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For all of you who appreciate the occasional inspiration, you may have noticed that I posted earlier a quote by Neil Gaiman. Two of them, actually.

Quote 1 – “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.

I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Quote 2 – “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.

You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before.

Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

I’ve been reading them daily and they have been inspiring me daily.

Today I thought I would track down where exactly these words came from. And among other places, I came across the information in this site about inspirational graduation speeches.

Yes, I know this is not the typical time of year for graduations or the speeches thereof. But I thought maybe, after a week of space between you and your New Years Resolutions, you might appreciate a boost.

My personal favorites are numbers 1, 3 and 6.

Although I do like the quote by JK Rowlings.

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’ve failed by default.

1. Stephen Colbert at Northwestern, 2011

Timothy Hiatt / Via Getty

BEST QUOTE: “Thankfully dreams can change. If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed and you’re not some loser – but just as importantly – if you do get your dream, you’re not a winner.”

Watch the full speech here

2. Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane, 2009

Tulane Public Relations / Via Flickr: tulanesally

BEST QUOTE: “The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give in to peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”

Watch the full speech here

3. Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

maveric2003 / Via Flickr: maveric2003

BEST QUOTE: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Watch the full speech here

4. Oprah Winfrey at Harvard, 2013

Boston Globe / Via Getty

BEST QUOTE: “Even though this is the college where Facebook was born, my hope is that you will try to go out and have more face to face conversations with people you disagree with. That you’ll have the courage to look them in the eye and hear their point of view and help make sure that the speed, and distance, and anonymity of our world doesn’t cause us to lose our ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and recognize all that we share as a people.”

Watch the full speech here

5. J.K. Rowling at Harvard, 2008

Robert Spencer / Via Getty

Best Quote: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might has well not have lived at all; in which case, you’ve failed by default.”

Watch the full speech here

6. Neil Gaiman at The University of the Arts, 2012

dtd72 / Via Flickr: dtd72

BEST QUOTE: “The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are…so make up your own rules.”

Watch the full speech here

7. Lewis Black at UCSD, 2013

Rick Diamond / Via Getty

BEST QUOTE: “You are now entering a world that’s filled to the brim with idiots. Since there are so many idiots out there, you actually may start to think you’re crazy. You are not. They are idiots.”

Watch the full speech here

8. David McCullough Jr. at Wellesley High School, 2012

Jim, the Photographer / Via Flickr: jcapaldi

BEST QUOTE: “Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

Watch the full speech here

9. Jon Stewart at William & Mary, 2004

Larry Busacca / Via Getty

BEST QUOTE: “College is something you complete, life is something you experience. Don’t worry about your grade, or the results, or success. Success is defined in myriad ways and you will find it and people will no longer be grading you. It will come from your own internal sense of decency.”

Watch the full speech here

10. Nick Selby at Georgia Tech, 2013

Will Folsom / Via Flickr: willfolsom

BEST QUOTE: “Our mission as students is not to follow in the footsteps of the astronauts, nobel prize laureates, and president who graduated before us – but to exceed their footsteps and crush the shoulders of the giants upon who we stand.”

Even though this isn’t technically a graduation speech, we’re still going to count it because it’s awesome.
Watch the full speech here

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