Carlos Slim Commencement Speech 2012
Good morning. My family and I are very proud of this Honorary Degree and particularly for being with you on your commencement day, our commencement day.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the Board of Trustees and President Knapp of George Washington University for this distinction. 18 years ago in 1994 I wrote a letter to the students who participated in the ceremony of the Academy of American Achievement. I rewrote it for the purpose of reading it to you today, to express some of the thoughts that I have experienced as well as conversations and readings that have come to me during my life.
I hope to contribute to your way of thinking and living, your social commitment, emotional strength, your sense of responsibility, maturity and, above all, your real happiness. Real happiness that is a product of who you are and how you conduct yourselves on a daily basis.
Success is not being recognized by others. It is not about an external opinion. It is about an internal state of being. It is the harmony between the soul and our emotions that are fed by love, family, friendship, authenticity, and honesty. The fundamental and permanent values that are far superior to professional, economic, social or political success.
Fortitude and emotional balance are part of your inner self and are achieved by avoiding negative feelings such as envy, jealousy, arrogance, anger, and greed, feelings that are a poison which is ingested bit by bit. Chronic pessimism leads to mediocrity. When you give, do not expect to receive. "Aroma remains in the hands that gives roses" says a Chinese proverb. Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to dominate your spirit. Emotional damage does not come from third parties. It is forged and given leeway within ourselves. Remember, God forgives our sins but our nervous system doesn't.
Do not mistake values nor belittle principles. Life is a very long road, but it is traveled very fast. Live the present fully and intensely. Let the past not be a burden. May the future be an incentive. Live with a sense of urgency when you are creating, when you are innovating, when you are solving problems, when you are building. Anyone who carves his own future is able to influence reality.
Do not ignore reality. Live with positive feelings such as love, friendship, loyalty, courage, joy, good humor, optimism, self-esteem, peace, serenity, patience, confidence, responsibility, and commitment. As to those contrary feelings that attempt to invade your soul, do not let them inhibit your spirit. Do not allow them to set root. Take them away.
Many times you will make mistakes. It is human and usual. But always try to make small ones. Accept them, correct them, and forget them. Do not obsess over your mistakes. Remember heaven and hell are within us.
What is most worthwhile in life does not have a price: Love, friendship, nature, forms, colors, sounds, and smells that we perceive with our senses, the feelings that are only appreciated when we are awake and open to enjoying life. To be born is a miracle. We should love life always, even during the worst of circumstances. It makes us stronger and develops a positive sense within us and with others.
Live without fears and without guilt. Fear is the worst sentiment of human beings. It weakens us, inhibits actions, and depresses us. Guilt is a tremendous burden that weighs down our thinking, our actions, and our lives. Fear and guilt make the present difficult and obstruct the future. Let us accept ourselves as we are, with our reality, our merits, and our grief.
Occupation displaces preoccupation, and problems when confronted disappear. Problems should make us stronger each time, and from our failures learn. Our successes should be silent stimuli. Always act pursuant to the dictates of your conscience. It is not possible to fool it. Live with your intelligence, your soul, and senses awake and alert to love and enjoy life.
We have the fortune of living a new civilization generous and virtuous of freedom, democracy, diversity, plurality, knowledge, human rights, technology, innovation, creativity, globalization, social mobility, and environmental care, where the development is sustained by the welfare of all. Fighting against poverty and ignorance is not only from ethical, social, and moral reasons but also because of economic needs.
We are committed to developing human capital through health and modern high quality education, connect to grow with broadband in and investing and promoting where the new jobs will be created. New jobs will be created in the information and communications technology, in the development of publications, the micro, small, and medium companies that are all the way all companies begin, health care, education, culture, entertainment, tourism, physical capital, housing services, but we need education, education, and education as much as jobs, jobs, and more jobs. Work well done is not only a responsibility; it is also an emotional necessity.
All crises are opportunities to get stronger and change for the better. With your education, talent and efforts. It is your time to work for the right changes. It is your time to make a better world.
At the end, we leave without anything. But we should leave behind a better world to our children and, most importantly, better children to our world. Congratulations!