Saturday, January 22

Finding Your Passion - from 1998 Stanford Daily

In the past few days, I have been rediscovering some of my older website pages (like Lessons Learned) and managing to recover some wisdom I found back at Stanford.

This one is twelve years old, and is Stanford-centric, but has nuggets that again I find incredibly applicable today. You can find it at the Stanford Daily archives and I republish it here.

Editorial Notebook: Finding your passion

A PROFESSOR OF mine once said, "Don't let your academics stand in the way of your education." In 1989, I came to Stanford to pursue an electrical engineering degree thinking all that mattered was homework, tests and grades. But in the process, I learned far more about life than I expected to learn. Here are some of the unanticipated lessons that my education has included over the last nine years:

Stanford University is a business and not simply an oasis of pure, unadulterated learning. Politics are very important - in virtually every office and department. Use these facts and you will find success both here and in the real world.

Don't sweat the small stuff - and it is all small stuff. Maybe the ASSU Senate or the Faculty Senate could learn a thing or two from this old cliche.

Treat secretaries like presidents and presidents like friends - everyone deserves respect and most people feel lonely on a pedestal. You will be amazed at the returns you receive.

As the joke goes, it's not your research topic, but your thesis adviser that determines if and when you will graduate. To determine your true completion date for your thesis, always multiply your projected time to completion by 2.5.

Take one of the dance division's dance classes. No matter which one you choose, you will learn poise, rhythm and a joy of movement that no homework set can match. Out of all the programs at Stanford, it is the one in which you will continue to appreciate long after you graduate. And don't fret if you aren't completely proficient after a month, a quarter or even a year. It took you a whole year to learn how to walk - and you worked on that day after day.

Get uncomfortable and walk in another person's shoes. Check out a new social event put on by another ethnic group. Learn about another culture other than your own. You might feel like you don't belong, but learn from the experience and you will grow as a person.

Realize that life is about relationships. Relationships aren't just boyfriend / girlfriend or husband / wife, they also include student / adviser, employee / employer, company / partner. Cherish and respect each and every of them.

Your biggest accomplishment at Stanford will more than likely be the smallest act you perform - a hug, a heart-to-heart or a helping hand - at the time you least expect it. Practice helping make the world a better place, one small act at a time.

Reality is your own self-perception. Be proactive, take a chance and make your own reality. People react to you and if you change, you will be amazed at how your world will too - and often for the better.

Be true to yourself. Your greatest satisfaction will come from being who you are and growing from it. You might gain success by emulating others, but seldom will you find true happiness and satisfaction.

Learn from your heroes - they are often humble people who rose from obscurity (or graduate school) to make a difference in the world. They were not the ones who set out to be great - they were people who simply followed their passions and success found them.

Find your passion, know your values, be yourself and live with love - the rest will follow.

- Sanford M. Dickert

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