It’s the Coffee not the Cup that Matters
As we come together this evening to celebrate academic excellence, it is with great joy that on behalf of the IU Kokomo faculty and staff that I welcome friends, family members and, of course, our remarkable students.
Students I want to express my deep admiration for your personal commitment to excellence. You are here tonight because of your perseverance and self-discipline in completing this important milestone in your lives.
Tonight you are being honored for being on the Dean’s list, completing the honors program, being a student leader, or for being an outstanding student in your major.
Hard work, dedication, and commitment have played a role in your success.
Now with that success comes responsibility. We will look to you for your leadership. Society will look to you to make a difference in all of the challenges we face in the future. So tonight I want to challenge you to lead, to make a difference. But it is important to think about HOW you will lead. One of my favorite poets Maya Angelou once said, People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but People will never forget how you made them feel. Tonight I challenge you to lead with heart.
I am a strong proponent that the old art of storytelling is a great way to share a message. So my challenge to lead comes to you tonight within a story.
There was a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, who got together one night to visit an old university professor. Their conversation soon turned in to complaints about stress in their work and their lives.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – some were porcelain, some plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some were really quite exquisite – The professor told each of them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
"If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that often is the source of your problems and your stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee in most cases. It's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what you drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup. But you went for the best cups, and then began eyeing each other's cups."
The professor continued, "Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live."
For me, the quality of our life is found in the relationships we have with the ones we love. Take a moment and reflect on your relationships. Your life is full because of your connection to your parents, your spouse or significant other, children, family, friends and fellow students. It is in these relationships that we find joy in life.
Maya Angelou goes on to say, I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
Congratulations to all of you for your accomplishments, Best Wishes in the future, and I hope whenever you have the chance – you will focus on the coffee not on the cup.