Don’t Forget the little people

To the graduating class of 2019

Don’t Forget the little people

When I lived in Northern California, I got around town by riding the city bus system where I made friends with many of the bus drivers who I saw on a regular basis.  One driver, who I called Bus Driver Ted, believed I would be successful despite my disabilities.  Whenever I saw him on the bus, he always reminded me “when you start to make the big bucks, don’t forget the little people.”

As you prepare to walk across your high schools’ stage, shake the hand of an administrator after receiving your diploma acknowledging your 12 plus years of education you endured.  You will walk off that stage and beginning your journey to becoming successful and making the big bucks.

Five years from now, maybe ten, maybe even twenty or even longer, you may be standing in front of a audience about the size of your graduating class, or even larger, receiving an award for a personal or professional achievement you have earned.  You walk up to the microphone and begin to speak.

Maybe the scenario for you is not so huge.  Maybe you are among your work colleagues where you are being recognized for your achievements.  What are you going to say?

You may want to thank your boss or the head of a committee who nominated you.  You will probably want to thank the person who presents you with the award.   Of course, you should thank these people, noting to be mindful not to come across as kissing up while you show your appreciation for their part in your award.

You may want to thank your spouse and children for standing behind you during the difficult times you went through to earn the award you are receiving.  In fact, I strongly recommend thanking your spouse if you want to continue to have a happy home life.

While you are standing there trying to be appreciative of the award, don’t forget the little people who had small roles in your success.

Who are these little people I am talking about?

  • Your pre-school teacher who taught you your letters and numbers
  • Every bus driver who drove you to and from school in all kinds of weather.
  • Your kindergarten teacher who got your hooked-on reading
  • The music teacher who nurtured your love of music
  • The art teacher who saw talent in you when no one else did.
  • The English instructor who gave you the love of poetry.
  • The coach who taught you the value and importance of being a team player
  • The school principals who disciplined you when you needed it.
  • The school nurse who made you feel better when you were feeling sick or hurt at school
  • The guidance counselor who helped you find career path that best suited your talents and personality.
  • Your mentors who guided, inspired and motivated you during your life when you felt like giving up
  • Your friends who were always there for you.
  • Your enemies and former friends, who’s hurtful words or actions made you a stronger person.

Each of the people I have listed may have played a very small part in your life during your academic career, but never forgot what they did helped make you the success you are today and that you will be for the rest of your life.

These people are often the unsung heroes, always forgotten when someone achieves greatness, success and making the big bucks in life.

Many of these people are here today in person, or at least in spirit, beaming with pride as you receive your diploma.  They all know that you are about to start a wonderful journey.  They all believe that you will find success in life – even if you do not believe it in yourself today.

They are not asking you to mention each and every one of them by name when you do receive that advancement in your career or that award for your achievements or contribution you have made to society.  They will be happy for you when you do succeed.  All they ask is that you never forget that no one is a success without a lot of little people doing what needed to be done at the right time in your life.

So when you do start to make the big bucks, follow bus driver Ted’s advice, don’t forget the little people.