Sally Yates, still our hero, turns her firing into an important lesson for graduates during a commencement speech
As acting U.S. attorney general, Sally Yates inspired us all by courageously refusing to enforce the Trump Administration’s immigration ban. She recently inspired us even more with a moving commencement speech for Harvard Law School graduates.
In her talk, Yates spoke about her own career path, encouraging young people to move past their mistakes. She also talked about the vital role of social justice and sticking up for what is right. And her speech couldn’t have come at a better time. We need people who are fighting for justice now more than ever. Here are a few of our favorite Sally Yates pearls of wisdom.
Don’t get down when you screw up.
You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to have mediocre moments and some outright blunders. You’re going to be disappointed in your performance. While I’m not suggesting that is something to aspire to, give yourself the space for that, to learn from it, and not be limited by it.
Be prepared to act quickly when needed.
The defining moments in our lives often don’t come with advance warning. They can arise in scenarios we would have never expected, and don’t come with the luxury of a lot of time for you to go inside yourself for some serious introspection.
Everything impacts our moral compass.
The compass that is inside all of us, that compass that guides us in times of challenge, is being built every day with every experience. I was fortunate to have learned from some inspiring people in my life who not only served as role models, but who challenged my thinking on issues and molded my core.
Doing nothing is a decision, and it’s often one you will regret.
While I’m not advocating being reckless or irresponsible, from my perspective, to fully embrace both life and being a lawyer, you have to be willing to take a risk. To be uncomfortable. To be bold. But taking a risk means that you also have to be willing to be wrong. And sometimes that can be a lonely place to be. But I hope that fear of being wrong won’t keep you from acting. Because inaction, doing nothing, or just going along, that’s a decision, too. In my experience, it’s been the times that I haven’t acted rather than when I did that I’ve regretted it the most.
Check out the whole speech:
We’d vote for a Sally Yates ticket any day!