I discovered a draft of my speech for Centura’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony in 2010. I, also, had this photo from that night. As I read over the speech I could imagine me writing this same speech today, of course I would be older. I would have more failures and more successes to share… Anyway, I thought the message was worth sharing. Enjoy a small trip back in time to when I was 38…
Centura National Honor Society Speech
Good evening… I am honored to speak at such an important event in your lives. I stand before you at the halfway point in my life, I am 38 years old. In those 38 years, I have failed many times. I lost my last high school football game in 3 overtimes, and then would quit playing football after my freshman year in college. I let my first true love leave me and never got her back. I technically do not have a mom or a dad to help me through life. In high school, I dated a girl my best friend liked. We did not speak to each other for 6 months. I have yelled at my children only because I was having a bad day. I have had personal dreams die. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels taped together.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Uhmm Mr. Boelhower this is suppose to be a happy occasion…” Hold on, give me a moment.
I stand before you at the halfway point of my life, I am 38 years old. In those 38 years, I have succeeded many times. I was selected to play in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl, one of the few players to be selected from a losing team. I would compete in track and field at Hastings College and continue as an assistant coach. I am married to a wonderful woman and have five beautiful children. And yes, it was true love at first sight, at least for me. My best friend was my best man at my wedding, and I was his best man. Just last night at the dinner table, we laughed as we made-up the shortest “Once upon a time” stories. I have succeeded at dreams I never knew I had. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels so much love it could exploded.
Now, why do I share this with you, because you will someday stand at the halfway mark and find that life has been nothing like you thought, and that is the beauty of it, both the pain and the joy. But to get to that point, to be able to embrace the complexity of life you need a strong foundation, which brings us to this moment. Why we are here. Tonight is a moment that symbolizes the foundations you build your life on, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character.
Each of these foundations is important to life. Let us take a minute to redefine these foundations with real world definitions.
Scholarship: It is not just about the grades. Scholarship is discovering and sharing the truth. The truth of what works in this world and what works in your own life. It is learning from your mistakes and your victories.
Service: Is not just volunteering. Service is Love in action. Love of family and friends, of your fellow humans, of a better tomorrow. Service is the opening of your heart to see others succeed. The cool part is when you do this; you start to see your true self.
Leadership: is not just being the head person in charge. Leadership is the courage to serve and to learn. We are all leaders at some point in our lives, as a mom or dad. A coach, a friend. Many people “talk” about what should be done, few do it. It takes courage to get things done; it takes courage to do what is right. It takes courage to open your heart, to love those around you.
Character: is not just principles of morality and ethics. It is your everyday life, lived. It is the choices you make, mixed with the things you say, combined with the attitude you express. It is you, everyday.
These foundations are strong; these foundations allow you, us, to handle the darkest hours. They give us something to land on when we are knocked down. And they provide the support to pick yourself up, to not shy away from the pain, but build and learn from those moments.
These foundations are good. They allow us to bask in the sunshine, to truly experience love, joy, and life. They lift us up. They connect us to others, friends, family, and community. These foundations give depth to our lives and fuel us to pursue the dreams we choose.
Life is complex, and that is the beauty of it. Be confident in your foundations. Stand tall, even when you feel down. Love when your heart is broken. Live everyday by what you know is true. And live a life of greatness, everyday…