Bill Gates and success…The linkage between the man and the trait seem obvious. In reviewing various news blurbs last Friday afternoon I stumbled across a viewpoint column on BBC News authored by Bill Gates. In this op-ed piece Mr. Gates was espousing his views on what it takes to be successful. As the world’s wealthiest man, the co-founder and chairman of the world’s largest software company and one of the world’s largest philanthropists, I was intrigued to read his thoughts on success.

In today’s post I will share my thoughts and observations about the comments put forth by Mr. Gates, and take the opportunity to rant a bit while I’m at it…

Let me begin by saying that I don’t know if the viewpoint piece I read was excerpted from another more lengthy piece, or if perhaps Mr. Gates was limited by an editorial word-count constraint. The aforementioned caveats noted, I was clearly disappointed with what I read. Certainly Bill Gates must have more to say on the topic of success than the casual comments articulated in his article. Let me be clear that I found nothing wrong with his recognition that understanding the value that information technology plays in both our present day lives and our future is important, or that having a proficiency in math and science is beneficial. I also have no complaints that he recognized the value of good interpersonal communication skills, having an innate sense of curiosity, being passionate about what you do and the need to be a life long learner. These are all valuable insights that will certainly help you live a more successful life.

What left me disappointed was not so much the few general observations that Mr. Gates did address, but rather the numerous things he did not address. It is my opinion that when someone possessing Bill Gates considerable credentials and professional accomplishments addresses the public at large that they also assume a tremendous burden of responsibility knowing the influence that their words carry.

One of the problems in today’s information age is that the continued advancement of technology and media have aided in the proliferation of endless amounts of useless rhetoric by those not qualified to give it. This trend makes it necessary for the public at large to be much more discerning about the counsel they chose to rely upon. The issue that I have with Bill Gates is that he gets a defacto free pass as what he says, or does not say, is taken as gospel by many without having to undergo the filter of a discerning eye.

For Mr. Gates to address the topic of success and not speak of service above self, courage, vision, wisdom, integrity, empathy, persistence, compassion, aggressivity, discernment, commitment, confidence, a bias to action, creativity, self-discipline, doing the right thing, overcoming fear, failure and challenges, loyalty, confidence, strategy, humility, a sense of timing, common sense, generosity, the ability to identify and develop great talent, attention to detail, family, faith, listening skills, respect for others, tactical excellence, charisma, extreme focus, understand risk, and a host of other issues is nothing short of tragic. You see, I’m not really picking on Bill Gates individually, but rather to all those who have access to a platform that don’t understand the power of their words, or as the case may be, the weight of their omissions.

Whether you are a business leader, politician, social activist, teacher, parent, student, religious leader, author, columnist, blogger, or just a run of the mill citizen, your words matter…Every person on the planet has a sphere of influence that is impacted by their words or lack thereof, and to not understand the impact your words have is nothing short of tragic. My advice is simply this…don’t take for granted whatever platforms or venues you have been afforded, but step up to plate and take the responsibility seriously. Life is more than a sound bite…


Image credit: Softpedia