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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Next Step

May 22, 2017

It’s graduation season.

I didn’t speak at a high school commencement ceremony this graduation season, but had I stepped up to the podium this year I would have told the graduates what I have told graduates before. I written about it before. It’s what I wish I would have heard at my commencement.

Students, you are a few years away from beginning your professional life, but you are only weeks away from planning for it. The decision you make about your professional life should be the easiest decision you ever make—your career should be about one thing: Passion.

It’s not about money, or prestige, or power, or fame. It’s about passion. Once you find your passion everything will come together. Someone once said, “Do what you love to do for a career and you’ll never work a day in your life,” that’s passion. Find your hobby and see if you can get paid for it. To be successful in your professional life find your passion, because success always follows passion.

When it comes to your personal life, it’s all about priorities. It’s not just about fun. It’s as simple as that. Arrange your priorities in the correct manner and fun will present itself with little, or no, effort. But it’s got to be the right kind of fun, and it’s got to come in the right places.

That’s where it gets tricky. It’s probably going to take you a long time to figure out how to be a success in your personal life and how to find the true source of fun—it’s not at a frat party or at someone’s apartment at three in the morning. Those fleeting moments may be temporarily enjoyable, but you’re never going to achieve a fuller life at a frat party.

Don’t spend your life focusing on “pleasure” in its many forms. Pleasure is fleeting. Pursue happiness, that is where hope lives. Once you find happiness, search for joy. Joy is happiness with peace and serenity thrown in. It’s a great place to be, and has nothing to do with money or notoriety.

The things that truly matter are: Faith, family, friends, food and fun. Once you’ve mastered the first four— in order— the fun has already happened. You don’t have to go looking for it.

Go out and make a difference. Befriend the underdog. Laugh a lot. Make others laugh a lot. Visit a nursing home. Make them laugh a lot. Hug your parents long and hard. Hug them so long that they’re the ones who let go first. Hug your favorite teacher. Thank him or her. If you don’t appreciate them today I promise you that you will, soon. Hug the teacher you liked least, too. They probably worked just as hard; you just don’t appreciate that yet.

Take care of your teeth. Walk a lot. Drink milk. Don’t hate. Stay in touch with your friends. Make new friends. Share a meal with your friends. Travel. Eat French fries. Be nice. Be bold. Behave. Spend time with your grandparents. Love your neighbor. Love your neighbor’s neighbor. Love your neighbor’s grandparents.

Make mistakes. Then don’t sweat the mistakes you’ve made. Learn from your mistakes. Go out and make more mistakes, you’ll get it right eventually. Forgive others for their mistakes. That whole “do unto others” thing is great advice. Floss every day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t be so hard on others. Just make it a general rule not to be hard.

Volunteer where you feel led. Don’t just “give back.” To give back you must have received something first. Just give, and then give some more. Give of your time, give of your resources and give your love. When you think you’ve given enough then give some more.

Don’t forget the laughing thing. Don’t forget the hugging thing either. Don’t forget any of it. Focus on faith, family, friends, food, and fun. Find your passion. Make that your career. Then go be passionate and have fun.

Congratulations and good luck.

View today’s recipe: Caprese Crostini


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