I’ve been teaching some classes on speech writing recently, so I paid attention to an address given at a graduation ceremony at this university today.
Jane Tomlinson has a story to tell. Since being diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has pushed herself to ever greater feats of physical endurance – and raised large sums of money for good causes. Last year she completed the Ironman triathlon in Florida, with the help of my colleague Ryan Bowd.
She received an honorary degree and addressed our graduands. Her speech began and ended with them. Their achievements, their aspirations, their sense of belonging to a community, their lives ahead of them. Only then did she talk about her personal struggles and achievements. It was very humbling.