I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren't fun, but they are inevitable. More importantly, failures don't have to define who you are —Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had a message Saturday for Jacksonville University graduates: Get a life.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee told the nearly 900 students earning degrees that life isn't measured in riches and professional achievement, but in friendships and family, learning and work, faith in God and service to others.
"Get a life, have a life, live your life in full. Embrace every fruitful dimension of life that you possibly can," Romney said during the 22 minute commencement address delivered under overcast skies and sprawling oak trees.
In a speech that focused on life and not politics, Romney told the students to continue to learn and grow, and to even expect failures.
"I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren't fun, but they are inevitable. More importantly, failures don't have to define who you are," Romney said.
Some people measure success by how far they've climbed the corporate ladder or whether they've achieved more professionally than their classmates, Romney said. But that's the wrong approach.
"If your life is lived for money and position, it will be a shallow and unfulfilling. The real wealth in life is in your friendships, your marriage, your children, what you have learned in your work, what you have overcome, your relationship with God, and in what you have contributed to others," Romney said.
He told the story of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, who built a billion dollar chain, bought the Detroit Tigers and won a World Series and drove a Bugatti he bought for $8.4 million. Monaghan then gave up nearly all his riches, donating them to Catholic causes and founding Ave Maria University.
"I asked him a few weeks ago, 'What was the most rewarding part of your life? Winning the World Series? Building Domino's? Driving that Bugatti?'" Romney said. "You can guess his answer: 'It wasn't the toys,' he said. 'I've had enough toys to know how important they aren't. It was giving back through the university.'"
Romney added, "Living life in fullness includes serving others and doing it without pride or personal gain. It will fill your heart and expand your mind."
He ended the speech by pleading with the students to stay engaged in the world around them, saying the nation faces daunting challenges like generational poverty, debt and a warming climate. He said the world is increasingly a dangerous and tumultuous place.
"Washington appears inept and powerless and without an effective strategy to overcome any of these. America needs your passion, your impatience, your participation in the political discourse," Romney said.
"And for the sake of preserving freedom, vote," Romney said. "Please vote."
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