Bob Sinclair’s personal advice to community college graduates

Editor’s note: Bob Sinclair delivered the commencement address at Indian Hills Community College last week in Ottumwa, Iowa. Farm Equipment watched the video and requested a copy of the speech to share with other dealers.

You did it! Each of you is a winner. Each of you is a grinder. You have overcome all the obstacles for the past few years and are sitting here today as a graduate.

Obtaining a university degree is an important step in your life. This chapter is over and a new one begins tomorrow.

It was your goal and now it is your past. Look around the room and take a good look at your classmates and instructors – you won’t see most of them again. The Indian Hills chapter of your life is over and you won’t be able to recreate those wonderful moments on campus. It’s easy to feel sad about leaving the past and fear the uncertainty of the future. Personally, I cried like a baby at my graduation.

But believe in yourself and know that the next chapter of your life will be even better. You have proven that you can adapt/overcome and conquer. And when you embrace that can-do attitude and the skills you’ve learned here, you’ll be UNSTOPPABLE!


“Knowing who you are will help you when it’s time to fight. Fight for the job you want, fight for the people who matter most to you, and fight for the kind of world you want. live… ”


I would like to share some words of wisdom and encouragement that I have found over the years that have been the foundation of my success.

First, I would like to talk about hard work:

  • In my father’s words, “hard work hides a lot of mistakes.”
  • And then the inspiration for Governor Branstad’s inauguration speech in 2011: He was talking about his luck and shared his father’s quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Perspective is also important:

  • You only go around life once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
  • When your troubles are in the barn, you’re out of trouble. When I have a bad day at work and come home to a healthy family, it really was a good day.
  • Don’t waste time milking dead cows – know when to move on.
  • The difference between winners and wannabes is very small – Winners do more of the little things that make a difference.

On the management side:

  • Numbers don’t lie, but liars know how to understand.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. But if you’re not going to manage it, don’t waste your efforts measuring it.
  • We all know the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. But I like the platinum rule better, which states: Treat others the way they want to be treated.

My father says you are truly blessed if you have your faith, your family and a handful of friends:

  • The Serenity Prayer got me through many difficult times: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Good people have bad days and bad people have good days – don’t overreact to either – That good person is always good and the bad person is always bad.
  • As you begin this next chapter of your life, consider Dr. Kent Keith’s paradoxical commandments as they are written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s bedroom in Calcutta:
  1. People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
  2. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be nice anyway.
  3. If you succeed, you will win faithless friends and real enemies. Succeed anyway.
  4. If you are honest and sincere, people can deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
  5. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
  6. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  7. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do it anyway.
  8. Give the best of yourself and it will never be enough. Do your best anyway.

Because in the final analysis, it’s between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Graduates, knowing who you are will help you when it’s time to fight. Fight for the job you want, fight for the people who matter most to you, and fight for the kind of world you want to live in. Knowing who you are will help when people say it’s impossible or that you can’t do it. If you seize unexpected opportunities when they arise, know yourself, and fight for what you believe in, I can promise you that you will live a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Indian Hills Class of 2022 – Congratulations: Go ahead and be awesome! Thank you!

About Michael C. Lovelace

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