When the President of the United States speaks, you listen. And today more than 1,000 cadets at West Point Military Academy (and many, many more via the Internet) did just that.
Delivering the esteemed academy's commencement address, Barack Obama addressed the newest class of officers by speaking to his position on foreign policy, the future of America’s military, and the new and unique challenges that 2014’s graduates will face. He touched upon terrorism, American leadership, war, and the world that West Point's graduating class will soon enter. But no matter your military status, Obama’s speech made a few points that everyone can related to. Below, five takeaways from the Commander-in-chief. [Tweet these tips!]
1. Learn to adapt. Obama told graduates, “The world is changing with accelerating speed. This presents opportunity, but also new dangers." He went on to say. "It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.” His point: The world we live in isn't the same as it was 10 years ago, last year, or even yesterday for that matter. Graduates today are tasked with the challenge of adapting to an ever-changing world, and working toward solutions to responding to that world. Refuse to change, refuse to adapt, and you'll be left behind.
2. Be a good leader. "The question we face is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead," Obama told the newest class of officers. Throughout his speech, the president emphasized America's important place on the world stage. But being a leader is about more than just being powerful or being the one in charge. Setting a good example starts with leading the right way—by example, and through strong beliefs, perseverance, and hard work. (Need a place to start? Check out words of wisdom from these nine female leaders.)
3. Find the right solutions. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean every problem is a nail.” This one basically speaks for itself. Think outside of the box. You'll be surprised what you can figure out.
4. Follow the rules. Obama told graduates, “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example." He added, "We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.” And while this certainly applies to leadership (if you're the boss, you should follow the rules you'd like your employees to follow too!), it relates to more. A healthy lifestyle, for one, is something that comes with a recipe for success (we try to share that recipe with you every day!), and while everyone needs a slight variation of ingredients (exercise, diet, and sleep, for example), following the rules is a surefire way to keep yourself on track and accountable.
5. Surround yourself with good people. “We should not expect change to happen overnight. That’s why we form alliances—not only with governments, but with ordinary people.” Okay, so you might not be able to call up the U.K. to back you on that business plan you've been toying with, but finding the right people to support you, guide you, and just be there for you during this crazy life is super important. In fact, studies show that strong support systems (alliances?) are linked to longer, healthier, and happier lives.