How inspiring was Robert De Niro’s graduating speech last week?
If you didn’t watch it, no worries, you can catch up on the link below, but basically he told the 2015 graduates of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts the hard truth – ‘you’re f**ked’.
One slight side comment before starting – He kicked off saying how art students were more screwed than other students that made ‘safer’ career choices, but I have to say, that’s not the reality in Europe. I can’t speak for America, but here there’s no ‘safe careers’; there’s ups and downs. Ok, maybe doctors, but I still wouldn’t be too sure, it really depends on your country’s demand for it.
In my view this speech can be as inspiring to other graduates . Graduates across different countries in Europe, facing economic, political and employment crisis, are basically f**ked as well. Congratulations.
Where’s the inspiration then? Getting there.
See the thing is it all comes down to your passion – is this what you want to do, what you want to pursue? Then go for it, no matter how rocky the path looks!
You’ll face many ‘NO’s’ in your life, but if you have that dream, that reassurance that this is what you want then don’t give up. But you’ll have to be the one lifting your self up after each rejection – it didn’t work out this time? Then as Robert De Niro puts it “NEXT. This one didn’t work out move on to what’s next.” You have to be ready to be your most positive self, no point in kicking yourself down, you just have to accept that sometimes no matter how good you are, people will go for someone else.
Something else he said stroke me even more: “You discovered a talent, developed an ambition, and recognized your passion, and when you feel that you can’t fight it, you just go with it.” He goes on to say “your path is clear”. Let me tell you, this doesn’t happen for a lot of people; most of us just follow the ‘set’ path instead of actually thinking ‘is this it?’. So if you do recognize your passion, no matter how hard things seem, just keep on going. And oh my, am I jealous of you if you have. In a good way not like voodoo jealous. It makes me so happy to hear stories of people that followed their dreams and that are still pursuing their passion.
Ok so maybe you won’t turn out to be the next De Niro or Zuckerberg. But you’ll be doing something you love. You’ll be a happier person in this world for it, and you’ll make it a better place as well. So hold on tight and enjoy that ride!
And if you have to put up with other jobs to get you to that place (most likely), then just do it. Nothing is a waste of time when it can get you to your dream. I remember reading recently a story about a man that went to a job interview because he needed money for the rent. It was a computer company and he knew nothing about computers, but the interviewer was an entrepreneur who fascinated him, and he ended up wanting the job so much that he said he would work for free. He got the job and went to find a restaurant to hire him as a waiter, because rent had to be paid. That man was Robert Herjavec.
If like me you’re just lost, no idea what you want to do, but at the same time struggling to fit in whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing, then stop and take some time to look – keep on pursuing. Robert De Niro told the grads something he tells his kids: “don’t be afraid to fail, take chances, keep an open mind, welcome new experiences and new ideas (…) if you don’t go, you’ll never know”. And that’s precisely what we have to do: take chances and keep an open mind. Don’t limit yourself to what you don’t believe in just because it’s the ‘normal thing to do’. We can make it. We just have to go, open the door to new ideas, start digging and once we find that passion, that dream, it’s all about not giving up.
There will certainly be ups and downs, but so far for me it’s been worth taking the risk; unequivocally better than not taking it and forever wonder.
Am I still f**ked? Probably more than ever, but hey, maybe that is indeed “a good place to start”. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to say – this is it, my path is clear.
So to all graduates of 2015 and all those people trying to find out what they want to do – just take a deep breath, keep an open mind and let’s go.
Oh and here’s the speech: