Don’t Devalue People Who Challenge You, And 5 Other Things Bill Gates Would Tell His Younger Self

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There’s a trend of celebrities (and some regular people) musing on what they would tell their younger selves if they could go back in time and save themselves some trouble (and a lot of heartache in the process). Whether it’s personal or professional, we’ve all (hopefully) learned quite a bit with the benefit of maturity and hindsight.

If you’re curious what advice Bill Gates would think important enough to pass through time, here are 6 things he says he would like to tell his younger self if he had the chance.

6. Not everyone develops at the same pace.

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In a February “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, Gates said “I wasn’t very good socially back then but I am not sure there is advice that would fix that – maybe I had to be awkward and just grow up.”

I have a feeling that way too many kids could benefit from truly understanding that truth as teens.

5. Be more self-aware.

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In that same session, Gates said “I would try and make myself more self-aware without getting rid of the focus and desire to learn.”

It’s hard to be self aware when you’re not really sure who you are yet, or who you want to be, but maybe that’s just part of the whole deal.

4. The world is so much bigger than you.

Teenagers and kids especially tend to be pretty myopic and selfish in the way they view the world, but in this tweet, Gates said he wished he’d opened his eyes sooner.

“I also have one big regret: When I left school, I knew little about the world’s worst inequities. Took me decades to learn.”

3. Understand that different people bring different skill sets.

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People who are very smart can often overestimate the power of raw intelligence, and Gates said in a February 2018 interview at Hunter College that it took him a long time to learn that lesson.

“I was so naive about different skill sets. I thought it somebody had a high IQ, they could be good at everything.

And that idea that you had to blend different skills together, that still surprises me.

This notion that there was just this simple idea of smartness, and it could solve everything – I wish I had known better than to think that.”

2. There is value in the people who challenge you.

Surrounding yourself with “yes men” is a good way to end up in an echo chamber that stunts your growth and your potential is a sentiment Gates echoed in this 2017 tweet.

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self. As @MelindaGates does for me.”

1. There are lots of ways to be smart.

This lesson must have been a tough one for Gates, or one that took some time to hit home, because he reiterated the same idea in a 2017 tweet.

“Looking back on when I left college, there are some things I wish I had known. E.g., intelligence takes many different forms.

It is not one dimensional.

And not as important as I used to think.”

This is all pretty savvy advice, if you ask me.

What would you tell your younger self? I bet you’ve got some good advice for us, too!