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Speech by Peter Legge

Thank you Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, platform guests, and this afternoon’s graduates of this fine university – Royal Roads University.

Thank you all so much for presenting me with this Honorary Degree today. It is a rare privilege indeed, and I am so appreciative of this recognition of the things I have done for my Province and Country.

If you study Hebrew, here’s what it says about success:

“It is the ability to make wise decisions”
That’s it! Wise decisions.

It was my father’s wise decision that brought me to British Columbia where I have found great success. You see, he’d fought in the Second World War and decided afterwards that his future lay elsewhere.

He turned to my mother and asked, “Where should we go?” She looked at him and said:

“You’ve been around the world seven times, and the place you stopped the most was Vancouver, and the ship you travelled on was also named Vancouver City, so let’s move there!”

That was a wise decision!

But my father’s idea of success had seven principles. He sat me down at 11 years of age, and listed them for me.

  1. Be resourceful, inventive and creative.
  2. Carefully choose the five people you spend the most time with.
  3. Live every day with passion, positive attitude and emotion. Never waste a day.
  4. I won’t be with you always, so seek out mentors who will teach you, encourage you and guide you.
  5. Serve the community. Give back to the community infinitely more than you take out.
  6. Set big goals.
  7. Guard your integrity.

Finally, he liked to quote Sir Winston Churchill, when he famously said:

“It’s not enough that we do our best, sometimes we have to do what’s required.”

Now at age 11, it was hard to understand the value of this sage advice, but as I watched my father’s life unfold, it became clear to me that this was indeed very wise advice. But there’s a lot more to being successful than seven principles and a juicy quote.

Choosing Royal Roads University is also a pretty important step. I know that my daughter did that some years ago and I know her success today is closely connected to her time at Royal Roads University.

If we unpack these seven principles passed down from my father, I think we can find other successful people who also marshal a similar wisdom.

1. Be resourceful, creative and inventive.

“The world needs men that have the courage to act on their own initiative. Moreover, men of this type write their own price tag and the world willingly pays it. The world willingly rewards men of initiative.”
- Andrew Carnegie

“Do what you do so well that
When other people see what
It is that you do they will
Want to see you do it again
And they will bring others
With them to show them
What it is that you do.”
- Walt Disney

2. Carefully choose the five people you spend the most time with.

Jean-Paul Sartre once said:

“What is not possible is not to choose.”

The five people you spend the most time with influence you more than you might imagine. In fact, your income is the average of those five people.

3. Live every day with passion, positive attitude and emotion – never waste a day.

The importance of a day can never be overstated. On January 15th it was my middle daughter’s birthday and I hadn’t talked to her all day. By the time I got home, it was 7 p.m. I phoned her on my cell phone and said, “Happy birthday, sweetie.” She said, “It’s about time you phoned! If you hadn’t phoned by midnight, you would have been in deep trouble.” I sensed she was at a restaurant and I said, “Where are you and who are you with?” “I’m at a restaurant in downtown Vancouver,” which is about 40 minutes from where I live, “and your two other daughters are here along with the gang.” And then she said, “Why don’t you join us?” And what did I say? “It’s late, I’m tired, I just got home from work, I’m in my jeans, running shoes and sweatshirt.” And then I heard myself and I thought, I need to make a different decision. So I made some kind of excuse, hung up the phone, dashed upstairs, jumped in the shower (took my clothes off first), scrubbed up pretty good, drove the 40 minutes to the restaurant and walked in and we had the BEST birthday party ever…. (I picked up the tab.) You’d expect me to do that! On the way home from the restaurant, I thought, that’s a very good decision, Peter, because if you’re really lucky, you might only be asked to do that 20 more times.

  • So don’t waste a day, and celebrate all major milestones.
  • Your attitude determines your altitude.
  • Research says: 15% of the reason you will be successful is your technical skills.
  • 85% of the reason you will be successful is your people skills. The ability to get along. To be real – to be you. To have a positive attitude.
  • I once heard, “Be who you is, cause if you ain’t who you is, then you is who you ain’t.”
  • It costs to have a negative attitude.
  • Attitude is a choice.

Speaking in St. Louis, Missouri, I met a man who shined shoes for a living. His name was S-H-E-D. I asked him, “Is that your real name, or is that your nickname?” He said, “No, my name is Shed, my mama named me Shed…that’s my name!” I noticed he had a stethoscope around his neck. I said, “What’s that for?” He said, “I is the doctor of shoes, and I ain’t lost a patient in 37 years. In fact, some people call me the saviour of souls.” And then I noticed a sign on his shoe sign stand that said, “Shoe Shine $2, Shoe Shine $6.” I said, “What’s the difference?” He said, “If you’ve got a good attitude, I charges you $2, but if you got a bad attitude, I charges you $6, cuz it costs to have a bad attitude.”

4. Seek out mentors.

As my father said to me, find people of wisdom who are far more successful than you – who will teach you, guide you, encourage you, hold you accountable.

Take the very best of their habits and strategies and apply them to your own life and business.

I’ve been blessed with three mentors in my life.

  • Ray Addington – President of Kelly Douglas, who taught me the importance of following through.
  • Mel Cooper – President and owner of CFAX Radio right here in Victoria, who taught me how to be creative and say thank you.
  • Joe Segal – President of Kingswood Capital, who taught me the importance of how critical your “word” is.

5. Serve the community.

Give back to the community more than you take out.

It’s all part of the universal law of sowing and reaping.
Sow nothing, reap nothing.

If you plant temporary things,
You will harvest temporary things

If you plant generosity,
You are going to harvest generosity.

If you give grace and compassion,
You will receive grace and compassion.

Whatever you give out in life,
You’re going to get it back.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need to have a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

6. Have big goals.

If you’re going to dream, dream big. Don’t just think outside the box, throw the box away. Less than one-half of 1% of business leaders have goals.

You can walk up and down Main Street of Victoria and ask almost anyone, “Do you have any goals?” Most will say no, others will say yes, I want to be rich and happy, and then ask them have they any idea how to get there? And they will say no.

Goals must be balanced. It’s not all about money, it’s about career, health, family, spiritual and educational goals just like you have done today. You have completed one of the most important goals, your ongoing education.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the late president of Morehouse College near Atlanta, said:

Let it be borne in life that the tragedy in life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in having no goals to reach for. It is not a calamity to die with dreams of life unfulfilled, but it is a calamity to have no dreams and no purpose. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideals, but it is a disaster to have no ideals to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach.

7. Guard your integrity.

Above all the most important principle of success is integrity. I’ve left this to last because it is the most important.

And demand complete integrity and ethical behaviour.

American author John Maxwell said:

“There is no such thing as
business ethics… it is all ethics.”

When you have integrity and all the other values such as honesty, loyalty, team appreciation, and shared values, you will then find that people trust you and will want to do business with you.

DO NOT compromise on Integrity! It takes 25 years to build a reputation but just five minutes to destroy it. Guard your reputation. In reality, it’s almost all you have.

"A reputation once broken
May possibly be repaired, but
The world will always keep their eyes
on the spot where the crack was"
- Joseph Hall

(Taken from a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta supported by Mother Teresa.)

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight

People really need help but may attack you if you help them

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth

Take these seven principles and all the principles you’ve learned here at Royal Roads University and apply them to your lives, careers, your families, and your community and you will discover that this wisdom will move you from success to significance.

Thank you.