Romer: Unsolicited advice to graduates |

Romer: Unsolicited advice to graduates

It is that time of year again as our high school seniors prepare to finish their primary school educations and move into the workforce or onto college or trade school. No one asked for my opinion or guidance, and it is generally viewed as impolite to offer unsolicited advice — but sometimes rules are made to be broken. With that, here’s my annual advice to graduates as you move on to your next adventure:

  • Take responsibility for your actions, even if the outcomes are not your fault.
  • Practice an uncomfortable level of honesty.
  • Develop a certain amount of comfort with being disliked.
  • But not too much comfort.
  • Be curious, test out a wide variety of opinions.
  • Always be willing to change your mind when shown new evidence.
  • Also, get comfortable simply not knowing certain things.
  • Always admit when you are wrong.
  • And always give others the credit when you are right.
  • Get good at apologizing.
  • Get good at forgiving, too.
  • Exercise at least a little bit, every day.
  • When you think something nice about someone, let them know.
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food — use it to nourish, not numb.
  • If nothing seems to be working, sleep. You probably need it. 
  • Don’t blame others for your problems.
  • Don’t blame yourself too much, either.
  • Never complain. Ever. It solves nothing and only makes a bad feeling worse.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of generosity.
  • Don’t make assumptions about people. You don’t know who they are or where they come from. 
  • Similarly, don’t take other people’s assumptions about you personally. They don’t know you. 
  • In all things: consistency over intensity.
  • Define what success means for yourself.
  • Then, never stop questioning that definition.
  • Don’t associate with people who make you a worse person.  
  • Try to make everyone you associate with a better person. 
  • Be ruthless about the previous two rules. 
  • When stuck on a decision, ask yourself, “What will I regret not doing?” Then do that. 
  • Don’t borrow trouble — you’ll find enough along the way, don’t waste time and energy creating it in your head.
  • You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.
  • Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s recognizing the fear and choosing to go forward anyway. 
  • Caring and serving is the new way to lead. 
  • Being accessible 24/7 is unnatural. 
  • People don’t always talk nicely to you or about you. It’s up to you how you respond to criticism.
  • Once you stop trying to be right about everything, you’ll find the freedom and beauty in being wrong.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Changing the world starts with raising your children well. Thank your parents for their efforts.
  • Be nice and kind and the world will try to be nice and kind back.
  • Just because someone hurt you, it doesn’t mean you have the right to hurt someone else.
  • Being nice to yourself makes everything easier.
  • Traditions are just peer pressure from the past.
  • Try not to mess up the planet any more than we already have. 

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at

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