Since Kindergarten you start the day with your parent’s waking you up every morning, dressing you, feeding you, coddling you; essentially, preparing you for anything that may come that day. You go to school, and your teacher assigns your seat, takes roll-call, teaches a lesson, gives you a test over the lesson, and either passes or fails you. If you fail the quiz, the test, or even the class, you are able to take it over (and over again), until you can manage at least a C-. You keep doing this process until you graduate and land in a college or a starter job. Once you have experience you are then qualified to go to something bigger and better. Some say school teaches you everything you need to know, but that’s just not true anymore. School is more of the foundation of building blocks that may eventually provide a platform for your future. Until you are on your own, or have gone through it and taken the extra step, you have not learned anything.

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher;
For it gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.”
-Oscar Wilde

While English can make you literate and Math can make you logical, it’s your life experiences that teach you how to survive and thrive. It is the basis of evolution and if  applied with gusto it can make you better than you were yesterday.

When your parents wake you, feed you, tell you to clean your room and do your chores, and your teacher tells you to have your assignments turned in by the end of the week, you are merely doing what it takes to get by. But when all those classes are in your rear view mirror… it’s up to you to set your alarm, you must dress yourself, you make your breakfast, and you go to work. Welcome to the real world and independence. Hope you didn’t forget your helmet.

TIP #1- Nothing is done for you in the real world.
You won’t always have your mom and dad paying for your food, rent, car, or clothes; or a teacher giving you ample opportunities to get something right. You will be on your own. YOU will enroll yourself in college. YOU will apply for a job. YOU will have to pay your bills and build your credit. Do you just let someone choose your spouse for you? No. You go out there and you find what you’re looking for and you risk getting turned down by that employer, or that guy in your class, or that girl at the gym. Only YOU can achieve your goals and create your own destiny.  

TIP#2 Take Responsibility
Only you are in control of your thoughts and actions. Every action you take is a choice you made. Live with it or fix it — those are your options. Stop blaming your friends for keeping you out late or your uncle for not getting you that job. Be mature and responsible enough to admit it to yourself… the rest of the world already knew it was your fault anyway. The good news is that it really is as simple as acknowledging your mistake and deciding not to make that same mistake again to create a wildly different outcome.

Speaking of mistakes… Make more of them, and fast!

TIP #3- Fail fast. And then Fail again
The most foolish thing you can do is try not to make mistakes. The wisest thing you can do is learn from your mistakes, and then make more of them while you’re young. Once you know what doesn’t work, you’re that much closer to finding out what does work.  Then go out and apply your newly earned wisdom to other situations. You will have the knowledge to share with others on what they might be doing wrong and can help find a solution to their problem.  The reward that you get will not only benefit you, but it will help out a friend, colleague, or family member that will be dazzled by your maturity!

Change is necessary. Our world is shaped by those who have looked failure in the face and learned, no success ever came without some failure.

“Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.”
-Will Smith

TIP#4- Stop Being Realistic:
This one takes a minute, so really think about what the Fresh Prince is saying in his quote.

People spend so much of their life saying, “That isn’t realistic” or “Get real!” Nothing is real until you make it real. No, I’m not talking quantum physics, I’m talking about risk and reward, vision and dreams! Some of you may be thinking of a great idea that you had right now, and maybe someone else told you that it wasn’t “realistic”.
Microsoft, Facebook, even the pool “noodle”…None of these things were real until someone had this idea and had the courage to be UN-realistic.  Even Jack Ma, richest man in China and founder of the recently IPOed, was doubted.  23 out of the 24 people that he gathered at his home the night he planned to get investors for his idea told him that he was crazy and should “stay the course”… Long story short, he didn’t and now his company is worth over $220 BILLION. Successful people didn’t become successful over night or by being told “yes” all the time. They had an unrealistic vision of their life and the courage to make reality bend to them.

TIP #5- It Takes a Village
In school you are quietly working by yourself, listening to your instructor, taking notes and trying to solve problems quietly and alone. If you didn’t work alone in school you were a “cheater”, but in the real world you are a Collaborator.  Just like nothing is done for you, you can’t do everything yourself.  You need help seeing things from a different perspective and a buffet of skillets can help you accomplish far more than you could have on your own.
Even if you think you’ve done everything on your own, you’re wrong.  We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.  I couldn’t even get this to you if it weren’t for an army of people (literally) to create the DARPAnet. This is valuable perspective that will humble you, and modesty is very attractive when working with a team.

TIP #6- Appreciate Your Family
In school you are young and naïve and think you are owed something. You have a mentality that your mom has to do your laundry and make your dinner. If you still think that way, then you really need to grow out of the angst-y teenager phase… it’s not very cool among the adults you will surely hope to make your friends. As you get older and venture out and find your own family, you become wiser. You realize your mom and dad sacrificed their time and dreams to give you yours. That they didn’t owe you, but they loved you and wanted to instill the meaning of family, love, and sacrifice. Work hard, but always be home on time for dinner. Never have your phones at the dinner table. Always listen more than you talk. Work hard for your family, but never sacrifice them for your work.

As a young professional, you have the world at your feet and wind at your back.  You truly do, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  This is a wonderful time to be alive. But what good is life, if you aren’t soaking up the essence of being Alive?

My last tip, Think About It.