Recently, CCTV’s “Youth Lecture” invited Dong Yuhui to deliver a speech at the Communication University of China. From studying to career choices, from peaks to valleys, and from confusion to determination, Dong Yuhui’s speech was highly engaging and full of highlights.
Here is the full text of the speech for your reference.
The Growing Pains in Life
Dear students, hello, I am Dong Yuhui, and I am delighted to be at the Communication University of China today.
As the saying goes, “April’s flowers fade away, but the mountain temple’s peach blossoms begin to bloom.” Different places have different sceneries, and so does life.
I am 30 years old this year, and there may be some age difference between us. However, as I look back on my past, I hope that the life stories I share today can provide some help to you. If not, I hope you can take away a bit of happiness.
I attended a foreign language university in Xi’an. In our class of 32 students, there were only two male students, with the other one often on leave due to poor health.
During class, the teacher would look around the room and see me hiding in the corner. The teacher would then ask,
“Guess which male student I will invite to answer the question next?”
The teacher’s choice of words, “invite which male student to answer the question,” made me realize that the other male student was absent again.
I nervously stood up and answered the English question, stammering due to my nervousness. The more nervous I became, the more I stumbled and wanted to speak faster. One day, the teacher comforted me, saying, “Dong Yuhui, you can speak Mandarin; try not to use dialect.”
In reality, I was answering the question in English, so my early college experience was quite painful.
I was born in a rural family, and children from small towns or cities may understand my feelings better. Growing up competitive, I couldn’t accept that I couldn’t answer the teacher’s questions in class, which made me anxious and nervous.
Every time the teacher asked a question, I would feel ashamed because as soon as I finished speaking, the whole class would burst into laughter.
The teacher commented, “Dong Yuhui, I can clearly hear where you’re from in your English.” This was embarrassing and hard to endure, as external voices can greatly change you.
Never forget the many growing pains in your life
Years later, as a teacher, I often told my students that pain and anxiety were normal. Pain stems from dissatisfaction with the status quo, and anxiety comes from the slow pace of growth.
Unhappy people are more likely to achieve greatness. Although we are all still on our journey, please believe that unhappy poets will write poems that will be remembered for a thousand years, and unhappy writers will create well-received works.
If you feel unhappy at times, tell yourself that you will become a talented person. That’s how I tricked myself back then.
So, I practiced English every day, sometimes feeling discouraged. I wondered why my English had such a heavy accent, and even now, my Mandarin is not very standard.
But I later realized it didn’t matter because English spoken worldwide has its accents. In Australia, people speak like kangaroos; in the UK, accents differ between the north and south, east and west.
Everyone has their way of speaking. The key is to express your thoughts clearly, fluently, and accurately.
Once I understood this, I became more comfortable and gradually got into the groove. Looking back, that period was quite interesting. As I practiced, I eventually became able to express myself fluently and coherently
The Power of One’s Resolve
Determines How Far They Can Ultimately Go
Many students may have experienced a situation like this: after over a year of practice, they finally got an opportunity and were recognized.
Moving forward, even if you remain unknown, as long as you stay focused, keep reminding yourself that what you are doing is right. This is the power of one’s resolve.
A person’s resolve ultimately determines how far they can go, and it has little to do with intelligence. In fact, exceptionally intelligent people always calculate the input-output ratio, and once they find out that the efficiency is low, they immediately withdraw.
In the growth process of a person, a company, or an organization, whenever difficulties are encountered, the smartest ones are often the first to leave. Like a fool like me, I don’t even realize that everyone has already left. Therefore, it is often not the smart ones who persevere to the end.
Intelligence is often the enemy of wisdom. Remember this: resolve is essential; don’t overthink.
After I had practiced English for a long time, I had a chance to attend an oral English class, where the teacher asked me to answer a question. (Once again, everyone guessed which male student the teacher would invite to answer the question. I looked around, and that brother was absent again. However, the teacher began to remember me during that opportunity.)
After I answered, the teacher said, “I didn’t expect your spoken English to be quite good.”
I suddenly felt that my efforts were seen, although they were so small that they were hardly worth mentioning.
Please remember that many small changes begin at that moment. It’s like a turning point in life’s curve, and you don’t know which point played a decisive role. But when you press that point hard, your future experiences will tell you that your judgment at that time was correct.
After class, the teacher asked me if I could help be a tour guide for a visiting friend from abroad, as they didn’t have time to show them around Xi’an. I gladly agreed.
That day, I took the guest to various attractions in Xi’an, such as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Huaqing Pool. I was very excited and took him to the base of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to see the statue of the Tang Monk.
The Tang Monk wasn’t sent away by the emperor back then; he secretly left with a great mission and religious-like passion, knowing that he might not return. When he finally returned, I imagined the excitement and joy in his heart as he gazed at the Chang’an city from afar.
I imagined how magnificent he must have felt when he sat in the Ci’en Temple during his later years, surrounded by falling ginkgo leaves, morning bells, and evening drums, teaching his disciples and grandchildren about the scriptures.
I remember that night, as I looked at the statue of the Tang Monk, I spontaneously asked the foreign guest, “Do you want to understand this sense of mission?” Then I thought of Bertrand Russell, and said:
This quote is from a speech by Russell called “What I Have Lived For.” The meaning is: the longing for love, the pursuit of knowledge, and an overwhelming compassion for the suffering of mankind—these three simple yet intense passions have controlled my life.
Why do we read? In fact, the ancients have given a very accurate answer: the desire for love, the pursuit of knowledge, and the compassion for the suffering of mankind.
The Impactful Work is the Valuable Work
After graduating from university, I started job hunting. The first company I found was an automobile enterprise, and the second was a watch enterprise, both of which were quite good. So, after interviewing with both, I found myself torn between the two options.
During this particularly conflicted time, I went back to my hometown and sought advice from my father.
One sunny afternoon, as he was hoeing the fields, I said, “Dad, I’ve found a job, but I don’t know which one to choose.” I rambled on about how great the watch company was and how even better the automobile company was since men tend to enjoy things that extend power. “You know what I mean? Speed, speed.”
I asked what value meant, and he said that work that impacts people is valuable work.
Many years later, I realized that my father had actually read that quote from a book. It was a saying by an ancient Greek philosopher who believed that man is the measure of all things.
In life, we are often influenced by a single sentence or event during critical moments.
In the simple mindset of a peasant, only actions that impact, change, and accomplish something for people have value. That biased but simple viewpoint influenced me, and I eventually became a teacher.
During my time as a teacher, I continued to push myself, always fearing that I wasn’t good enough. So, I tried every exercise I could access to improve.
At that time, I was teaching high school English, and I took the opportunity to practice every college entrance exam question from the past ten years. I became so familiar with them that I could instantly recall questions by their year and province.
With this attitude and intensity, in my second year of work, I became the youngest teaching research director in my workplace.
In the summer of 2018, a high school class was in session in a campus in Xi’an. Suddenly, a thunderstorm caused a power outage throughout the entire building. The neighboring sixth and third-grade students cheered, grabbed their bags, and ran out.
After a few seconds of cheering, I asked the high school students if they wanted to leave or continue studying. They chose to continue. I asked if they had cell phones, which they denied, but eventually, they took out their phones and turned on their flashlights.
In this way, we continued studying together in the dark classroom. At first, it was cool, but it got hotter and hotter. Despite this, I lectured for more than an hour.
Outside, the storm raged, but inside, the classroom was calm. Each student used their phone as a flashlight, illuminating the room.
That one hour was one of the few moments in my life where I was fully engaged, passionate, and generous, leaving a lasting impression on my heart. It was also a time when students were fully focused, actively interacting, and their writing seemed inspired.
After school that day, many students updated their social media, saying it was an unforgettable hour in their lives.
The point of this story is to emphasize that in a career, you should do what you believe is right, and seek out a sense of purpose and accomplishment. In the long run, the only reason that can drive you to continuously engage and refine your skills is love.
In Good Times, Be Proactive
In Bad Times, Read More
Last June, perhaps due to prolonged anxiety, my sleep quality worsened, and I often suffered from insomnia. I had borrowed all the money I could, and I felt that if I had no new income that month, I might not be able to take it anymore.
I don’t know if it was a joke from the heavens, but on the morning of June 8th, I sat in front of the camera with my small blackboard, talking nonsense. To my surprise, the number of viewers increased from 300 to 500 as I was talking.
This was unexpected, and I never thought people would actually be interested in what I was saying.
At that time, I was talking about Shakespeare. Seeing that the audience was enjoying it, I continued discussing literature and philosophy, from Socrates to Plato, Aristotle, and the three great Greek philosophers.
To my amazement, the audience did not seem to mind, and the number of viewers increased from 500 to 1,000. I kept talking about the literary works I was familiar with and the history I had read before.
The more I talked, the more excited I became. That morning, the number of viewers grew from a few hundred to nearly 10,000 by the time I finished my live stream. I was exhilarated like never before, and it took a long time for my emotions to settle down.
The next day, when I went live again, I found even more viewers – 3,000 right from the start. By the time I finished streaming that day, the number had reached 30,000.
What does 30,000 viewers mean? It was like a dream, unimaginable. Soon, I began to attract more and more attention, and an increasing number of people flooded into my live room, where they could listen to seemingly useless knowledge.
This was my lucky break. Time and time again, it has been proven that luck favors those who are always prepared. Knowledge is your weapon, and books are your friends forever. If I could offer you some advice, I would like to condense it into keywords.
The first one is focus. With undivided attention, all things can be accomplished. Please believe this.
The second is diligence. If you put in efforts that are no less than those of anyone else, even the gods will bless you.
This quote is not mine, but from Inamori Kazuo, a Japanese management guru. Ordinary people can be poised and graceful, and don’t be afraid of those who are smarter than you, as smart people often run ahead.
The third is resilience or, in a northern dialect, being tough.
You will find that many people always talk about the shared qualities of successful individuals: they are not easily knocked down by difficulties. A popular term nowadays is “bluntness”: no matter how much you torment me, I will not give up. Being tough also means being optimistic.
Elon Musk once said, “It’s better to be wrongly optimistic than rightly pessimistic.”
If I were to add one last keyword, it would be the right intentions.
This is crucial.
You might not realize it at first, but one day, when you look back, you will find that the right intentions have been your blessing, your amulet. They will become your armor and your guiding light.
Humans are achievement-driven creatures. Once you realize you can do something well, you may be inclined to try the next challenge.
Seek out what you truly enjoy and let it guide your life’s goals. It is happiness and a sense of accomplishment that drive you along this path, not the burden of learning tasks. No one wants to suffer.
I particularly dislike the saying that many people wonder why someone can persevere for so many years. No one can endure such perseverance for years without a special reason; they are most likely enjoying the process.
Enduring hardship goes against human nature, and it is difficult to overcome one’s own nature. If you cannot adjust, either find something you enjoy or learn to enjoy what you do. I have some advice for your time in college:
First, read extensively. The most valuable place on any campus is undoubtedly the library. No matter how luxurious other buildings are, the library remains the most precious. You must believe that the wisdom accumulated by humans throughout history is useful, at least in the short term.
Second, engage in practical experiences. Without compromising your studies, explore your hobbies. During your college years, you should adapt to your environment at a comfortable pace.
Third, constantly remind yourself whether the work you are doing has a low entry barrier, is simple, and can be easily replicated or replaced.
These concerns should be understandable to everyone. In the workplace, you must hone your abilities and remind yourself that simple tasks that everyone can do are highly likely to be replaced.