At our opening all-employee meeting on Monday, I shared some thoughts about the start of a new school year and my entry into Cary Academy.

Beginning with the end in mind, I started with a recent graduation speech at Syracuse University by author George Saunders (who I was later told is a hit in some of our senior English classes). Saunders spoke about risk taking and regret, two great topics not only for a graduation speech but for all of us in a reflective mood as we start on the journey of a new school year.

What stood out in Saunder’s reflections was his choice of regret. Not the rotten jobs or athletic humiliation, but a missed opportunity to show kindness to a mistreated girl in 7th grade. Saunders shared with the graduates his belief that we have evolved as humans to see ourselves and our own story as central to the universe, and thus have great difficulty seeing past our own egos to show genuine interest and kindness in others.

Saunders went on to say that as we mature, we gain more control of our ego and develop our capacity to care for others. Kindness, he says, is an important element of success.

As we start a new school year, this is a wonderful message about the impact of seemingly small personal interactions and the power of a strong community.
Read his full speech here: