Why Bill Gates Loves People Who Can Lead Themselves

By James Mills, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

"When students get out in the world, they have to organise their own time, have goals, and realise what they’re behind on. It’s fantastic to see them getting a head start on those skills in school."

- Bill Gates

Bill Gates has identified education as a key area of focus for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Recently he wrote about his experience of visiting a school in Seattle that he was particularly impressed by. Shortly after his visit he even sent an email to Mark Zuckerberg to appreciate the contribution that Facebook staff have made. What was it about the school that made an impact on the world's wealthiest philanthropist?

To start with, here's a video of Bill Gates' visit in April to Summit Sierra, a personalised-learning school in Seattle’s International District.

There are a couple of key things that we can take from what stood out to Bill Gates that can be applied at home as well as at work - regardless of whether we work in a school or not.

The Impact of Owning Our Development

"At its best, personalised learning doesn’t just let students work at their own pace. It puts them in charge of their own academic growth."

How many of us have a clear vision as to where we are going in our lives and careers? Do we know exactly what it will take to achieve our long-term dreams and what we will need to invest in terms of time, money and effort to get there?

The reality is that many people struggle to answer these questions with true conviction. At the heart of it is that many people depend on others for their personal development and career planning. This feels very different to being in charge and actively seeking out opportunities to progress in line with long-term aims.

The Care That Comes With Personalised Mentorship 

"As most will tell you, it’s rare to find a school that gives them the opportunity to connect one-on-one with their students. But in personalised learning, that’s not the exception, it’s the rule."

If you were to ask the everyday person on the street about their experience of being mentored, they may look at you in a curious way. Personalised mentorship in the true sense of the word is quite rare in today's society and yet it is something that all legends have benefited from in their lives and careers. With one-to-one attention on their hopes, dreams and aspirations, these students are able to get clear on where they want to go and what they need to work on in order to get there.

Personalised mentorship ensures someone is putting the attention in the areas it is needed which can be almost impossible to do for yourself with a lack of true of objectivity.

For more on Bill Gates' visit to Summit Sierra, you can check out his blog post here.

How To Apply This?

We can read these quotes and be inspired by people like Bill Gates, but the most important thing is applying what he's showing us. Through our work with thousands of people we've found that less than 1% take this step to apply what they learn and it's that same 1% who achieve incredible success. Which category would you like to be in? The 99% who don't or the 1% who do?

To get you started, take 5 minutes to reflect on these questions and write your answers down...

  1. What have been your biggest life and career lessons from this last year?
  2. What would you like to achieve personally and professionally in the next...
    • 3 months?
    • 12 months?
    • 5 years?
    • 20 years?
  3. What are the areas you feel you need to develop in order to achieve your short, medium and long-term goals? Could it be areas like increasing your confidence? Developing more discipline? Networking with the right people? What do you really feel is holding you back?

Passionate about education like Bill Gates and want to make a difference in this area? If you are, then you'll probably want to learn what Sir Richard Branson has to say on the matter!


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