We all, at some point in our lives, have been in a situation where we wished that we knew something in our early 20s. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is no different. Even the billionaire has certain regrets, and one of these is not realising that work was not everything in life.
A CNBC report reveals that while adressing students at the Northern Arizona University on their commencement ceremony, Gates shared five major life lessons that he wished he knew about at the time of his graduation. He began his speech by saying, “What does a college dropout know about graduation? Not much, personally, to be honest.” For the unversed, Gates dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft.
He further added that if he had indeed finished his college, there were five things he wishes he was told on his graduation day.
1. Your career decisions aren’t permanent
The first piece of advice that Gates has for fresh graduates is that career decisions aren’t permanent and often change. “You’re probably facing a lot of pressure right now to make the right decisions about your career,” he said and added, “It might feel like those decisions are permanent. They’re not.”
He also added that reevaluating goals is a ‘good thing’, and it is okay to do things differently from how you had originally imagined.
2. Never be afraid of learning new things
It’s okay if things don’t go your way. And it is imperative that you open yourself up to new experiences and learnings. Gates said that he believed he knew everything after dropping out of college. However, he gradually realised that “the first step to learning something new is leaning into what you don’t know, instead of focusing on what you do know.”
He told the students that there will be times when they come across a problem that they won’t be able to solve on their own. “When that happens, don’t panic. Take a breath. Force yourself to think things through. And then find smart people to learn from,” he said.
3. Help others
Gates is quite a philanthropist and is often making headliens for making an effort to give it back to the community. In his adress to the students as well, he emphasised on the importance of helping others. He encouraged the graduates to use their education and skills to improve the lives of others, and reminded them that they are living in times where they can ‘make a living by making a difference’.
He added, “When you spend your days doing something that solves a big problem, it energizes you to do your best work,” he said. “It forces you to be more creative, and it gives your life a stronger sense of purpose.”
4. Networking can get you places
Gates reminded students that the people they have graduated with are not just classmates, they are their network. And networking can surely get you places. “Your future co-founders and colleagues. Your best sources of support, information, and advice. The only thing more valuable than what you walk offstage with today is who you walk onstage with,” he said.
5. There is more to life than work
Finally, Gates noted that there is more to life than work and people must allow themselves to take a break if they need to. Gates recalled his early days as an entrepreneur and revealed how he used to keep track of employees and how late they stayed in office. However, he added that after becoming a dad, he realised that ‘there is more to life than work’ and that people must focus on building and nurturing relationships and celebrating their success.
“Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson,” he said and added, “Take time to nurture your relationships. To celebrate your successes. And to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too.”