In 2014, actor Jim Carrey delivered the commencement speech at the Maharishi University of Management. Given the performer’s reputation in comedy, the speech was no doubt hilarious and entertaining. But Jim Carrey is also deeply spiritual, and he delivers great lines of encouragement and inspiration. He has three main points in the foundation of his speech: self, fear, and choice.
The speech begins with a lot of jokes, true to Carrey’s personality. But right away you can tell that he is happy to be there because of his big smile and engagement with the audience. He then takes a slightly more serious tone when he begins discussing the concept of self.
“I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation, and though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, it was after all a loaner and would have to be returned.”
The second part of Carrey’s speech talks about fear. He says fear will about be a factor in life, but you get to decide how much. He tells a story about his father and how he could have been a great comedian but let fear get in the way. Instead, his father tried to be an accountant but ended up getting fired from his job. This is where Carrey lays down one of his best quotes from the speech, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.” Telling this story is impactful because many of us can relate to family members who have made sacrifices or have passed up opportunities out of fear of failure.
But Carrey says it is because of his father that he chose to become an actor. He then asked the audience what will their choice in life be. This brings him to his third point, which is filled with encouraging statements that look to the future.
“How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”
The speech concludes with a call-to-action: take every opportunity presented to you. Carrey tells the graduates that even if one door closes, there are always others opening and you just need to walk through. He also delivers another great line about faith.
“Why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith, not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope; hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire, and faith leaps over it.”
I think Jim Carrey’s commencement speech is empowering, inspirational, and entertaining. Carrey does not lose eye contact with his audience and never misses an opportunity to deliver a great joke. But this speech is filled with inspiring statements and his overall tone is optimistic. He speaks from the heart, but also shows a deep understanding of the teachings that the Maharishi University practices. I recommend reading the transcript and look at how well he flows from one point to the next. If you are working towards creating an inspirational presentation, this is a strong example to study.
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