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Scott Kriens

Scott Kriens' CBE commencement address

  • June 14, 2009

Good morning. It is an honor to stand before you today and take part in this great celebration and acknowledgement to all of you for your accomplishments, and I’d like to thank Dean Swartz and President Qayoumi and the entire university for the opportunity to be with you all.

I tried to think of what I could offer in return, and I asked myself what I wished I could have known 30 years ago when I was in your shoes that would have been of most use to me in the times ahead. It will be a time of great opportunity for you all, and also a time of magnificent challenge. In fact, I believe the significance of anyone’s success in this life, and the satisfaction that success brings, will be directly proportional to the magnitude of the challenges they face. The harder we try, the more we risk, the sweeter the taste of our success, in whatever forms it takes for each of us.

So here’s the one thing I would like to say to you today, and my wish for you all as you take on those challenges – I wish for all of you to fully recognize, and harness, the power of your own intention. Collectively, we have over 4800 examples this year alone from this great university with proof of that power today, and each of you have a deeply personal example that I suspect is even more compelling – your own success, your degree, with your name on it.  Everyone here has set an intention to earn that degree, some no doubt more explicitly than others, and that intention has become a reality.

Think back to the first day of school, and all of the things that have happened since then to make this day possible. Were you aware of the plan for the years to come on that first day? Perhaps not. But here we are. I’m sure each path had twists and turns along the way that were impossible to predict, and no small amount of luck and apparent coincidence that made a difference, maybe even a big difference, in how you got here. But was it luck? Or coincidence? Or if it was, then how does one make luck happen?

Here is what I have come to believe – we can create our own coincidence, make luck happen if you prefer, and we can do so by having a clear picture in mind of the outcomes we seek. There is a force in this world, an energy that serves those best who can define their intentions with the greatest clarity, and it is a very real force in determining the course of a person’s life.

If this might seem a little mysterious, or at best blind faith, I hope this analogy will help. Think of life’s challenges as putting together a puzzle, and your diplomas today represent one example of a finished puzzle – except for one major difference compared to the puzzle as we might think of it. Life, as the puzzle in this analogy, comes without a box. We awake every day awash in a sea of puzzle pieces, most of which we don’t need and cannot use, so it is not as simple as knowing that every piece we see belongs to us. In fact, most don’t. So how do we know which ones are ours? Just like any other puzzle, we use the picture on the puzzle box top, and in real life we get to paint the picture on our box top for ourselves, as our vision, our intention for our lives.

All of us have all the pieces we need all around us, flowing by in the rivers of our experiences every day. But only by having a clear intention on that box top do we know which ones we need. The key, or the secret if it is one, is to sit down first and create that vision, just like you did when you set your intentions for arriving here today. That’s all. You don’t need to know how you will make it happen. You don’t have to know how many pieces you need, where they are, how to find them, anything!

That’s where the power of intention will do the work. You can trust you! You’ve proven that by being here today. Just create your crystal clear intention, and then get up every day, pay attention to the rivers you cross, and the pieces you need will flow by. Use the gifts you have developed thus far in your life, use the invaluable education you have earned here at this university, imagine that box top as clearly as if it already existed, and then set forth knowing that a force larger than any I know of will supply you with the pieces of your dreams that you will need.

I am excited for you all and the intentions you will have, and I wish you all the best.

Congratulations to each and every one of you, and thank you for having me here today.

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California State University, East Bay is the San Francisco East Bay Area's high-access public university of choice. CSUEB serves the region with campuses in Hayward and Concord, a professional development center in Oakland, and an innovative online campus. With an enrollment of more than 14,000, the University offers a nationally recognized freshman year experience, award-winning curriculum, personalized instruction, and expert faculty. Students choose from among more than 100 professionally focused fields of study for which the University confers bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as an Ed.D. in education. Named a "Best in the West" college, as well as a Best Business School, by the influential Princeton Review, Cal State East Bay is among the region's foremost producers of teachers, business professionals and entrepreneurs, public administrators, health professionals, literary and performing artists, and science and math graduates.

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