St. Luke’s School’s class of 2019 received a timely and relevant graduation message from Wilton’s James Andersen. As chair of the private school’s Board of Trustees, Andersen joined Head of School Mark Davis in addressing 71 graduating seniors during the 90th Commencement Exercises on May 31.
Knowing that so many young people struggle with anxiety and self-doubt, Andersen, co-founder and managing partner of the private equity firm Clearview Capital, shared “four truths” that helped support and guide him in life.
Following are excerpts from his speech.
First truth: Life is not a straight line
Stocks don’t go straight up and neither do people. This seems obvious, but many people — especially young people — don’t seem to fully process this truth. Instead of seeing in failure the opportunity to learn, they feel the weight of not measuring up. There’s a saying that success is fleeting, but so too is failure, if you’re willing to believe in yourself.
Second truth: Don’t give up
After I graduated from college, I took an engineering job in Egypt to work in the oil fields. … The years I spent in Egypt were demanding. They forced me to grow and to cope with adversity, and they are still the most professionally fulfilling years I’ve ever had. You’ll have times of great adversity in life. Keep going. Don’t give up. The payoff will be worth it.
Third truth: Forgive yourself — but don’t do it again
People often forget how hard it is to be a kid. Even with wonderful families and strong mentors, figuring out life is difficult. It’s pretty likely that, like me, you will screw up sometimes. Forgive yourself. There is redemption in life. There really is, but here’s the key — don’t do it again. Whatever the mistake was, for goodness’ sake, don’t repeat it. When you mess up, own it, and learn from it. Get better and move on.
Fourth truth: You need bridges
A good bridge will lead you to fantastic new experiences, people and places — and then return you back home… As you prepare to leave St. Luke’s — remember that your most loyal fans are with you right now — your family, and your entire extended St. Luke’s family of teachers, coaches, and friends. Remember to thank them, to love them and, above all — stay closely connected to them. You have built a strong bridge here at St. Luke’s — a vital connection to this school and to each other. Make it last a lifetime.