Abdul-Hakim Shabazz: Advice for the grads—share it with them

  • Comments
  • Print

Abdul-Hakim ShabazzLet me start this column off by saying that this is not for you, the average reader of these pages. This is for your son or daughter, niece or nephew, friend or family member’s kid who just graduated from high school or college.


Well, as someone who has taught high school, college and graduate school for nearly 20 years, I love this time of year, and I figure this is a good time to share some advice. It’s actually a compilation of advice, sayings and ideas I’ve picked up over the years that have served me well and could help others.

They aren’t meant to be enshrined on stone tablets, but they should be.

So, here’s my Top 10 list:

1. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, you just can’t figure it out right away, but eventually, you do. And you will be amazed at how the tragedy was necessary for you to triumph later.

2. Fear is OK; being afraid is not. A good healthy dose of fear helps keep you from doing stupid stuff that can ruin your future. Being afraid means you are less likely to take risks and explore new opportunities that can open lots of doors down the road.

3. The habits you developed here (high school or college) will either help or hinder you in the next phase of your life, so if you have problems with punctuality, finishing tasks on time, and working well with others, I suggest you fix them—ASAP.

4. The only thing you are owed is to be treated with dignity and respect. And that is all you owe anybody else.

5. We will all make mistakes along the way; it’s called experience. The trick is to learn from them so you don’t repeat them. Repeating mistakes and expecting a different outcome is called insanity.

6. Remember, learning is a lifelong process. Never stop trying to improve yourself. That will come in handy in 2050 when the androids show up to do your job. And this will be more important in 2060 when they begin their takeover of the world.

7. When getting your information from social media, remember, if you have to click more than three times to get to the ACTUAL story, what you’re reading is probably wrong.

8. Find a job that makes you happy. You will live within whatever income you make, so it will never be enough. But if you love what you do for a living, then the paycheck is worth it. And remember to save a little for a rainy day and feel free to splurge on occasion.

9. Before you dismiss the advice of older people, remember, they didn’t get to be old by being stupid. There are a lot of young people lying in the ground right now who thought they knew everything.

10. Have a sense of humor. Be able to laugh, with others and at yourself. Life’s too short to be “mad as hell” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not good for your health and it makes you age quicker. And watch the movie “Blazing Saddles”; it will make perfect sense once you do.

Of course, this list isn’t exclusive, and I am sure there are things that should be added or modified.

So, like I said, this column is not for you; it’s for your graduate. Be sure to give it to them and tell them congrats.

The fun part of life is just about to begin.•


Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

Click here for more Forefront columns.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.