No. 275

One of the greatest success stories in the annals of American business is a man by the name of Bill Gates. We know him as the founder and CEO of the Microsoft Corporation and one of, if not the richest man in the world, depending on whether the stock market is up or down. I could stop right there but it would be a great injustice if I did not go on to say that by all accounts he is also a fine human being. He has great family values and his charitable giving to many worthwhile causes is well documented.
A recent newsletter from our state press association contained an article about a speech Bill Gates made to an assembly of high school students. During this speech he talked candidly about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world. For anyone with kids of any age, what he had to say cuts to the very heart of what reality and true success is all about.
His advice came in the form of 11 rules, but before I share them with you I would just like to say that no one I know likes criticism. My former business partner, the late Bob Gannaway, used to criticize something I did or said once in a while. It hurt at the time but I always knew why he did it. It was because he loved me and wanted the best for me. Certainly I don’t know Bill Gates personally but I would bet my last nickel that he had the student’s best interests at heart when he said these things.
He begins: “Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it. Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. Rule 3: You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both. Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure. Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity. Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parent’s fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closets in your own room. Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time. Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”
As I read this it reminded me of the lady who got sea sick during a cruise. As the ship was tossing up and down she said, “I am nauseous” to which a man standing nearby replied, “Madam, you have finally uttered a great truth.” And so it goes. While Bill Gates may not have made any new friends the day he delivered these comments, at least he told the truth. So why not save and perhaps even laminate this column. The message here can make a wonderful difference for many young people. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)