Adichie Chimamanda offers great advice during her Class Day speech at Yale.
The Nigerian novelist shared great life advice while delivering her speech at Yale Class Day.
Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joined the exclusive List of Class Day speakers at Yale University at New Haven, Connecticut on Sunday, May 19, 2019.
This list includes former US First Lady and 2016 Presidential Candidate, Hillary Clinton, the former Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden and Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.
During her speech, Adichie, who got her master of arts in African studies from Yale in 2008, offered some great life advice to the 2019 graduating class.
Her insightful advice touched on many topics including career, leadership, confidence and power.
Here is Adichie’s guide to winning at life:
On having confidence
The renowned writer says, “Confidence is a journey, a continuous journey and not an absolute destination. There are days when you will be bursting with certainty and days when you will be flattened by doubts. It helps a little to keep in mind how universal this is.”
Adichie recommends always having an open mind.
“Be open to changing your mind. It is often a sign of growth. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. Marry being idealistic with being pragmatic,” she advises.
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Her advice is for people to get comfortable with sincere apologies. This advice comes with a caveat.
In her words, “Knowing how to say “I’m sorry” and mean “I’m sorry” will serve you well no matter what course your life takes. But… Do not ever apologize for existing..”
On dealing with power
Her advice - avoid getting power-drunk.
“If power were a jacket, it is most flattering on all body types when worn very lightly,” Adichie advises.
For the Nigerian novelist, local knowledge is better than newspapers and reports.
She says, ” Place a higher value on local knowledge. If your job involves travelling the world, remember that local knowledge is always best. Yes, read the country report by the CIA or whoever writes those reports, but place a higher value on local knowledge - local newspapers, literature, the person who picks you up from the airport.”
On corporate culture
She recommends being the change you want to see at work.
“If you’re one day enrobed in corporate power, please hire women as executives and not just in human relations. Change corporate culture. Have an on-site daycare. Make paid family leave standard and ordinary,” is her advice.
On living your very best life
In her words, “A self-righteous sneer is not an argument. Don’t be that person who attacks or demeans, because you are unable to convince. Nurture your ambitions, seek to be successful but keep in mind that there are hollows that success will not fill.
“Have friends, many friends or just one friend. Hold your family close, hold your friends close, stand up for your loved ones. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Tell them often. Find reasons to laugh. Gravitate towards people with whom you never feel that pressure to perform or to be what you’re not.
“One of the tenets I try to live by is: Never admire quietly. If I admire something about someone, I let them know. We do not always recognize what is beautiful in ourselves, in our spirits, until somebody has pointed it out to us. Be kind. Paying attention is one of the most beautiful acts of kindness. The people you will come across in your life, will not forget when you are kind, and they will not forget when you are unkind.”
Adichie recently got honoured as “one of the world’s most powerful voices in fiction” while receiving an honorary degree from the American University in Washington, DC.
On May 18, she received the doctor of humane letters, honoris causa degree from Georgetown University, also in Washington, DC.
She has been as named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people and Fortune
magazine’s 50 “World’s Greatest Leaders.”
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