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Advice to High School Students, Part I: Work Hard; Play Hard

On May 21, 2015, I gave my farewell talk to the Portsmouth Abbey School community. In the following ten posts I shall provide my ten points of advice I offered specifically to the students.

1. Work hard, play hard, and don’t mix the two. What you do, do with gusto. In Room 2 of the classroom building, there is a Latin inscription: Age quod agis: Do what you do. At first, I did not think much of it—not much there, I said. Upon reflection, it came to mean more. Set positive goals for yourself, short term as well as long term, and muster the courage and determination to achieve them. This principle reminds of my hero Yoda from Star Wars when he was training Luke Skywalker. Luke could not succeed in raising his downed ship from the swamp. Luke: “I tried but I just cannot do it.” Yoda: “Try, do you? Do or do not. There is no trying!” Yes, work hard; play hard. But play clean and legal. Don’t do anything stupid. If you have to break God’s law, the laws of the land, or your family’s unwritten law, you are headed for trouble. Also, working hard includes setting sizable and not small goals. Remember the words of Daniel Burnham, Chief of Works, 1893 Columbian Exposition: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized.”


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