This is a fantastic commencement speech, by Manoj Night Shyamalan, for Drexel University’s Class of 2018.
The speech has all the hallmarks of what you’d expect from a Shyamalan movie – a superb opening where he offers 2 versions/dimensions of his life, after which he goes on to narrate a personal story involving his daughter on a day that he considers his lowest point in life, with a brilliant life lesson, “You just have to trust there is a picture” (you will understand the context when you watch the speech!).
He then moves to Greek philosopher Epictetus and his theory on what we can control and what the universe controls, and the need to focus on the former and not on the latter.
There are 3 wonderful anecdotes too, that expand on the same line of thought – one featuring a world-famous director, another featuring a world-famous band and the third featuring Shyamalan himself!
In all, this is a superb speech, and riffs on a very familiar theory among Indians, from Bhagavad Gita – “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana”, or “You have every right to work but not expecting fruits out of it”. In Shyamalan’s version, he frames it using Epictetus’ philosophy of focusing on things we can control (our work) and not what the universe controls (the fruits of our work).
The speech and the lessons in it seems especially convincing because it comes from a man who had risen and fallen spectacularly, and then risen again!