Class of 2017-Keep your feet on the ground

For all those students graduating high school and college, and for all their parents, here is an inspirational story to remind you that, even when you don’t know what you’re going to do or how you’re going to afford it, your attitude and work ethic will help you reach for the stars.

A few years ago, I was honored to be invited back for the tenth straight year to speak at Florida State University’s New Student Orientation, which involved six weeks of speaking to 6,000 students and 10,000 parents. It’s always awesome to see how the students and parents react to the concept of writing the next chapter of their lives called “The College Experience.”

There was one student whose journey left an impression on me and whose story is worth telling again and again. This young man hadn’t had it easy. His family was dealing with a lot of issues, so much so that he had to drop out of high school and get a job so he could feed himself. Instead of giving up on his education, he bought or borrowed his friends’ textbooks, learning on his own. When the time came for him to take the SAT, he scored high enough to earn a full ride to Florida State.

While the scholarship covered his tuition, it wasn’t going to cover his living expenses or books, so when he arrived on campus, alone and without any parents there to support him, he had no idea how he was going to make it through the next four years. After hearing me speak at his orientation, the young man came up to me, and instead of asking me to sign a book, he handed me his shoe.

He said, “I want you to sign my shoe. That way, every time I’m overwhelmed and I look down, I’ll see my foot and remember that I’m the star of my show, I can write anything I want in the next chapter, and I am Living the Dream.”

This student blew me away. He was bright and hard working, and he was willing to take the chance to come to college even though he didn’t know how he could afford it. Part of Living the Dream is knowing what your dream is, and this young man’s dream was to go to college. He had the passion and persistence to do whatever he could to make that happen.

Remember, passion supersedes natural ability every time — this young man was sharp, but without his passion, he wouldn’t have made it to Florida State.

Next time you’re feeling defeated or unsure, look at your shoes and remember the young man from Florida State University who is figuring out how to Live the Dream one step at a time. You’re the director, so take charge of your show and produce the life you deserve.

As Casey Kasem would say, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

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  1. Robin Barrow

    I was one of those parents with a child at FSU Orientation….it seems like more than 4 years have gone by, but I have always remembered how powerful and meaningful hearing you speak was for me. My daughter graduates this year (late, in December, because she was a social butterfly) and she is lost. Her soon to be Media degree an accomplishment, but not a motivator. What can I say to her? How do I help my 21 year old push herself forward when she doesn’t know where to go or how to get there?

    1. Curtis Post author

      Wow there is a lot here and I am not sure that we can cover it all with a blog response. Let me share this, the average college student graduates in five years and coming out of college and not knowing the next move covers the vast majority of college students that I work with every year. Being supportive and patient during someones exploration can sometimes be the easiest way to have them act on the good advice you have given them in the past. Not knowing all of the events and circumstances over the past few years I don’t know that I can be much more help than this. One last comment I know approximately 50% of people who start college don’t graduate. Your daughter is graduating and I would definitely take time to celebrate the win to help build momentum toward the next goal.

      I hope this was helpful. Keep Living the Dream. Curtis

  2. auurey

    and once again you gave me the chills! With my daughter going off to college in Sept. you know what my dream is right now? That she gets to watch/listen to you – just ONE time (well maybe more).

    Want to hear something funny – I ordered your book ‘Keys to Success in College and Life’ but I never received it – despite amazon showing it “delivered” – I’m guessing that it was mistakenly left at the wrong address – and whoever got it – liked it so much they KEPT it! I’m ordering it again right now – I want to give it to my daughter for graduation – after I read it! Curtis – I just ADORE all that you do!
    Audrey – from Tura