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chudnovsky-law Tsion Chudnovsky
6mo Newport Beach, CA, USA Story
5 Best Commencement Speeches to Inspire You (No Matter What Your Age!)

Sometimes when I feel like I’m stuck and not getting results in my criminal defense law firm Chudnovsky Law, I look for words of wisdom and inspiration to lift me out of my rut.  It’s so easy to get buried in legal work and lose sight of the big picture and need a spark of inspiration.

Like in most professions, building a successful career as a lawyer requires a strategy and vision of where you want to go – and the inspiration, hard work and energy to get you there.

Commencement speeches are one of the greatest collegiate traditions. They’re a rare chance to hear some of our greatest leaders, actors, legal minds and business titans give really great advice. The best speeches crackle with wit and intelligent observations about life and can serve as a powerful shot of inspiration that sparks a change in perspective.

There have been some great commencement speeches to law schools like Sally Yates to Harvard Law and David Alan Sklansky to Stanford Law.  But when you need true inspiration to get into the right mindset, the 5 speeches below will do the trick no matter what age you are.

Top 5 Commencement Speeches:

Steve Jobs, Stanford University 2005

Steve Jobs’ heartfelt commencement address is insightful and uplifting. Told in three stories on life, love and loss: (1) Connecting the dots, (2) Love and loss, and (3) Keep looking, don’t settle.

Words of wisdom:

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition ... Stay hungry, Stay foolish."

Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University 2013

Oprah shares her inspiring life story from rural Mississippi through building her eponymous talk show and OWN network.

Words of wisdom:

“It doesn't matter how far you might rise. At some point you are bound to stumble because if you're constantly doing what we do, raising the bar. If you're constantly pushing yourself higher, higher the law of averages not to mention the Myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

“No matter what challenges or setbacks or disappointments you may encounter along the way, you will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal, there really is only one, and that is this: to fulfill the highest most truthful expression of yourself as a human being.”

Denzel Washington, Dillard University 2015

Denzel Washington’s stirring speech shared three parables: (1) Put God first, (2) Fail Big and (3) You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.

Words of wisdom:

“Dreams without goals are just dreams…Have dreams with goals.”

“The most selfish thing you can do in this world is help someone else. Why is it selfish? Because the gratification, the goodness that comes to you.”

“Work hard to get it. When you get it, reach back and pull someone else up.”

J.K. Rowling, Harvard University 2008

Rowling shares some of her amazing life story and how out of great failure and poverty she persisted and created the most successful literary franchise of all time.

Words of wisdom:

“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

“I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Jim Carrey, Maharishi University of Management, 2014

As you may expect with Jim Carrey, his speech begins with some great jokes. But as the speech continued, he became more spiritual, sharing encouragement and inspiration. He focused on three main themes: self, fear and choice.

Words of wisdom:

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

“Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.”

“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.”

“Why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith, not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope; hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire, and faith leaps over it.”

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That's all five!

I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

Which were your favorite? Do you have other favorite commencement speeches?

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Tsion Chudnovsky

Chudnovsky Law is an award-winning Orange County, California law firm founded by attorney Tsion Chudnovsky. Tsion practices criminal defense, DUI defense and personal injury accident law. The firm's highly experienced team include former District Attorney and top Personal Injury Lawyers that have [...]

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