Donovin Darius '98 Speech at School of Education Convocation


Donovin DariusDonovan Darius is a 1998 graduate from the Health and Exercise Science program and was a member of the Syracuse University football team. He was selected 25th overall in the 1998 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and played for them for nine years. He currently runs the Donovin Darius Foundation that focuses on the mental, physical, and emotional empowerment of families. Donovin also serves as a director of the NFL Legends Community and NFL Transitions Coach where he works with current and former players as they transition into and out of the NFL.

Donovin was 2017 School of Education Speaker, at the annual Convocation Ceremony on Saturday, May 13 at Manley Field House. A copy of his remarks to the graduates is below.


Congratulations to all!

Take a brave look at your life, look at your life right now. Let's take personal inventory. As you look at your life over the past 4 years what brought you here? As you look at the things that have taken place, what's happened?

Did you get out of it what you wanted? Did you achieve the goals that you set out to achieve? What things did you do that you don't want to be a part of your life moving forward?

As you look back, and think about where you want to go and what you want to do, are there any people that might be some deadweight that you need to think about unloading? Is there a relationship more toxic than it is nourishing, more debilitating then it is empowering? If so you have to make a decision.

Many of us may not be able to move forward because we're not taking personal inventory of our life.

As you begin to look at your emotional, intellectual and spiritual development how many books did you read, how many seminars did you attend, how much time outside of classes did you take to develop yourself professionally and to improve in your craft or your skill?

How many new things did you learn; just take some personal inventory? How have the things in your past influenced you right now? What are your personal values, beliefs, things that you feel very strongly about?

What are some of the things that you have picked up along the way and you have been going on for so long that you think that they are you? Maybe that you need to re-examine and get them out of your life?

You see a lot of things we do we're doing unconsciously because we picked them up somewhere in life.

What is it that you have picked up somewhere in life that may be a liability to you? What fear, what beliefs are you holding onto tenaciously that they no longer allow your life to work? It's not enabling you to move forward and you're still clamming to them?

You see as you go into a new year and graduate from Syracuse, let go of behaviors, mindsets and associations that just won't fit.

What are the events, what are the circumstances, what are the people that have shaped you? What are the things that you need to let go? Some things that have caused you pain? Things that are stifling your growth and development? What are those things?

As you begin to look at your next profession and career, what is it that you need to do to upgrade your skills, and your knowledge for you to continue and to be competitive in the marketplace?

As you begin to look at yourself, ask yourself some of these questions:

What is something that you're good at?
Are you living your passion, are you living your dream?
What do you regard is your greatest personal achievement?
What is the thing that people can do to make you most happy?
Ask yourself this question: What would you do if you have one year to live and guarantee success at anything you decided to do? What would that be?
What would you do with your life if you had it to live over?

Getting to know yourself

What is one value or one deep commitment that you would not deviate from? What is one cause that you would like to be involved in to make a difference in the planet and your community?

After I played 10 years in the NFL I decided to do two things, one I work as a motivational speaker traveling the world speaking, being a messenger of hope, and inspiration. Secondly, I started my own foundation for youth teenagers and parents developing them and life skills, while giving them a chance to succeed and start all over. It gives my life a great feel of joy and fulfillment.

Have you found something like that in your life? Something that you can work on, working to impact with people?

I have a friend who works with physically handicapped people and she said that this is been the most rewarding experience of her life she used to be a constantly depressed individual, always feeling sorry for herself it has changed her life. She's found herself that she has lost herself in.

“The greatest way to find your life is to lose it in the service of others."

What is your biggest setback, defeat or failure over the past 1 to 4 years? What is it about you, that if someone knew they wouldn't get into a relationship with you?

Now don't go tell it!! Acknowledge what it is and start working on it. Change it. It's easy to blame the other person. Start taking ownership for where you are.

James Allen said, “We are the masters of our soul, the makers and shapers of our circumstance, environment and destiny."

Are you proud of how you've been living your life? Have you explored your natural talents by enthusiastically trying a variety of activities?

So many people have so many talents and abilities that they just put them on the back burner, never did anything with them.

What are you sitting on, what gifts, talents and abilities are you sitting on? As you take the next step you are going to have to answer those questions. Have you resigned yourself to a life, feeling that nothing can be done to change your future or your circumstances?

Are you afraid to try something different because you're afraid of how people react to you, what they will say or what they will think?

Those are some of the things that I suggest that you begin to answer yourself.

Now, here are some things that I suggest that you begin to look at and to begin the work on and develop your character. Some things that will give you some personal strength.

Webster says, character, the pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group, self-discipline, fortitude, focus; that's what's going to be required in order to manifest your greatness.

Now looking at yourself, one of the things that I suggest you look at is: What is the thing that you need to be in the process of doing more of or less of: such as being more direct? Example: I used to be hesitant with conflict. I had a problem with telling people exactly how I really thought or felt, because I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings.

Saying no without feeling guilty

Being focused: I used to be the jack of all trades, but master of none. Then one year, I decided to do just one thing well. I looked at all my talents, and I decided my strongest one is my ability as a speaker. That's the one thing I am going to focus on. But I'm capable of doing a lot of other things. But only when I decided to focus on that, I began to reap the rewards of my talents.

Taking a good look at yourself

Find something that you can look at your life, and say, hey I know I have a problem in this area and I need to take care of that: being late, procrastinating, not taking care of business, not taking life seriously, not creating balance in my life, taking more time studying television and having social fun and not spending enough time working on me. Most people spend more time working on a job rather than working on themselves.

“Don't follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trai." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

We congratulate you! We celebrate you! We believe in you!