At Princeton University, Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos spoke about his early life. Recalling an incident, he shared what he learnt from it. “What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift. Kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given, after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful. And if you do, it will probably be to the detriment of your choices. This is a group with many gifts. I am sure one of your gifts is the gift of a smart and capable brain. I am confident that’s the case, because admission is competitive, and if there weren’t some signs that you’re clever, the Dean of admissions wouldn’t have let you in.”
He added, “Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life, the life you author from scratch, on your own, begins. How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make? Will inertia be your guide or will you follow your passions? Will you follow dogma or will you be original? Will you choose a life of ease or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism or will you follow your convictions? Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong or will you apologise? Will you guard your heart against rejection or will you act when you fall in love? Will you play it safe or will you be a little swashbuckling? When it’s tough, will you give up or will you be relentless? Will you be a cynic or will you be a builder? Will you be clever at the expense of others or will you be kind?”
Answering this himself, he said, “I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old and, in a quiet moment of reflection, narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life’s story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”
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