Despite dropping out of Harvard University after only three semesters, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates managed to carve out a pretty good life for himself with his tech company and his philanthropic pursuits.
But it’s clear that Gates thinks a lot about not graduating from college. Or, he at least carries with him a desire to have received life-affecting advice from a commencement speaker he never heard at a graduation ceremony he never attended.
In the third such speech of his own to college grads, Gates delivered five pieces of advice this weekend to students at Northern Arizona University.
The guidance seemed to demonstrate a more relaxed attitude about life and relationships from the famously hard-working Gates. Here’s a summary of what he had to say:
Life isn’t a one-act play: Despite the pressure to have everything figured out and to settle on a career, what you do tomorrow doesn’t have to be what you do forever.
You’re never too smart to be confused: Embrace what you don’t know, surround yourself with smart people to learn from and realize that even if you are done with school, education continues throughout life.
Gravitate toward work that solves an important problem: New industries and companies are emerging every day that will allow you to make a living and make a difference. When you spend your days doing something that solves a big problem, it energizes you to do your best work.
Don’t underestimate the power of friendship: The people you’ve sat next to in lectures or attended various activities with are not just classmates, they are your network. They are your future co-founders and colleagues, and a great future source of support, information, and advice.
You’re not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack: There is more to life than work. Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to.