For well over 200 years the United States Military Academy at West Point, an institution filled w tradition of excellence and achievement, has observed a curious tradition on graduation day. Every year the last ranking cadet to make it through to graduation is anointed the goat. showered with praise, given a dollar from every other fellow graduate amounting to roughly one thousand dollars, and granted the biggest applause at the graduation ceremony.
Some has called it the most prestigious last place award. It may sound like an odd endorsement of underachievement, but it is actually quite the opposite. On a day when people at the top typically gets the most recognition, West Point also recognizes those who just barely survived, usually because they stubbornly refused to give up.
Its an honored tradition because it says something about the human spirit. No matter where we are now, we can pass the labels others give us, we can improve, grow, progress, and come out just fine. In fact, its worth noting that historically West Point Goats have gone on to become successful in their chosen fields, some even to great acclaim.
Life is a long walk in a long road, and sometimes those who have early success fissile out and fade away, while those who seem to be at the bottom find the strength and determination to rise above their challenges. indeed, ranking systems have often proven to be poor indicators of future success. in all areas of life some graduate high, some low, and some in between.
but what makes a difference in life is how we choose to respond to our set backs and our successes.
A graduation, a promotion, an award or recognition, even a label should not be the end point or conclusion to a life, but an opportunity and motivation to keep trying. Remember whether we are doing great at the top or we are the Goat at the bottom, what matters is what we choose to do with the rest of our lives.
Exert from the Music & the Spoken Word