new graduatesYesterday was a massively ‘Proud Mummy Moment’ when my eldest munchkin Max graduated with a BA Honours in Radio Production at Westminster University.  The event was held at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London and we all got dressed up at the crack of dawn to travel there by 9.30am!

The three hour ceremony ahead of us, however, was daunting to say the least. Hundreds of graduands flitted about in their baggy black robes like bats in a cave. Nitpicking mothers, fiddled with the velcro fittings, balanced wonky mortar boards and fixed untidy ties.  The short walk across the stage to shake the hand of the Chancellor whilst their name was announced would see them exit as a New Graduate. The whole affair involved a great deal of clapping and whooping!

Broadcaster Jon Snow’s advice to New Graduates

As part of the ceremony the illustrious newscaster Jon Snow and the sharp-minded entertainer Sandi Toksvig were being awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters.  First up was Jon Snow to accept his award and he had some important advice for the New Graduates before him.

He was sorry that, unlike in his day, young New Graduates were in a system which left them at least £40,000 in debt before they even stepped onto the first rung of their career ladder.  Indeed, somewhat surprisingly, it transpired that he had been unceremoniously thrown out of Liverpool University for his political campaigning against apartheid.  Many years later they apologised and bestowed an honorary degree on him to right their wrong. He wanted the New Graduates to be aware of life around them and to stand up for what they saw as wrong.  Jon also urged them to do voluntary work to help others in their locality.

Writer and presenter Sandi Toksvig’s thoughts for New Graduates

Sandi Toksvig was presented with her degree halfway through the proceedings which was a welcome break in the clapping we did for almost each and every New Graduate. She had, it turned out, been asked to summarise her life’s experience and distill it down to the best nuggets of advice she could in the given 3 minute slot! She loved the irony and had a crack at it!

Sandi addressed the women first and urged them to shout up and be heard in a world largely engineered by men. She roused them all up to follow their real passion, something I wholeheartedly agree with. And she ended that comment with the order to quit their job if they were ever bored. Life was too short, she reminded us. With that she mentioned that the men would one day find that they had lost their hair and the young and gorgeous women before her, she said, wouldn’t even want to know what they would lose!

In an ever-evolving world, she wanted them to shine and be as brilliant as they could be in their chosen sphere; to work hard and achieve their best.

But in the manner of a frustrated mother, she also reminded them to remain present and in the moment and not to text and tweet to other friends about what they were doing!  Instead she asked them to remain in the moment and enjoy the time with the friends they were actually with! We all had a good laugh about that one!

As another batch of New Graduate Osteopaths fly from the nest, this advice is all very pertinent to them too. Because this industry is largely made up of millions of small businesses it is possible to create the life you want, build the level of success that suits you and make immediate changes or improvements to the way things are run at any given moment.

Begin with a Vision Board or at least a set of written goals which will create your idea of a wonderful life. Try thinking about what you’d like to achieve in the next year, five years and ten years. Those who have goals are proven much more likely to reach them than those who drift through life. Those with no life satnav often wonder, in their later years, why they don’t like their life, their partner or their work!

Sandi’s final words of wisdom were these:

“If you equate your career and life with running a marathon and you trip over a stick, it is not helpful to get up and stare at the stick!  Just get up and start running again!”