This evening I was invited to speak to the National Honor Society at Mountain View High School. What a great group of students who excel not only in academics, but in leadership and service!
Below are my notes.
National Honor Society Induction Ceremony
Mountain View High School
9 May 2019
Thank you for the invitation to join you this evening. It’s an honor to be in a group of outstanding students like you!
I’ve recently returned from living and working with about 450 young people who drank in advice as fast as my husband and I could share it.
This evening I’d like to share some of that advice and some ideas with you that have the potential to be life-changing.
You are an Amazing Group of students. You are the cream of the crop, the movers and shakers of the next generation. You will not only live to make yourselves happy, but much of the happiness and security of my generation rests in your hands.
Look around this room at your fellow students. Find someone who is Exactly like you–someone who has taken the same classes you’ve had, someone who has a family just like yours, someone who has the exact same dreams and goals you have.
Can you find that person? Not? Does that person exist? Probably not!
We each come to this earth with a very unique set of gifts, talents, strengths and experiences. The variety is really quite amazing.
Right now I want you to think of 5 things you are good at.
If that seems hard, think about what your best friend would say about you.
When you get home tonight, I’d like you to get out a piece of paper and make a big long list of all of all the things you are good at, the things you like to do–your strengths, your talents, and the gifts you’ve been given. It can be anything at all.
I’ll share with you a few things from my list:
I love to do Family History research and write about my ancestors
I can read old German documents
I make good soup
I give good hugs
I’m a grammar Nazi
I’m good at rationing things (like Easter candy)
I like to write and journal and blog
I’m good at photography
I like to read books
I’m really good at buying fabric. I make quilts and other things.
I do a lot of humanitarian work
I like to live in hard places
If you your list seems a little bit short, have your mom help you.
She knows you better than anyone else–I’m sure she can help you list lots more!
So–I believe there is a God who created us and gave these gifts to us.
He gave us each a magnificent and different list!
But what do we do with that list??
We usually focus on all the things we AREN’T good at, and worry and fret over those things. We compare ourselves to others who seem better at this or that. We talk ourselves out of doing things we’re good at because we think we might not get it right.
Elder Henry D. Moyle
“I have a conviction deep down in my heart that we are exactly what we should be, each one of us. . . . I have convinced myself that we all have those peculiar attributes, characteristics, and abilities which are essential for us to possess in order that we may fulfil the full purpose of our creation here upon the earth. . . .
” . . . that allotment which has come to us from God is a sacred allotment. It is something of which we should be proud, each one of us in our own right, and not wish that we had somebody else’s allotment. Our greatest success comes from being ourselves” (Improvement Era, December 1952, 934).
I know it’s hard to say out loud what we are good at, but it’s important that we think about our own specific gifts and talents so we can figure out how to use them.
If you want to have a happy life, learn to how to use your gifts and talents to help others!
If you want to be even happier, practice noticing gifts others have and compliment them, praise them, and help them use their talents and strengths. It’s amazing to see that helping and cheering on others lifts us all. That’s the best kind of networking!
There was once a wise old king who said we are in debt to God for all that we have and for all that we are. He also said we should help those who are in need of our help.
Think about what you HAVE. What have you been given?
Consider what you’ve learned this year in your favorite classes.
Consider the things that make your life happy.
Think about your friends, your home, your food and clothing.
What does it mean to be in debt to God for what we ARE?
I think that means that He put His list in us when he created us.
It’s a list that will help make this world a better place.
That’s who we ARE.
As you go forward in your life, pay close attention to your magnificent list and the things only you can do to help particular friends in very particular ways. Help those who stand in need of your succor, or your help.
Now is the best time to learn to work from your strengths.
Learn who you are and what you are good at.
Take classes in things you are good at or interested in.
Pursue schooling or jobs that use your strengths, and provide ways for you to serve and help others.
“Strange our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others. . . for countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.
“Many times a day, I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of other people, both living and dead and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.”
Einstein was Smart. He understood that we each have gifts and purpose and we are here for the sake of others. That’s a magical key to happiness.
Find your list. Work from your list.
Use the things on your list to bless others. That’s why you are here!
When Hope Bates invited me to come speak this evening, she asked me to share a few of my experiences. Did I tell you I love living in Africa?
It’s on my list.
When I was your age, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I went to BYU. I changed my major every semester. I couldn’t figure out my path.
Some of you will have a very specific path you will follow, and some of you, like me, will spend a lot of time wondering what you should be studying or doing with your life.
If you know exactly what you want to do, go do it!
If you wonder, then it’s important for you to be smart and learn how to learn and expose yourself to lots of different things. Be observant.
When there’s something important you need to do, you will recognize it.
My life unfolded in very unexpected ways.
I was a missionary in South Africa– one of the first American Sisters sent there.
Nothing I had ever studied prepared me for Africa.
I learned to love the people there.
I came home and graduated from BYU the next year.
I tried hard to find my next path. I prayed a lot. I listened a lot.
I watched what others were doing. Everyone had different ideas for me.
I was older and single and I had a feeling there was something I needed to be doing. I didn’t know what that something was.
When I look back now, I can see two things that were important in my life:
Being Willing to Help Others
At age 25 I was invited to move to Nigeria for 3 years to direct a child health program. I knew I had to go and I jumped at the chance!
In Nigeria, my team and I worked hard to teach and train village health workers in dozens of villages throughout the region. We taught principles of basic home health care, nutrition, sanitation, water purification, and self reliance.
We were young and had dreams of saving the world. Instead, we learned that our efforts were a drop in the bucket, at least that’s what it felt like then.
Now, 35 years later, I look back and I can see incredible things happened because of those small drops. I can also see how one experience opened the door to the next experience. There was a path for me to discover, but I could never have known that path when I was your age. I just had to start doing things.
I’ve been involved with work in Africa ever since. Now I work with a world-wide organization called Days for Girls that makes feminine hygiene kits for girls in Africa and all over the world. I’m doing things I love and I’m so very happy.
Make your list. Find your passions, or your likes.
Find ways to share what you like to do with others.
Give more than you take.
Leave places better than you found them.
Be prepared to get up and go if you are asked to.
Be aware of the needs of those around you.
You are Wonderful, Powerful, Smart Students who will be an influence for good in the world. Go forward with confidence! Go make a difference!
I will close with a statement I love by
George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 – 1950)
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love.
“I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Thank you for inviting me to share with you tonight.
Go home and make a list.
Then use that list to go change the world!
I wish you all well.