If you were given the opportunity to speak to thousands of new graduates about to set out into the world, what would you say? For Ron Graham, an alumnus and donor who received an honourary Doctor of Laws degree at spring convocation, it was about the principles he follows in his own life, including striving to be your best and helping others. Inspired by John Wooden, one of the most successful basketball coaches in US College history, these principles of success have guided Ron throughout his life.
Ron Graham graduated in 1962 with a BSc in civil engineering. Following graduation, he went to work for the family construction company, Graham Construction, which has grown from $3 million in sales in 1962 to over $2 billion in 2012. Ron and his wife Jane have given close to $11 million to the university, supporting a number of initiatives and facilities. Giving back with both dollars and time, Ron has been a generous supporter and advocate for the University of Saskatchewan, and is proud to call the U of S his alma mater.
During his speech to the graduates, Ron noted, “Giving financially may be difficult when you’re just starting this phase of your life, but giving time and talents can not only be rewarding to you but also to the recipient of your gifts. Giving of yourself makes generosity a habit and as you complete your degree and venture out into the world, you will find ways to give back to the community, the university, colleagues, and friends. You have many gifts to share and in some cases you don’t realize it yet.”
Watch the full video of Ron’s speech:
Highlights from Ron’s speech:
1) Strive to accomplish the very best you are capable of.
Nothing less than your best effort will suffice. You may fool others, but you can never fool yourself. Self-satisfaction will come from the knowledge that you left no stone unturned in an effort to accomplish everything possible under the circumstances. When we strive to do our very best, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to achieve success within the context of our own unique abilities. Success is the peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming. Don’t judge yourself by what you have accomplished, but rather by what you could have accomplished given your ability.
2) Help others.
You have not lived a perfect day until you have done something for somebody who cannot repay you. Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and feelings of others before your own rights.
3) Make each day your masterpiece.
Life is precious, time irreplaceable. You don’t have a moment to lose. Time is a gift that helps us to make each day our masterpiece. Begin by trying to make each day count and knowing you can never make up for the lost day. If you don’t have time to do things right, WHEN will you have time to do them over? Learn today as though you were to live forever; live today as if you were to die tomorrow.
4) Take control of today.
Set clear goals. Take measureable steps toward achieving those goals. Put an end to procrastination. Beware of distractions and time wasters. Make a time log and focus on excellence. Give yourself the opportunity to make the most of each day.
5) Make friendship a fine art.
Cultivate close meaningful friendships and work at being a great friend to others. Don’t take friendships for granted. Friendship is giving and sharing of yourself. Friendship is when you do good things for each other. It is showing concern and consideration. The most important step in friendship is BEING A FRIEND.
6) Build a shelter against a rainy day by the life you lead.
Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned about who gets the credit. The issue here is accumulating values, virtues, character traits, strong family relationships and enduring friendships. Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. People of mediocre ability can achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. It is not so important who starts the game, but who finishes it. Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.
Ron and his wife Jane are examples of what these principles look like in action. Ron is an entrepreneurial business leader and a highly accomplished professional engineer. He and his wife Jane are generous supporters and advocates for the University of Saskatchewan. They have generously supported numerous athletic programs, scholarships and many other initiatives across the university including the Huskie Clubhouse expansion and the Centre for Study of Communications located in the College of Engineering.