I just had coffee with one of the many amazing and soon to be college graduates in my life. She suggested that I write down my snippets of apparent wisdom that I have picked up over the years. Here they are in all their (hopefully) glory:
You are not going to change the world by yourself. The challenges facing our country and communities are large, long lived, and complex. The only way to solve them is to work together. Social change is marathon not a sprint.
Nobody ever died regretting that they didn’t work enough. People die regretting that they didn’t spend enough time with the people they love and doing the things they love to do.
Your first job doesn’t predict your destiny. It doesn’t define you or the rest of your life. I was a nanny and a bartender. Now I’m a vice president of a great non profit. My dad was a carpenter and then worked for a large company. Now he’s an author. This is just the very first paragraph of the very first chapter of what we hope is a very long book. So relax and stop thinking your first job has to be your dream job!
You ARE going to make mistakes. You might pick the wrong job. You might mess up on a project. You might get into conflicts with our colleagues or boss. You might fail at balancing work with the rest of your life. PLEASE make some mistakes – its the only way to really learn. I have never been asked about a school project grade on a job interview, but I HAVE been asked about my biggest failure. And getting a B on a test doesn’t count!
This might be controversial, but don’t start a non-profit. At least not right away. Running a nonprofit is a lot of work and responsibility. It might seem sexy and exciting, but you will need to file papers, recruit a board, raise money, and hire people. Its much less vision and action and much more management and operations than you probably think. If you really think this is what you want to do, at least talk to some people who have actually done it successfully.
So there it is, future grown ups, my five standard pieces of advice for fellow perfectionists and over-achievers like me. What advice have you heard that helped you breathe a sigh of relief about the “real world”?