Graduation season is here. With a new round of graduations comes a new round of buying gifts.
I don’t like buying gifts. It’s not that I don’t want to recognize special days with presents, it’s just that I don’t want to go out and buy anything—for any reason. Here’s the problem: there are too many options. I can waste huge amounts of time searching for the right gift that will be opened, immediately appreciated, and then quickly forgotten. It all seems very futile.
This is why I’m a big advocate of giving cash to grads. It makes them happy. It connects me in a tangible way to their celebration. And it’s always the right size.
Kristi is not a fan of the cash only plan. She actually enjoys getting the special people in our lives gifts that reflect the depth of our relationship with them and a certain amount of familiarity with their hopes, goals, personal tastes, and achievements.
I think cash does the same thing.
But if I were going to get gifts for this year’s graduates, here is a list of what they would be….
An Alarm Clock
The success of anyone in the graduating class of 2013 is only slightly determined by their IQ, their GPA, or whether their degree is a BA, BS, MBA, PhD or GED. Their success will be largely determined by their ability to show up. You can’t show up if you don’t wake up.
If you want to succeed, show up. If you want to advance, show up on time. If you want to get ahead, show up early.
A Pocket Notebook
Please don’t think I’m cheap for including this. In my life, pocket notebooks have saved me thousands of hours of frustration. I keep my to do lists, my grocery lists, and an occasionally captured good idea in the cheap notebooks I carry around. A 25 cent notebook and a 10 cent pencil can multiply any person’s ability to complete tasks and retrieve valuable information.
A Day Planner
Having a day planner implies that some planning must take place. This gift pairs nicely with the Alarm Clock mentioned above. I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping appointments. Though missing a meeting or failing to show up at an appointment is not immoral or criminal, there are few things outside of the realm of immoral and criminal that will make you lose credibility faster being a no-show.
Besides keeping a record of where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there, the day planner forces a person to prioritize. There are only so many hours in a day. One of the best things that can be done before going to bed at night is to decide what to do the next day. When we wake up to a blank schedule, we find ourselves getting caught up in doing whatever grabs our attention first, regardless of how meaningful or important it may be.
The day planner allows for the most important things in a person’s life to have priority. When we schedule time for family, God, and friendships, those things get tended to. When we don’t plan for what’s most important, we bounce around from crisis to crisis, putting off those things we know we should do, until at the end of the day/week/month, we’ve wasted all of our time and energy and have nothing to show for it.
A pocketknife turns its bearer into an instant engineer. A pocketknife says, “I can survive.” When the zombie apocalypse comes, 9 out of 10 survivors are going to be carrying pocketknives.
A pocketknife makes you resourceful. Grads are going to find themselves in situations their education and training have not prepared them for. They are going to have to use their creativity to carve their way out of some problems. A pocketknife and a little creativity is the training ground for learning how to excel in a world of chaos and change.
In this age of GPS navigation and Mapquest, what in the world would a graduate need with a compass? I think everyone needs something in their life that points to true north. Where you are is not nearly as important as where you are going.
Every graduate will need to remember there are constants in life. God is constant. His love for us never wanes. Having an inner compass that always points to God will serve every graduate well. Giving your graduate a connection to their ultimate purpose and destiny, the telos of their existence, will allow them to navigate the ambiguity of life with a sense of purpose.
You knew I would be getting around to this. Everyone needs a Bible to keep them grounded in God.
In a very practical sense, the Bible reminds us that we don’t have to make things up as we go. It supplies us with purpose, meaning and significance. It sharpens the needle of our inner compass. It fills our imagination with the possibilities of the Kingdom of God. Through good and continual use, it transforms our lowly lives into the image of the glorious life of the Son of God.
Go ahead, get them a Bible, and pray they read it.
To graduate is to be catapulted to the bottom of life’s next ladder. Being on the bottom of the ladder usually involves taking orders and doing things other people don’t want to do. This may include, but is not limited to, sweeping.
Graduates, embrace your broom. The sweeping years are the incubator for the leadership years. The best leaders never lose touch with their broom pushing days. The moment a person becomes too good to pick up a broom, they’ve lost their ability to be a great leader.
If the graduate you are considering buying a gift for is already independently wealthy and lives on a private island, skip buying the comb. But, if they are part of the 99.999% of the rest of humanity, they will have to adopt certain social graces that connect them other people. A comb—and maybe a toothbrush and some deodorant—will give them the foundation for successful human interactions.
I’m not saying you have to be a model to succeed. Far from it. I will say to every graduate, “Look like you take your job and yourself seriously.” It does not matter what job you may take, you are representing the person who hired you. Be groomed and clean. It makes an immediate positive impression on the people you will meet.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a smattering of personal thoughts about the things that have benefited me the most since graduation.
If you are reading this and really considering any of the above items for any of the graduates in your life, just know they will appreciate your gift more as long as it is accompanied by cash!
Congratulations 2013 Graduates and Congratulations to the people who supported you!