been given, a Bowdoin education, you will take this and go forth like generations of Bowdoin graduates before you and truly make a difference in this world.
As you examine the rich history of Maine and of Bowdoin College you quickly discover that the two entities are inextricably linked. The roots of Bowdoin are deeply planted in the soils of Maine and what has taken root, grow and blossomed in this very place is tremendous leadership capacity for Maine and for our nation. 1 President, 1 Chief Justice, 3 US Ambassadors, 43 Congressmen, 16 Senators, 11 Governors, 22 Maine House Speakers, and several Senate Presidents in Maine. And this doesn't begin to touch on the contribution of hundreds of business and academic leaders who have graduated from this fine institution. Together, their bold and visionary leadership has shaped the unique character and heritage of Maine for tow centuries, and has played a hand in shaping our nation as well. What an awesome though - and what fun to look across these 412 faces and wonder who will rise to fill these shoes going forward.
You see - you have now completed Phase I of your leadership training - acquiring a solid education. You've been challenged in the ways of the mind - learning to think, how to analyze, how to approach and solve problems, gaining expertise in your field of study. Skills that will serve you well no matter where you go from here. Now you're ready for Phase II; your real life, known to some as trial by fire.
It's taken me 17 years, and now, at the ripe old age of 38, I feel like I finally am starting to "get it." But I want to share with you some crib notes that may boost you along the learning curve of Phase II.
Here is some of what I've learned:
1. I've learned that you should always take your job seriously but don't take yourself too seriously. When you accept a job, it is a contract of sorts in which you promise to do your best. You owe them that. But don't take yourself too seriously - I say this for 2 reasons. First off, don't beat yourself up too badly when you make a mistake - we all make them. Learn from it and move on. Secondly, beware of self-importance. You'll learn that every single person in an organization, regardless of title, has something to contribute- if given a chance.
2. One lesson I learned from our beloved Governor, "never make your opponents your enemies". Our ability to openly disagree, discuss, argue is what makes this nation great, it's what makes educational institutions exciting, and its what makes businesses flourish. Your opponent in one situation or on one issue may become your best ally on the next. You may not believe this, bur over the years, I've met and worked with some Bates and Colby Graduates and they are, in fact, decent people.
3. You can only sell your integrity once. I suggest that you put out a large "Not for Sale" sign and keep it posted. Self respect is invaluable and keeping your integrity intact is a prize to be sought and cherished. The temptation to tell your boss, your constituents, your mate or even your parents what they want to hear will be great. Resist that temptation, as it's a very slippery slope indeed.
4. Seek and reward balance - not workaholism. I'm not saying - go forth and be lazy, I'm just saying - keep some perspective in life. Workaholism is every bit as addictive and damaging as alcoholism and drug abuse. I should know, I'm a reformed workaholic - and I admit to falling off the wagon occasionally. It's OK to throw yourself into your career when you're young, but once you've got a spouse, partner, or most importantly, children, they desperately need you and they need you before you've been thoroughly fried crispy!
5. Finally, find something to be grateful for in every day, every experience, every person you encounter. A few years ago, I received the book "Simple Abundance", and it absolutely transformed my life. You see, one step towards being happy, truly happy, in life, no matter what your circumstance, is to cultivate a grateful heart. It may sound corny - but I guarantee if at the end of each day, you take a few moments to write down 5 things that you are thankful for, you will start to look at the world in terms of all that you do have, not all that you don't. The glass become half full, at a minimum, and you realize that the daily ups and downs needn't control your emotions or your self-worth.
And now my friends, I'll end with this thought. You are now part of a mighty tradition. Your Bowdoin education will open doors for you and it will take you places you may never have dreamed possible. Live fully and give fully. For those of you staying in Maine, welcome. You will, undoubtedly, make your mark on this great state. For those who will leave our fine state to explore opportunities elsewhere, remember this: you are now a part of Maine history, and wherever life leads you, please know you can always come home to Maine. Congratulations one and all.
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