Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Secret Sauce in Charlie Day's Amazing Speech

Of all the 2014 commencement speeches, the clear front-runner is Charlie Day. Speaking at his alma mater, Merrimack College, he managed to hit the ball so far out of the park, that his words are going viral.

That's right. We non-grads are tuning in too.

Why? Well, it's not because of his jokes, which were aplenty and it's not because he used the word, "sh!t," which is what all the reporters seem to think.

No, we have heard talented jokes before. And the use of a single bad-word does not a viral video make. (Well, not this word anyway.)  So I'm sorry, but I'm afraid it's the front-runner because of what he actually said. And meant. And taught.

Because we don't hear people being honest about the "permanent" nature of things today, or the new and terrible fears such things create - down, down deep below. Or perhaps, when we do, we don't hear it written, nor delivered, just-so.

This is why he's going viral:
"Alright, one last story and then I'm outta here. The last story of what led me from there (his graduation) to here- is the literal act of agreeing to be here today.  
As is the case with all great opportunities, the reality of what I had to do set in ... "Dear God," I said to myself, "I'm going to have to give a speech ... I'm not a public speaker. I'm an actor. How am I going to do this?"
So I YouTube'd commencement speeches given by Conan O'Brian, Stephen Colbert and Steve Jobs. This was a terrible idea. Their speeches were so intelligent, so well informed, so eloquent! that only more panic began to set in. 
"What am I thinking? How could I ever compare?"
The truth is... I can't. I don't host a talk show or do stand-up ... I'm not nearly as smart as Steve Jobs. I don't know how my computer works - I don't even know how my toaster works!
And the YouTube comments. Ohhhh! The world of snarky comments we're living in! But perhaps that's the most terrifying thing of all: that what we do now is... permanent. 
But I didn't back out. I'm here speaking to you today. And I know that I will be judged by all those who care to watch on YouTube! And compared. But my lesson is this: I don't give a s---!  
Now listen up!
You cannot let a fear of failure, a fear of comparison, a fear of judgement, stop you from doing what's going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have your own voice without this risk of criticism. And you cannot love without the risk of loss. 
You must go out and you must take these risks. Everything I am truly proud of in this life has been a terrifying prospect to me. From my first play, to hosting SNL, to getting married - to being a father, to speaking to you today... none of it comes easy. 
And people will tell you to "do what makes you happy." But a lot of this has been hard work. And I'm not always happy. And I don't think you should "just do" what makes you happy - I think you should do what makes you great
What makes you uncomfortable.
And scary.
And what's hard... but pays off in the long run. 
Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Fail in the way and in the place where you would want to fail. Fail. Pick yourself up. And fail again. Because without this struggle - what is your success anyway?  
Look, as best we know it, we have one life. In it you have to trust your own voice, your own ideas, your honesty - your vulnerability... and through this you will find your way. You do not have to be fearless... 
Just don't let fear stop you. 
Live like this as best you can and I guarantee!... you will look back on a life well-lived."

Ah, Charlie Day. How well you have lived, and how well you have shared the secret of it. Be blessed. And may we all meet the challenge.

Peace out,

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