I just finished reading What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, by Tina Seelig. Dr. Seelig is a neuroscientist and the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, the entrepreneurship center at Stanford’s School of Engineering. I wish I knew this now, at 52. I have spent a lot of time talking about change in the legal profession, developing new business models and other the rapid development of new technology and the effect it will have on us. Here’s Dr. Seelig’s lesson:
It’s incredibly easy to get locked into traditional ways of thinking and to block out possible alternatives. For most of us, there are crowds of people standing on the sidelines, encouraging each of us to stay on the prescribed path, to color inside the lines, and to follow the directions they followed. This is comforting to them and to you. It reinforces the choices they made and provides you with a recipe that’s easy to follow. But it can also be severely limiting.
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Uncertainty is the essence of life and it fuels opportunity. To be honest, there are still days when I’m not sure which road to take and am overwhelmed by the choices unfolding in front of me. But I know that uncertainty if the fire that sparks innovation and engine that drives us forward.
The book is a quick read. It should be mandatory for every child in high school, and every 52 year old who wonders what life is putting on his or her plate.