Three words to remember for the graduates of 2016

This is a special June for me. Not only do I have a daughter graduating from high school in Delta, I also have a son graduating from BCIT. So much time has passed since they were little kids calling me Daddy - now I'm Dad, and they want me to help them fix their cars.

I guess that makes me a lot older, and hopefully a bit wiser than I was when they were kids. I thought I'd share a bit of what I've learned over my lifetime that might help them be successful in their future.

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There are three words I'd like them to remember as they go forward into the big, bad world: risk, responsibility and value.

People take risks every day but likely don't realize it. Every decision you make is a risk, and each decision will have an outcome. Some risks are small, like which route do I take to work today? Make the right choice, you're on time; make the wrong one and your boss is waiting for you when you arrive wondering where you've been. Others are bigger risks, like what do I want to do for a career? Who will I marry? Will I have children? Those are all turning points in life that you will face, and will determine the life you live.

Risk is something that entrepreneurs face every day, from the day they start their business.

They invest their time, effort and money hoping to build a viable business that can grow over time. There is no reward without taking a chance; the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential outcome.

Just be prepared for when a risk doesn't work out, because sometimes they don't. Those are called learning opportunities. Next is responsibility.

Responsibility is something people will respect over time. Do what you say you'll do. Be reliable. Don't pass the buck or blame something or someone else. Own your actions. Live a life of integrity. Do the right thing, the things that you are proud to have your name attached to, even when no one else knows about it. You'll sleep better.

The last word on my list is value. Success in life comes from the value you bring to other's lives. The world doesn't owe you anything until you add something to it. And just because you get a university degree doesn't mean you'll be adding value, it has to make a real difference in someone else's life.

Everything you do for someone else brings value to their lives, it just depends on how much of a difference you make and how many other people can do the same thing.

A waiter in a restaurant provides different value than a plumber fixing my hot water tank. My dentist adds different value than my financial planner.

But value isn't always financial, sometimes the compensation is the feeling you get by making someone else's life just a bit better, like volunteering your time or donating to charity.

I took a chance when I got married and had children. My wife and I took the responsibility of providing for them. Our kids have made our lives special. And today, we get one of our greatest rewards, seeing our children graduate.

We are so very proud of you. Brad Sherwin, MBA has over 25 years' experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He is currently the director of marketing for a national non-profit organization.

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