Everywhere we hear about college dropouts and serial-failers who went on to become something. What about this gets people worked up so much?
Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were college dropouts doesn’t mean every college dropout — or even 10% of college dropouts, statistically speaking — are likely to become Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.
Jack Ma is often quoted as a serial failure when it came to getting admitted into Harvard. But to say that a Harvard reject automatically means something is a wild stretch of imagination.
Often we read news about minorities becoming CEO or Governor or such. These people did not become CEOs overnight and certainly not because they are minorities. They became so successful despite their minority disadvantage.
Schools and universities teach skills. To be something in a certain discipline or an industry, being at top of that skill is a given — or as they call it tablestakes. Just knowing programming doesn’t make someone Zuckerberg — on top of being good at trade, there is something very important no school or university can teach you — one is creativity and another is vision. And hunger to drive both to purpose. Jobs and Ma had a vision, Gates and Zuckerberg had creativity, and all of them had a deep sense of purpose and lots of hunger. For every Nadella or Pichai, there are 10s, perhaps 100s, of them in the making. Nadella didn’t become CEO in a bingo game. He was already running the Microsoft Server business for a long time. Pichai was running a significant portfolio of products — whether he was CEO or not.
There is much to learnt from these people. But being a college dropout or being a minority or being a serial-failure are not among them.