This speech, also known as “The Eleven Rules of Life,” has been widely attributed to Bill Gates, but it’s actually part of educator Charles Sykes book, Dumbing Down our Kids. We’re posting it again here during this season of high school and college graduations.
Life is not fair – get used to it.
The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world
will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel
good about yourself.
You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out
of high school. You won’t be a vice president with fancy car* until you earn both.
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping.
They called it Opportunity.
If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t
whine about your mistakes: learn from them.
Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as
they are now. They got that way from paying your bills,
cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest
from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try
delousing the closet in your own room.
Your school may have done away with winners and losers,
but life has not. In some schools they have abolished
failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as
you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the
slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get
summers off, and very few employers are interested in
helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
Television is NOT real life. In real life people
actually go to jobs.
(And my favorite)
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for
About Elisabeth Wilkins
Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.