Graduation Quotes

Handpicked, graduation quotes from a unique collection of 200 best commencement speeches.

It doesn't matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping.

- JERRY ZUCKER


Sucess is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it... Err in the direction of kindness.

- GEORGE SAUNDERS


You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.

- ALAN ALDA
graduation quotes


As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.

- MICHAEL DELL


The person who you're with most in life is yourself and if you don't like yourself you're always with somebody you don't like.

- MARK LEWIS


Don't always worry what your next line is going to be.

- RICHARD COSTOLO

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The great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.

- DAVID MCCULLOUGH JR


It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

- J.K.ROWLING


If your uniform isn't dirty, you haven't been in the game.

- BEN BERNANKE


It's hard not to be afraid. Be less afraid.

- SUSAN SONTAG

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You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse. You can’t take it with you.

- DENZEL WASHINGTON


You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face. Never.

- WOODY HAYES


Last but not least, I would say you should have big dreams, full dreams, not half dreams. You know, it's very simple. You can't put a large box in a small box. Well, you cannot put a full life in a small dream box.

- ELIAS ZERHOUNI


Fear is primarily a creation of the mind. I create it in my mind—it doesn’t really exist outside the mind. I can dissolve it there as well.

- JOHN MACKEY


Take action. Every story you've ever connected with, every leader you've ever admired, every puny little thing that you've ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life.

- BRADLEY WITHFORD


My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.

- WESTHEIMER


We all go through life bristling at our external limitations, but the most difficult chains to break are inside us.

- BRADLEY WHITFORD


I know that luck has a way of happening to people who shoot high, who never sell themselves short.

- TERI TEACHOUT
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Don't be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.

- ED HELMS


And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

- NEIL GAIMAN


When people tell you not to believe in your dreams, and they say "Why?", say "Why not?"

- BILLIE JEAN KING


Just remember, you can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.

- ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER


You will have failures in your life, but it is what you do during those valleys that will determine the heights of your peaks.

- RAHM EMANUEL


For the most important decisions in your life, trust your intuition, and then work with everything you have, to prove it right.

- TIM COOK


Nobody else is paying as much attention to your failures as you are... To everyone else, it's just a blip on the radar screen, so just move on.

- JERRY ZUCKER


This is your time and it feels normal to you but really there is no normal. There's only change, and resistance to it and then more change.

- MERYL STREEP


Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course... We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

- PAUL HAWKEN
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Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, life is about building the fire. And generosity is the match...If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap, but if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.

- LARRY LUCCHINO


Life has a very simple plot: first you're here and then you're not.

- ERIC IDLE


You're biggest risk isn't failing, it's getting too comfortable.

- DREW HOUSTON


We're not just gathered here on a lovely May day in an ordinary auditorium at SF state. We're all strapped in, seated together on a gigantic ball whirling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, nested in a galaxy hurtling through the depths of space and time at 1.3 million miles per hour.

- Kirk Schneider


That diploma you hold in your hands today is really just your learner’s permit for the rest of the drive through life. Remember, you don’t have to be smarter than the next person, all you have to do is be willing to work harder than the next person.

- Jimmy Iovine


Pursue whatever it is that you want to do with your life. It is the only secret to happiness that I know except for maybe true love, that and maybe having the amazing health insurance plan that our congressmen have.

- Lewis Black


Pursue whatever it is that you want to do with your life. It is the only secret to happiness that I know except for maybe true love, that and maybe having the amazing health insurance plan that our congressmen have.

- Lewis Black


Respect people with less powe then you. I don't care if you're the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful. So there.

- Tim Minchin


It’s harder to build than destroy. To build is to engage and change. In jazz, we call progressing harmonies changes. Changes are like obstacles on a speed course. They demand your attention and require you to be present. They are coming...they are here..... and then they are gone. It's how life comes. Each moment is a procession from the future into the past and the sweet spot is always the present. Live in that sweet spot. Be present.

- Wynton Marsalis


By all reckoning, the bumblebee is aerodynamically unsound and shouldn’t be able to fly. Yet, the little bee gets those wings going like a turbo-jet and flies to every plant its chubby little body can land on to collect all the nectar it can hold. Bumblebees are the most persistent creatures. They don’t know they can’t fly, so they just keep buzzing around. Like the lowly bumblebee, honored graduates, never give in to pessimism. Don’t know that you can’t fly, and you will soar like an eagle.

- Earl Bakken


I could tell you that when you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself you’ll settle it by flipping a coin. But don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?

- David Brooks


Sometimes, the only way to discover who you are or what life you should lead is to do less planning and more living— to burst the double bubble of comfort and convention and just do stuff, even if you don’t know precisely where it’s going to lead, because you don’t know precisely where it’s going to lead.

- Daniel Pink


Creativity is a consequence of action, not its motivation. Do what needs to be done and then ask whether it was possible.

- Wade David


You get to make your own luck. 80% of success in your career will come from just showing up. The world is run by those who show up…not those who wait to be asked.

- Steve Blank


You have nothing to lose. Everything you have acquired of value is locked inside you.

- Jerry Zucker


You cannot authentically live anyone's life but your own. That is the deal life offers us.

- Gabrielle Giffords


To be your own person, you need good friends. Friends are the treasure of your life.

- Garrison Keillor


Here's the thing: the world is not going to issue you an engraved invitation to this life.

- Sarah Heidt


Whatever blocks you encounter, you have learned that there is a way over, around or through them. It is not those obstacles that inhibit your progress but your confidence, and will to break the inertia of fear and doubt. 

- Douglas Smith


Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face—and there will be barriers—be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try.

- Sheryl Sandberg


And the corollary to carpe diem is gratitude, gratitude for simply being alive, for having a day to seize. The taking of breath, the beating of the heart. Gratitude for the natural world around us — the massing clouds, the white ibis by the shore. In Barcelona a poetry competition is held every year. There are three prizes: The third prize is a rose made of silver, the second prize is a golden rose, and the first prize: a rose. A real rose. The flower itself. Think of that the next time the term “priorities” comes up.

- Billy Collins


You’re going to be doing things and you are going to be scared. It’s natural. Everybody is. And when that happens, and it’s going to happen more than once, do me a favor: go back to the days of your childhood, go in the 100 Acre Wood, take a deep breath and just say, “I’m stronger than I seem, I’m braver than I believe, and I’m smarter than I think.” And then go do it, that’s what it is.

- James Carville

graduation quotes


I was blessed with a mother who was in a constant state of wonder...And whenever I'd complain or be upset about something, my mother had the same advice: "Darling, change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don't replay the bad, scary movie.

- Arriana Huffington


Creativity is a renewable resource. Be as creative as you like, as often as you like, because you can never run out!

- Biz Stone


Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what's going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.

- Stephen Colbert


Don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Laught at yourself, but don't doubt yourself.

- Alan Alda


We have the choice, the ability to acknowledge that being 'scared' is not who we are.

- Paul Glaser


Live in that sweet spot. Be present.

- Wynton Marsalis


Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.

- Nora Ephron


Don't treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used.

- Amy Poehler


There's no there. That elusive 'there' with the job, the beach house, the dream, it's not out there. There is here. It's in you... right now.

- Brian Kenny


Success leads to the greatest failure, which is arrogance and pride. Failure can lead to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.

- David Brooks


Be Santa Claus when you can.

- Jimmy Buffett


The opposite of love isn't hate. It isn't even indiference. It's fear.

- Mary Karr


There will be times when your best isn’t your good enough. There can be many reasons for this, but as long as you give your best you’ll be OK.

- Robert DeNiro


Some life lessons don’t ever change. But how you embrace them will distinguish you from the pack.

- Brooke Shields


In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.

- David Brooks


You can’t control how smart you are, how funny you are, how good-looking you are. The one thing you can control in your life is how hard you work.

- Ian Brennan


As you get older, you realize that no one has all the answers. It turns out that life is an exercise in living with the certainty of uncertainty.

- Jason Kilar

   

 

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Graduation quotes with delightful metaphors and inspiring advice play a big role in why I end up staying late most nights to work on this website. Every time I discover another amazing commencement speech peppered with delicious, smart quotations, I can't wait to spread the word. I can't possibly abate my hope that many more people will find, read, and learn from this advice.

This is a growing collection of some of the best graduation quotes ever. They truly are spectacular. Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing the wisdom with those young graduates and all those young at heart.

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GREAT GIFTS FOR GRADUATES:

The following books have been published based on original, amazing graduations speeches. Highly recommended:

1.
Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

2.
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling



3.

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life


4.

You Are Not Special: ... And Other Encouragements


5.

Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders


 

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