Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey gave the commencement address at Stanford University on June 17, 2012. My good friend Peggy's daughter graduated that day and she encouraged me to listen to Booker's passionate, funny and inspiring speech. I'm so glad I did and I encourage you to listen also.
In fact, his speech seems as appropriate for Independence Day as it did for new graduates and their families. Below are excerpts and a few of my reflections on it.
Booker tells us that we are here because of the people who came before us - those who worked, volunteered, protested and challenged the status quo as well as those who physically and emotionally cared for and nurtured us. These are the "conspirators of love."
He speaks of his father who reminded him often that, "You drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty and opportunity that you did not dig. You eat lavishly from banquet tables prepared for you by your ancestors. You sit under the shade of trees that you did not plant or cultivate or care for. You have a choice in life. You can just sit back getting fat, dumb and happy consuming all the blessings put before you or it can metabolize inside of you, become fuel to get you into the fight to make this democracy real, to make it true to its words that we can be a nation of liberty and justice for all."
I want to use the fuel and contribute to liberty and justice for all. I know that I can do more. It is so easy for me to become complacent. To help me stand up and do something, Booker describes the three things that all "conspirators" have in common.
Embrace discomfort - Don't accept what is. Get outside of your comfort zone. "Democracy is not a spectator sport. Embracing discomfort is a precondition to service. Embracing fear is a precondition to discovery. Embracing frustration is a precondition to break through."
Stay faithful - "Courage does not always roar." Courage is when life has beaten us down and that small voice inside tells us to get out of bed, brush our teeth, open the door, and take a small step to be faithful to our truths and our work.
Show up - "Everyone is born an original, but sadly many die as copies because they don't show up to their authenticity." Accept conditions as they are and then take responsibility for changing them. (Some time back I wrote an article on the topic, How Do I Show Up?)
Booker encourages us to "stand up and be lovers of life." He asks us to join together to reject cynicism, to help our communities, and to join the conspiracy of love.
I'm in. Are you?
Please share your reflections with me personally or on the Oak Communications Coaching and Consulting Facebook page.