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Lessons To Learn From Matt Damon’s commencement speech at MIT

Matt Damon is a famous Hollywood actor/fimmaker who is known for some of the prominent roles including portrayal of Jason Bourne. Matt wrote famous film Good Will Hunting and played a cameo in the same which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. His other popular film from recent times is: The Martian.

He have delivered a very thoughtful commencement speech at MIT recently.

Official Video : Matt Damon’s Commencement Speech at MIT


The commencement speech is worth watching. It is inspirational yet realistic.

He sets up mood by engaging the students and audience in some off topic formal talks. And while he talk about current political situations in USA and UK, he cleverly said the following:

Look, I’m not running for any kind of office. I can say … pretty much whatever I want.

He then goes ahead and shared his own experience with study, school and some stuff about his parents and siblings. He also talk about his film Good Will Hunting; and it’s relation with MIT. The conversation is not extra-ordinary, but simple yet effective.

He then talks about something hypothetical or philosophical. His thoughts about Simulation Theory by a professor, remind you some movies like Inception and The Matrix series. He talks about possible other planets to have even super intelligent species and their possible involvement in the current world. It looks fantasy stuff, at the same time, it seems possible also. Doesn’t the Hindi theory of Gods revolve around something like this? He brilliantly summarizes that:

What we do matters. What we do affects the outcome.

You’ve got to go out and do really interesting things.

Well, it is absolutely right. There can be many possibilities for anything, including good and bad. It is us who have to chose our steps and more importantly we need to act. That is the only we can control / contribute towards the future.

He then quotes a phrase by a famous person Turn toward the problems you see.
Which is true at all aspects. And he adds the following to that:

And don’t just turn toward them. Engage with them. Walk right up to them, look them in the eye … then look yourself in the eye and decide what you’re going to do about them.

Right, the journey to the Moon or the Mars can also be start with a single step. So just day dreaming or thinking about some abstract plans, it is better to remain on ground, check reality and tackle the problems one by one. There are number of problems, but there are number of solutions too, which can overcome the problems gradually. The important thing is to face the problem and try solving it. And to face the problem, he says:

There’s just no substitute for actually going and seeing things.

He mentions, that despite of so much problem we made, clean drinking water, is still a luxury for many on Earth. But where there is a tricky situation, there is a HOPE too. Hope to overcome circumstances one day, hope to get rid of the problem(s), hope to have a better future. In Matt’s words:

Clean water — something as basic as that — had given this child the chance to dream.

He also mention about water.org; which is working in the area of making clean drinking water available to all.

He then shares his experience of visiting a border town in Africa. The problems faced by the refugees, as mentioned by him, are scary and heartbreaking. At the same time he says:

You see some tough things out there. But you also see life- changing joy. And it all changes you.

Our instincts makes us to become stronger and fight back pretty much harder, sometimes even in unexpected manner. Because, we know that every night ends in a beautiful day. And that is Hope. It can do marvel. The other quality we desperately require, to become a human being is to have feelings and emotions towards our fellow humans. If you land a hand with feelings, you will see something great as the response.

Human beings will take your breath away. They will teach you a lot… but you have to engage.

You might have known about blindspot. When you drive a car, there remains a blind spot, where you have to drive with your judgement only. Same is applicable to our eyesight. There are some blind spots, where the things are placed but we cannot notice. And it happens in the life also. In terms of our approach to the problems also, we face blind spots.

The point is to try to eliminate your blind spots.

And, he goes on:

Looking at the world as it is, and engaging with it, is the first step toward finding our blind spots. And that’s when we can really start to understand ourselves better … and begin to solve some problems.

Then he talks about a very important lesson for everyone. Especially for those, who always got what they wanted; and got the attention they have wanted. In real life, the Failure is inevitable. If you cannot digest your failure, you cannot learn from it to be even better and overcome your shortcomings.

You’re going to fail sometimes, and that’s a good thing.

It is a trend these days to tell people that everyone is a special one and so. While it is true that everyone is unique in a way, we must understand the heart of the saying in broad meaning. It doesn’t mean that you should be treated specially always. So just remember, whoever you are, you need to draw your path, and especially walk on to it. You loved ones can prove fantastic guides and even your fellow walkers on the path, but it is you, who need to walk on the path for you.

Don’t believe the hype that’s thrown at you. You don’t have all the answers. And you shouldn’t. And that’s fine.

No one knows everything and no one is perfect. And that is what it leads to new discoveries and even revolutions.

Not having an answer isn’t embarrassing. It’s an opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There is nothing wrong in accepting that you don’t know something specific and you are ready to learn. It is actually a good sign, showing your positive attitude towards life. Sometimes, the pride (false) of knowing everything (which is not correct) puts you in embarrassing situation and sometimes even in danger too. So feel free to ask when you don’t know. And try remembering it. Apply your intelligence and wisdom to move ahead.

Whatever you do, just keep listening. Even to people you don’t agree with at all.

This is basically a very good mantra of life. You have to be a good listener. It is comparatively easy to be a good orator but it is tougher to be a good listener. So what if you don’t agree with the view of the person, you need to develop a habit to listen to it. And even more important lesson comes now. There is nothing wrong in accepting other’s point of view, even when you thing you are right.

Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right.

In a light moment he associates it to be one of the reasons to have a happy married life, but it applies to every aspect of life. Be it friendship or anything, you don’t need to be stubborn. You have to be open minded. And you can sacrifice something negligible for the people whom you love more that your life, you care more than anything; right?

He then concludes his commencement address with the following lines:

I hope you’ll turn toward the problem of your choosing … Because you must.
I hope you’ll drop everything … Because you must And I hope you’ll solve it. Because you must.

Over to You:

Remember, this is not word to word transcription of Matt’s commencement speech, but our own vision and views for the same. Do let us know what else you find from the same via comments below. We will be happy to learn. And yes, do not forget to share this article with your loved ones if you found it helpful and inspirational.

Links to follow:

You can follow the below given links to access the actual speech.

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