This post is part of a series, “The One Thing,” which asks today’s successful leaders to identify the single most important lesson they’ve learned on a given topic.
If you remember what it’s like to be an incoming college freshman, the experience inspired just as much excitement as it did anxiety. As millions of students head off to school for the first time this month, they face a daunting transition process from navigating new levels of accountability and independence, to dealing with consuming workloads and intense social pressures.
The decisions students make during their freshman year can have a major impact on the rest of their college experience, so I asked six top women to weigh in with the unexpected advice they wish they’d heard before stepping foot onto campus for the first time.
What’s ‘The One Thing’ you wish someone had told you before starting college?
Make Top Grades Outside the Classroom
I wish someone had told me before college that it was just as important to focus on making A’s outside of the classroom as it was inside of the classroom. Too many times I, and the people around me, sacrificed our health, relationships, and our mental wellbeing to make sure we kept up in class. As long as we “made grades” everything else would be “okay,” and inevitably, life took a back seat. One should never abandon their wellbeing to achieve success or rack up accolades. The only way to make the A grades count is if you are healthy, and that transcends beyond physical health. It lends itself to every corner of your life; mental health and personal relationships being at the forefront.
Whitney Wolfe, Founder and CEO of Bumble, was an International Studies major at Southern Methodist University.
Founder and CEO of Bumble Whitney Wolfe (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Extend Trust Wisely
The one thing I wish someone had told me before starting college isDon’t be so trusting of people. I’m a person who naturally trusts people. If I connect with someone when I meet them; if I think they are smart, or make me laugh, or if feel like they are a good person. I don’t necessarily think they might want something from me. You should realize that no matter how unimportant or junior you may think you are, there is always something another person might want from you. As a result, I have, more often than I’d like to say, found myself in situations where after the original connection, the laughing and everything else, found that I have invested too much or myself in terms of my time, my network, or even in some cases my money. It hurts deeply when you realize that you have been taken advantage of.
In this same vein, I also wish someone had told me, , because it won’t and will only cause you more heartache along the way.
A graduate of Princeton University with an A.B. in History, Alexandra Lebenthal is the CEO of Lebenthal & Co., LLC.
Define the ‘Who’, Not the ‘What’
I hope that instead of asking yourself, “What do I want to do when I leave this institution of higher learning?” you instead ask yourself, “WHO do I want to be?” Ask yourself constantly, “What is the impact I want to have on this world?”
I’m telling you this as someone who, for too many years, focused on the “what” instead of the “who.” For too many years, I let others and societal expectations define me. I was really good at math and science, so I should become a doctor, right? And I did. But at the end of the day, that journey was about them, not me. A job that means nothing in your heart and soul, and not bringing the full weight of your talents should be an unacceptable compromise.
I believe that our core identity—who we truly are and what we are meant to do in this world—is as intrinsic as our DNA. It’s etched in our soul and ultimately it’s our job to figure out what it is. That is fundamentally, in my humble opinion, the work of your college years. It will serve you and the world well.
Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, received her Bachelor’s degree in History and and Science from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges.
Ask Questions to Fuel Connections
I wish someone had emphasized the value of asking great questions over knowing the right answers. In college, and in my early career, I found myself in unfamiliar territory – first, as a woman in computer programming courses, and later, working in technology.
In those early days, I embraced the “fake it till you make it” approach. And it worked! I tackled unfamiliar tasks, I spoke confidently in meetings even when I didn’t feel that way on the inside, and I was reticent to ask others for help, or reveal gaps in my knowledge. In many ways, it served me well and gave me the chance to learn by doing, but I believe I missed something extremely important.
Asking questions – those which broaden my worldview and deepen relationships – has turned out to be one of the most important aspects of my work, both as an executive and as an investor. It starts by practicing empathy and asking questions which help me get to the heart of the matter, whether that’s understanding the risks around a product update from an engineer, to assessing a startup’s potential when I’m evaluating an investment, or gleaning insight from leaders I admire so I can be a better leader myself.
April Underwood, Vice President of Product at Slack, studied Management Information Services at The University of Texas at Austin.
Source : http://www.forbes.com/