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Tuesday evening’s graduation speaker was Distinguished Alumni of the Year Chris Crowley.

Watch Dec. 17, 2013 Graduation.

Read about Upstate’s Oldest 2013 Graduate

In Crowley’s address, he read a letter he had written to his 22-year-old self:

Dear Genius:
In the 35 years that I have lived since I was your age, I have watched others and I, myself, have learned a few things that I think you need to know. I would urge you to consider these things because I have learned them over a lifetime and life itself can be the best and sometimes the toughest teacher.
They are:
1. Faith and Family come first. Economic success or money on its own, is very thin and unfulfilling. Strive towards excellence and money will take care of itself. The next shiny, material thing will not make you any happier. Also, be sure to jealously guard your integrity no matter what; once lost it can never be completely recovered.
2. The only person who is going to take care of you and your family during your lifetime is you and your partner. The world at large will take little notice of you or your families’ well-being.
3. Make yourself valuable to other’s success so that you too can succeed.
4. Successful people are not geniuses… they simply work harder, work longer, and they make better decisions. They never give up, and they take risks. They put themselves in position to be “lucky.”
5. Never, EVER, stop reading and learning. The surest way to fall behind in life is to let others do a better job of keeping current.
6. Be creative and try to constantly innovate. It is productive and it will keep your interest in your profession fresh and fun.
7. Think long-term… do not get in a hurry… a successful life is simply a long string of good decisions made every day in every aspect of life. It is a journey, not a destination and it takes time.
8. Do not easily take “no” for an answer. Never allow others to say “no” for you or let life say “no” for you simply by being too afraid or unwilling to try.
9. Although very unpleasant, failure is not a bad word. It is, in fact, absolutely necessary in order to succeed… you must endure it… (an example) In baseball, IF the best major league hitters are only right only one out of three times, they are going to the Hall of Fame… I want you to think about that… They fail two out of three times! Life is like that… Even Jesus did not “make it” in his hometown of Nazareth!
10. Be a good citizen… The surest path to true happiness is doing things for others. Charitable acts do as much, if not more, for the giver as the recipient.
11. Never forget where you came from… or the people who provided you a chance in life. Loyalty is a must!
12. Always be yourself… It is plenty good enough and to do otherwise is simply futile.
I hope you will seriously consider these things because I believe that a successful life is so much more than merely economic. It is something far richer and it has a much deeper meaning… True success is achieved with the mind, with labor, with integrity, and with, most importantly, the spirit.
Sincerely,
Older Genius
 
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