In a commencement address to the Princeton class of 2010titled “We Are What We Choose”, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, asked graduates to consider these questions:
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
As a former college career counselor, I don’t believe that a set of questions, even if posed by one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, is going to turn Princeton graduates into creative, passionate, risk-taking, determined, and thoughtful individuals. That requires a particular personality and life situation. But I do think that this is a fascinating set of questions that career-oriented people should ask themselves from time to time and leadership coaches should periodically discuss with their clients. It just might make for some kinder, entrepreneurial leaders.