I recently came across an article about Bill Gates. He was speaking before a group of high school students and providing them his eleven rules to live by. The rules are taken from the book “Dumbing Down our Kids” by educator Charles Sykes.
As seemingly intelligent as Gates is, I disagree with almost all of these rules. Below you will find the original statement from Bill Gates (BG) and my rebuttals to each one (JMS).
BG: Life is not fair — get used to it.
JMS: We know life is not fair, we don’t have to agree or disagree with this.
BG: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
JMS: Bullshit. First of all, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks about your self-esteem…that’s why it’s called SELF-esteem. The exact opposite of this statement is true, in order to be effective and successful, we must learn how to CONTROL OUR STATE: your mood; your feeling about yourself, WITHOUT the need for external forces such as approval or accomplishments. YES, these things help, but if you don’t feel good about yourself in the first place, then you will not act to your full potential: fact.
BG: You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.
JMS: I know plenty of people who make double and triple this amount right out of high school and/or without even going to college. And if you work hard enough and are talented enough you can start off with a pretty fat salary, if you choose to get a job.
BG: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
JMS: What if you get a cool boss? What if you start your own business and never even have a boss? Way to put fear and instill subordination into kids’ minds before they even graduate high school. How about some HOPE and MOTIVATION.
BG: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping they called it Opportunity.
JMS: Your grandparents also had a completely different universe that they grew up in, there are a lot more dignified “opportunities” out there now. You just need the ambition and resourcefulness to find them, and you’ll see the options are ENDLESS. This isn’t 1952.
BG: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
JMS: Well, it might be your parents’ fault. But yes, I agree, any experience is useful as long as you learn from it.
BG: 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 closet in your own room.
JMS: So basically you’re saying that we, as kids, destroyed our parents’ lifestyle and we’re a burden on them. You’re also encouraging the diminution of big dreams by sticking to small stuff, like cleaning your closet. Weak Bill, weak.
BG: 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.
JMS: Sure I’d say it’s much less rare in “real life,” but don’t say it doesn’t apply to ANYTHING. How about instead of knocking kids down, you address the fact that, as you just said, the school system virtually does nothing to prepare kids for the “real world.”
BG: 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.
JMS: What if you work in a constructive atmosphere? People will absolutely help you grow because it helps their company grow as well. Not to mention if you run your own business you will have a wealth of people with similar interests who you can network with and grow together. And teachers get summers off, jackass.
BG: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
JMS: Maybe not people who have their own businesses and definitely not those with residual income. In fact, many people have computers (and are probably using your software, Mr. Gates), that they work from…so they really don’t have to leave the coffee shop at all, do they? That’s why Starbucks has Wi-Fi.
BG: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
JMS: Passive-aggressive bitterness and egotism, Bill. We all know you were/are a nerd, but many high powered executives are where they are because of emotional intelligence, not book smarts. So as time passes people who choose to have jobs may be working for LESS nerdy people. Just sayin’.
James Michael Sama | Elite.
Follow James on Twitter: @JamesMSama