Speaking of the "myths about success" that make even more difficult the challenge of deciding what to do with one's life, Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy addressed LDS Business College graduates May 9.
"With this in mind, let me tell you two things that matter and some other things that don't matter very much," Elder Howard said, addressing the college's 115th commencement service, which was held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. He addressed some 225 graduates, college faculty and staff, and parents and friends.
"First, there is no such thing as a right profession. Happiness and joy have nothing to do with whether or not you are admitted to medical school or law school or to an MBA program somewhere. Success does not depend upon your getting a glamorous job with a prestigious accounting firm or high tech company.
"Second, it isn't true that you must rise to the top of the organization, or be the CEO or the CFO in order to be happy or successful.
"Third, and this may come as a blow to some of you, happiness and success do not depend on whether or not you make a lot of money. It is foolish to plan to enter a profession or a career just because it reputedly pays well.
"Most of you will spend about 40 years of your lives working. If you work 40 hours a week, that's 2,000 hours per year and 80,000 hours in a lifetime. That's a long time to work at something you don't enjoy, no matter how much it pays."
Fourth, "Now here is another thing that doesn't matter. I hope saying this doesn't put me at odds with your advisers or your mothers or others who may have influenced you to graduate from college, but I believe that you don't absolutely need to know, right now, TODAY, what you are doing to do with the rest of your life in order to be happy."
Elder Howard then related how he came to be a lawyer after doing such things as selling shoes and encyclopedias, radio announcing, managing a soil testing laboratory for the Bureau of Reclamation, serving a mission, and going to college and majoring first in chemical engineering and then in political science.
"I have become aware of the fact that many people start out in one job and end up in another. I believe that is good and I believe it is healthy."
In speaking of two things that matter, Elder Howard spoke of "filling the measure of your creation," and quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 88:25. "So there is a purpose in your being here. You just have to discover it. There are some things which are so inextricably connected to that 'measure of your creation' that if you fail to pay attention to them you risk losing altogether the success and happiness we all seek. One of those things is persistent effort. Another one is integrity."
Continuing, Elder Howard said that the nice thing about effort is its ubiquity. "Anyone can persevere. Anyone can work hard. Perseverance and effort make the difference both in getting into a job or into a marriage and getting the most out of [each] one. Any wishful thinking to the contrary won't change things."
He counseled graduates to concern themselves with the morality of all they do. "You cannot afford to confine your gospel observance to the meetinghouse and conduct your professional lives according to the manner of the world. From my perspective I can assure you that this will be your greatest challenge and your most significant opportunity."
During the commencement exercises, college President Stephen K. Woodhouse presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Ben E. Banks, a 1976 graduate of the business college in marketing/management.
Today, Brother Banks is president of Intermountain Wood Products. He was recognized not only for his business leadership, but also for his inspirational example of helping his wife overcome bacterial meningitis while coping with his own health problems and serving in the Church.
He is the son of Elder Ben B. Banks of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Susan; they were present for the honor given their son. The younger Brother Banks' wife, Tamara, was present also.
In his brief remarks, President Woodhouse told graduates: "While you have learned about account balances and cash flows, we hope you have come to better understand the strength of your spiritual reserves and the revenue of service."
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