“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs
In life, people are taught to expect certain things. They are told to follow a certain path. Throughout life, you will constantly be bombarded with advice. Some sincere, some less so. People often say I am very outgoing, and that I am extroverted. In fact, dealing with people and talking to them is an effort I find immensely exhausting. As an introvert, I am constantly reflecting on my inner thoughts and my flaws, for better or for worse. I am sure that many of my readers will find themselves doing the same thing. One thing that I've found myself very good at doing is listening and taking advice. I always try to learn as much as I can from people more seasoned than me. The knowledge they pass on is more valuable than gold, and I am happy that they give it so freely.
There is one good piece of advice my good friend Kane gave me and now I pass it on to you: "don't take anyone's word as Gospel". The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that one person's path will work for you. It won't. It worked for them because they were at the right place at the right time, and they had the personality to make the situation work for them. However, you are not that person, and you never will be. That's why it's much better to learn as much as you can from others and then follow your own path. For example- if you have traditional Asian parents (as I do) and you asked them if starting a high-risk tech company was a wise choice, they would most surely tell you "NO!" with the capital N and O. In that order.
For me, the greatest realization is that my points are just as valid as any other person's. It all comes down to a matter of perspective and a willingness to listen as well as learn. As long as you learn from other people rather then emulate them, you will go far.
Building on that, it's incredible important to do something you are interested in in your life. You will spend most of your waking life working in one form or the other, therefor it's critical that you enjoy the things that you are doing. Quality of life is not tied to the amount of money you make, but how much fun you have doing it. Furthermore, it's extremely difficult to do something well, if it doesn't interest you. If you don't wake up every morning excited about what you do for a living, then perhaps it's time to reevaluate your career choice.
One of the most humbling and transforming experiences at college for me was discovering that there was someone that was better than me at everything! There was someone better at Computer Science. There was someone better at Chinese. There was someone better at Math and Econ. There was even someone better at partying and slacking off! The realization hit me that I was never going to be the best at everything. There were some things that I had to cede to other people. I had to genuinely admit that they were better than me.
The key is to surround yourself with people that are better than you in some way or the other. The only way you will ever improve is if you can connect with people that will lift you up and motivate you to do better. Remember, learning is a full contact sport. In order to be good at anything, you have to immerse yourself with it. Many people resent or shy away from people who are superior in some way. That is the most critical mistake that I've made in the past. Let your ego go, or you will never improve yourself.
Lastly, don't be too hard on yourself. You win some and you lose some. Change doesn't happen in an instant, the way we want it to. Remember, excellence is a habit, not an act. The human condition guarantees that we measure ourselves by the yardstick of days and weeks rather than months and years. Remember that ultimately, the success of a person is measured by what he accomplished in his lifetime, not the deadline he had to meet that one Friday.
Go forth and conquer!