11 Motivational Quotes From Bill Gates

Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth estimated at $77.8 billion as of April 2014. Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975 and has since then remained a powerful and inspiring figure in both business and technological innovation, and has gained a reputation for both his competitive drive and for his controversial no-competition style of management. In spite of all that, Bill Gates has remained a powerful figure in the public eye, and since his retirement as CEO of Microsoft, has become a leader of philanthropic and humanitarian efforts.

Gates and his wife, Melinda, established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, a charitable organization that has been known to support a variety of charities, and has received several awards for its humanitarian efforts. As of 2007, Bill and Melinda have donated an estimated minimum of $29 billion to charitable and scholarly organizations, and according to a 60 Minutes interview, they have no plans on limiting donations in the future. So, whether you are a business mogul, a soup kitchen volunteer, or a humanitarian with a vow of poverty, here are 11 quotes by Bill Gates that can motivate you to be as successful, as generous, or as innovative as you wish to be.

1. “Life is not fair; get used to it.”

Bill Gates cannot per say claim this quote, but it still reigns true nevertheless. If you wake up one day and think, “I want to be successful,” and then expect the world to just lay success at your feet without any real or genuine effort, you are almost guaranteed to fail. The only exception would be if you got lucky and won the lottery, which for most of us is not likely to happen. Life is hard, so toughen up and prepare for the punches.

2. “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.”

You’ve heard people tell you that life is hard before, but hearing it again can be a good motivational tool for keeping a positive mindset. We all have to be professional and focused in our careers and leave our personal woes behind to deal with on our own. Life doesn’t just pause when you are having a bad day, and nobody will show you any favor because we are all dealing with our own sets of problems.

3. “Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.”

Having role models and people you aspire to is a great motivational tool, but you must also remember that your success will be measured by your own successes and shortcomings. You must set out to find success in whatever way seems best for you; attempting to mimic someone else’s career or success will not ensure your own, and, in fact, is not even possible if you are truly attempting to promote yourself.

 4. “To win big, you sometimes need to take big risks.”

Without taking risks, you never have the opportunity to fail, and if you never fail, then you can never become successful. It might sound funny but failure is one of the most productive stepping-stones towards being successful. If you are not taking risks, you are not living, and if you are not living, then what are you doing?

 5. “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

 When you succeed at something, you celebrate your success. But dwelling on your success must include reflecting upon your mistakes and failures in order to understand exactly what you did to be successful. You are bound to trip and fall at some point along the way, but how you react to that fall will determine whether or not you will find success.

6. “If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.”

 Once again, mistakes are a part of life, and also of success. When you make one, do not mope about it or blame others for your shortcomings. Take responsibility, think about what you did and what you could have done differently, and move on. In other words, just be productive with your mistakes.

7. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Ensuring that you have a satisfied customer base is the key to any successful business. Taking the time to figure out why customers are not satisfied with your product or service allows you the opportunity to think of ways to improve upon those services. Do not look at it as failure necessarily. Without negative customer feedback, no business can expect to be successful or improve the quality of their product or service.

8. “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Finding success is great, and is definitely something you should be proud of once you have attained it. But sometimes experiencing success means you lose out on the opportunity to improve. Don’t be afraid of failure; it is in failure that you learn the most about yourself, and develop the ability to be successful. 

9. “I don’t know has become I don’t know yet.”

Further learning is an activity we must constantly expose ourselves to in order to improve on our success, but having the right attitude can also go a long way in determining your success. If you do not know something, make an effort to learn it, and move on to the next thing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as prepared as possible for every situation, but demonstrating your ability to adapt and approach situations with a positive attitude will definitely help you to achieve success. 

10. “I realized ten years ago that my wealth has to go back to society. A fortune, the size of which is hard to imagine, is best not passed on to one’s children. It’s not constructive for them.”

Bill Gates appreciates the value of money, but he also recognizes the dangers in having it. He has thus made a point of giving back to society in the form of charity and scholarship programs. Gates has also emphasized on several occasions that his wealth will not simply be left to his children to squander as they please; they must persevere and find success for themselves in order to grow into successful individuals, and not be spoiled by privilege. 

11. “Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned, there is no shortage of things to do.”

There is a path out there for everyone. Whether that means founding a multimillion dollar corporation, being a social worker, an educator, a public servant, a sociologist, or a writer, there is someway out there for all of us to contribute to society. That doesn’t mean having millions of dollars to give to a wide variety of charities, it just means taking the time to give back and consider something much larger than you. Even when you have accomplished success, there is always another project to look to and another problem to solve.