WASHINGTON Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday bestowed some advice to New York University's 2014 graduating class.
Here are six life lessons she offered to graduates as they embark on the next phase of their lives:
1.) Be curious. Dare to allow your curiosity to take you to new heights even if others may mock you. She cited NYU graduate Eric Kandel, who did just that. Kandel was deserted by his collaborator after deciding he was going to study the brains of California sea slugs, because many doubted how a sea slug could be relevant to understand human memory. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in 2000. "Kandel's life, I believe, demonstrates how a persistent curiosity can help us reach ambitious goals, even with great roadblocks in the way."
2.) Listen to others. Demonstrate humility and a willingness to listen to others carefully. "Listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs. It forces us to recognize with humility, that we don't have a monopoly on the truth."
3.) Accept failure is going to happen. You are going to make mistakes. Yellen said she and Fed officials struggled to find the right answers during the 2008 financial crisis. But even though not everything worked as they wanted it to, they never gave up until they found the right solution. "Finding the right path in life, more often than not, involves some missteps."
4.) Commit to your goals. While success is determined in part by ability, what will really count is "grit." There will be crucial times when you must be courageous, and you will have to stand up for what you believe in. Yellen referenced her predecessor Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as having demonstrated that kind of courage during the financial crisis. "He faced relentless criticism, personal threats, and the certainty that history would judge him harshly if he was wrong. But he stood up for what he believed was right and necessary."
5.) Find your passion. Building a life is hard work, but it's made easier when you are passionate about your pursuits. Yellen entered the Fed 37 years ago struck by the passion of her colleagues to fulfill the central bank's duties effectively, and offered this simple advice: "If there is a job that you feel passionate about, do what you can to pursue that job; if there is a purpose about which you are passionate, dedicate yourself to that purpose."
6.) Don't forget to laugh. There will be bumps in the road in the future, serious decisions to be made, but "take the time to savor the joys, large and small that come along the way. Share those joys with others, and share a laugh when you can."