Kirk Gibson began his commencement address to the 2017 Michigan State University graduates by reminiscing about his teammates on the 1978 Big Ten football championship team and quippped that now that he has earned his honorary degree from his alma mater, “at our next reunion, I’m going to make those guys start calling me Dr. Gibson.”
He tells the graduates “I don’t have a perfect formula for success, but I have seen things that successful people share - qualities that guide their conduct, work habits and relationships.
“No matter what you decide to do in life, do it the right way and be your best. Always do it with integrity.”
Gibson recalls Sparky Anderson (who he describes as a “great mentor”) saying “It’s not worth doing if you taint your accomplishment. From mentors like Sparky, I learned to slow down and listen. They help you change your future, mentors do.”
He advises the new Spartan alumni to “be tenacious and start living like the person you want to become. Remain humble, and always treat others with kindness and respect.
“I believe how vividly you can imagine something determines how real it can become. So to win your World Series, to achieve your greatest goals, you must be willing to change your own picture of who you are today.”
He recounts how one of his 1984 World Series home runs for the Tigers enabled him to get into the right frame of mind four years later to hit his famous 1988 World Series game one winning home run for the Dodgers.
“Form a vivid image of what you want to achieve and imprint that image in your mind by recalling and feeling the emotions of other great moments in your life. Positive thinking gives us control over what we let into our subconscious mind; it changes a negative into something good.
“After you leave here today, your own World Series can play out in a similar way. Set big, ambitious goals for yourself and be a team player.
“Everything you have learned here has prepared you for great challenges and opportunities to come. But tomorrow when the excitement of graduation is gone and you’re striking out on your own, will you be ready to write your own success story? Only you can answer that.
“A great university is known by the quality of its graduates. When you leave here today, you will carry Michigan State’s reputation with you. I hope you honor that, and I hope you do it proudly.
“The human mind has great power and potential. Work hard and push forward with unyielding energy as you pursue your dreams. Be bold. Never ever give up. If you believe you can, you will.
“You’ve invested a lot to arrive at this great day. But there’s still a lifetime ahead of you. You took a gamble to get here. But this is not Las Vegas. What happened here must not stay here. Go share it with the world! You are Spartans; I believe you will.”
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